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That also makes it a difficult game to assess. Most games lend themselves to comparison with the best games in their genre, or they are clearly borrowing from other games, and I can look at how one design is in dialogue with another. None of that changes how I feel about a game, but it does help me understand and articulate my reactions.
Thea doesn’t work that way. It’s a survival 4X RPG roguelike with crafting and card combat. I can recognize all the ingredients, but the game itself is sui generis>. I can recognize the ingredients in the dish, but I’ve never encountered anything quite like it.
In spare minutes during the last day or so I’ve been trying to get my head around Thea: The Awakening [official site]. It’s a “turn-based strategic survival game.” It feels at times like a crossover between Civilization and my beloved NEO Scavenger, in that it’s a 4X but one in which you only ever have a single village and in which individual villagers have real value. But then its combat plays out as a card game designed by a programmer who worked on The Witcher 3’s Gwent, and your exploration of its world is marked by choose-your-own tales of Slavic mythology.
It is interesting. It seems quite good. And it left Early Access last Friday.