Turn-based not-a-4X Thea: The Awakening [official site] is better than good; it’s interesting. A novel mixture of mechanics that arguably breathes new life into a stagnant genre even if those same mechanics fail individually. It’s the sort of game that’s ripe for a sequel. In the meantime, I’ll settle for this big bit of free DLC that offers a bunch of improvements, including an in-game editor, localisation, English voice over, and giants.
There’s a full list of what the DLC adds at the developer’s site. The standout to me is the ‘Story Events Editor’, which allows players to create their own snippets of fiction and drop it into the world. The standout to you might be the ability to play the game German, Polish, Russian and French translation, the ability to compare items via the Equipment screen (the game’s original UI leaves something to be desired), or heck, maybe you want to fight the titular giants.
I say Thea ‘arguably’ breathes new life into the 4X, because I also say that it’s a not-a-4X. Thea’s first twist on a familiar format is that you do not expand your territory beyond your initial starting town. Instead you expand your reach from that starting point by crafting materials, birthing new villagers, and forming your villagers into expedition parties that explore the world via interactive fiction and fight monsters via card battles. Here’s what Rob said about it in his above linked review:
When I started playing Thea: The Awakening, I was excited for its possibilities. I’d love to play the game that I thought, in those early hours, that I was playing. If the card battle system were better and less predictable, if there was more stuff to do with your village and a greater tension between exploration and protecting your home, if failure weren’t quite so punishing or random at times… Thea breaks the mold by doing a lot of different things at once. It just needs to do all of them better.
Which sounds negative, and is negative, but is often the kind of game I enjoy playing most. What’s the point in playing something perfect, that I know I already like, that is complete without me? Bring me your six out of tens.
Here’s a trailer for the DLC: