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The Thaumaturge Review – Witness the Unfaithful Era of Poland

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The Thaumaturge Review – Witness the Unfaithful Era of Poland

The Thaumaturge is a story-driven action role-playing game developed by Fool’s Theory and published by 11 Bit Studios that provides a compelling story of a Polish Thaumaturge figuring about his family’s past with an impressive detective-style game and world design. The game is heavily inspired by true events and throws several easter eggs that refer to Poland’s past and it even includes several real-life characters that the protagonist meets as a part of the main story or on the side while exploring the world.

Story

The story of The Thaumaturge takes place in Warsaw, Poland in 1905 during the Russian Empire. Players will follow the story of a Polish Thaumaturge named Wiktor Szulski (Yes, it is with a W, not a V) who returns home to Warsaw to solve the mystery of the unexplained death of his father. Wiktor’s father was also a Thaumaturge but he never liked Wiktor, although Wiktor always tried to do his best to make him proud.

Now, that Wiktor has returned to Warsaw, he senses the sickness of the people as they are oppressed by liberating themselves. On the other hand, there is also a majority who don’t really care about the oppression and some of them are also Thaumaturges with a different point of view on seeking out ghosts and creatures. One of these Thaumaturges is Grigori Rasputin whom Wiktor gets to meet right at the beginning of the game.

The story progression of the game is set within the chapters of the game through which players can explore various areas of the world to find clues and notes that provide more in-depth lore about the people and Thaumaturges.

Gameplay

The Thaumaturge takes the approach of an isometric video game providing a gameplay style of both 2D and 3D with role-playing as a Thaumaturge who can speak and seek out the spirits. As players get control of Wiktor, he is on the brink of his death and needs to return home to re-find his connection to the spirit world. This is where the infamous Grigori Rasputin comes in who reassures Wiktor’s connection to the spirit world.

Once Wiktor has become healthy enough, the world becomes explorable allowing Wiktor to use the ability of spirits or in this case Salutors to find various items scattered around the world. These items are attached to a certain character that players can find and use the item against the character or control/influence them. It is one of the main aspects of the game as it is tied to the narrative moments and bound by the term, Flaw.

Throughout the game, you will be engaging in dialogue options with various characters and as you get to speak with them, there aren’t many dialogue options. There will be only a neutral option or an option to which the Flaw is attributed. So, you can either be neutral and just roll with the narrative or you can be aggressive to the Flaw of the characters which will help you power abilities in the game. Despite the two responses, you do get to do a lot of reading regarding finding certain items that are attached to the character so, if there were some more outcomes, it could have a more in-depth impact on the narrative.

Speaking of powering your abilities in the game, The Thaumaturge has a bit of a unique skill system tied to Wiktor through which players will be able to unlock new powers and customize them to gain favors in the upcoming battles. Like most of the RPGs, the new skills become available to you once you have gained enough experience or leveled up. This is the same in The Thaumaturge but the Thaumaturgy Points/Skill Points are spent among four different dimensions. These are Heart, Mind, Deed, and Word each of which has a Salutor associated with it.

As you explore the world and find items or read notes, you earn experience through which you earn a Thaumaturgy Point. Spend the point in any of the dimensions to allocate power to a certain dimension/Salutor through which you will earn new combat skills and modifiers.

The combat in The Thaumaturge follows the turn-based combat system but is a unique yet complex one. You will get to use Wiktor’s attacks which are mostly punches and the revolver along with sending the Spirits to add certain status ailments on the enemies. However, not all enemies are weakened against status ailments as some of them are even resistant to certain Salutors. Meaning, that you cannot send such a Salutor to attack certain enemies or you lose an attacking turn with no outcome.

Combat in The Thaumaturge is not all about attacking but it is also about disrupting the enemies to prevent the upcoming attacks from them. It is made possible by analyzing a meter bar on top of the screen which will highlight the next enemy and their attack. It is crucial to take notice of this meter as it will allow you to make a clear decision of which attack you want to initiate to secure a favorable position in the next turn. Not only that but a well-played attack with your Salutor on the enemy will also lessen their Focus which will lead to a Guard Break allowing you to deal extensive damage to them.

All the combat scenarios require a unique approach to stand victorious and the ones that will let you test your abilities the most are the boss fights. While progressing through the story, initially, you will have Upyr (Heart) Salutor and you will be engaged in a fight with other Salutors to become eligible to control them. These boss fights are not easy to surpass as with the enemies, the Salutor will open a random attack on you after every few turns. Defeating Salutor will let you capture them and recruit them to your party to become more powerful.

Apart from the main questline progression, the game offers a handful of side quests scattered around various world areas that you can explore in each chapter. However, apart from the side quests, the areas you visit have nothing more to them. You will be running to dead ends or no one to speak to other than finding the world items that are latched to certain characters.

Sound and Visuals

The sound design of The Thaumaturge is very well crafted as you can hear the wind, crackling of wood, steps, and even the gossip of the citizens clearly when close enough. It is great to see that all the dialogues are voiced in this game and it is done pretty well. Characters like Grigori Rasputin and Ligia deliver a great performance through their dialogues and voice acting which elevates the experience.

The visuals of the game in the outer world look stunning, the lightning is implanted greatly, the structure of Warsaw in the 20th century is represented greatly, and the character models are decent as well. However, with the starting of a cutscene on every major sequence, there is some stuttering and rendering to the textures but other than that, the game is visually stunning.

Verdict – Score 8.5/10

The Thaumaturge is a great story-driven role-playing video game with a unique detective-style gameplay design and a combat system with the abilities of various Salutors. Explore Warsaw, Poland in the 20th century, experience the rise of the Russian Empire, and decide to help Warsaw from its occupation. It captures both the politics of the event and the wizardry abilities of the protagonist to help the citizens as well as uncover the dark past of Wiktor.

With the price tag of only $35, it offers almost the exact same playtime and compelling experience in addition to multiple endings. It has great value for its price and the fact that you can replay the story for alternative endings is another great reason to try out this exciting adventure.

The Thaumaturge is now available on PC, and it is planned to be released on PlayStation 5 and XBOX Series X|S later this year.

Playing video games since a kid, Max Payne was the first game I ever played. I adore the soundtracks and worlds created in gaming. Passionate about writing gaming guides across all genres for all platforms. Confident in my publications in order to help other gamers across the world. I love video games in general and they are close to my heart.

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