The Thaumaturge - Review @ VGChartz

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VGChartz reviewed The Thaumaturge:

The Thaumaturge (PC) - Review

Of all the literary genres represented in gaming storylines, historical fiction is one you don't see very often. Assassin's Creed is the only major series that routinely tries it that I can think of, and it generally approaches the subject by trying to make every major historical character as boring as humanly possible. Fortunately, we now have a new entrant in the no doubt very slim venn diagram intersection of historical fiction and video games: The Thaumaturge. It proves that you can write interesting historical characters into a gaming narrative, but can it avoid the same boring fate?

The Thaumaturge takes place in early 20th century Eastern Europe, and focuses on main character Wiktor (pronounced Victor) Szulski. As the titular Thaumaturge, Wiktor functions as a hybrid between a detective and a Pokemon trainer for spirits that prey on people's emotional vulnerabilities. After making friends with Rasputin of all people in the prologue, Wiktor receives a notification that his father has passed away. The new BFFs decide to tag team back to Wiktor's family's home in Warsaw, where Wiktor winds up becoming embroiled in a series of mysteries revolving around politics, corrupt city high life, and his own complicated family.

[...]

Overall, The Thaumaturge is an encouraging first start. All the fundamentals for a good story are nailed down, it's just the presentation of said story that needs work, and ideally finding more meaningful ways to invest the player via the game's interactive components. As for the final product itself, it's certainly competent enough, if the prospect of a mystery with some light RPG elements sounds appealing, but don't expect it to light your world on fire.

Score: 5.5/10
Thanks Couchpotato!

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That score is rough. I did get the impression the game was a bit too dull and plain just from seeing a few minutes of gameplay. I'm sad for the developer, but hopefully they made enough profit to try again with the lessons learned.
 
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I didn't really care for it when I played the demo, but that score seems low. I have a hard time believing the full game is that bad.
 
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Personally, I found this game quite good and enjoyed it. Some criticisms levelled against it are true: the combat is easy (but then again, not every game should be Knights of Chalice; also, the final boss fight, while avoidable, took me at least five reloads, and a few others did, too), and automatic solving of mysteries after all clues are collected is disappointing.

But I must very much disagree about the story and delivery. With one caveat. And that is: English voice-over and English translation of this game sucks. I first started playing it in English, as is my custom, but the way people talked made it seem like a generic urban fantasy written by an uninspired author. I highly suspect one must play the game in Polish to really "get" it, but even a switch to Russian was a great help - the character came alive instantly. Unfortunately, the VO is English-only, and the contrast between it, and subtitles in a Slavic language is jarring. Despite the game being fully voiced, I found myself playing with headphones off, because there was no reason to listen - my reading eyes provided me with far better experience.

I don't know if it's a particular translator's fault, or a general problem with Eastern European media (I enjoyed Polish VO in Witcher series way more than English, and the Netflix series completely butchered book's language, to the point where even Russian translation of it was boring). I guess it's really hard to bring all the nuances of speech over the language barrier. Then again - I know it is possible, at least in the other direction, as I've read a really great translation of Henry Kuttner's "Hogbens" stories, where characters all speak in US hillbilly dialect, into Russian, and it managed to capture the feeling of language perfectly. But I guess indie RPGs don't get the same quality of translators classics of sci-fi do.

Well, there is another thing about the story which might make it feel less interesting, and it's that it bears no relation to Western history at all. I mean, Assassin's Creed is all about Important Historic Event and Figures pretty much everybody in the West, US or Europe, knows something about. Even Kingdom Comes (which author of review forgets) is about Hussite wars and Mongol invasion, which are deeply ingrained into shared history of Europe. Poland's history at the turn of 20th century, on the other hand, is of little interest to anyone outside of Poland (and Russia). The game does make a wink toward World War and Revolution, but it's not about those events - this is personal story of one Thaumaturge, you don't get to save the world, or even one country (though arguable, having Magic Secret Police, which is one of possible endings, might have changed the fate of Russian Empire, to a degree). People complain about saving-the-world all the time, but alas player surveys still show most gamers prefer epic storylines to personal ones, so unless you're firmly in the minority camp (as I am), you might find this game underwhelming.

In the end, I guess the game is not for everybody, which kind of explains 5/10 rating, but I still urge everyone to give it at least a try, especially if you can play in Polish or Russian, because some people it can easily be 8/10 (though no more - the automatic resolution of mysteries is really hurting it here).
 
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