The Thaumaturge


The Thaumaturge is a story-driven RPG that takes place in Warsaw, Poland, during 1905, a time when the city was under the Imperial Russian tsardom, facing complex political conflicts and ideas between Russian soldiers, Polish citizens and Jewish merchants. As you can imagine from the title, you play as a thaumaturge, Wiktor Szulsky, who returns to his home place due to urgent family matters. Thaumaturges are those capable of using magical powers and doing miracles. They are able to investigate people’s souls and learn their secrets by inspecting the items they touched to read their emotions and thoughts. Sometimes people like this have flaws, imperfections or weaknesses that are able to attract Salutors, supernatural demons who belong to the local folklore and that can only be seen by thaumaturges. Throughout the journey, Wiktor will find and tame many of these salutors, but most importantly, he will learn the secrets about his family and confront the people who rule the city in the shadows.

The quest system is very interesting and, along with the unusual setting, it partially reminded me of The Witcher. Fool’s Theory is a team made of ex-CD Projekt Red developers as well others who have previously worked on Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Baldur’s Gate 3, so it’s not surprising that the quality of writing is fantastic, like there is barely any distinction between main and secondary quests because they are both equally intriguing. Some of the secondary quests are also tied to characters important for the story, so you can see there is often a connection with the main events. Many quests also include multiple objectives (some even optional) that can unlock new ways for completing them. A few are also marked as time-sensitive, so you can only complete them for a limited amount of time, which in my experience is very generous.

Most of the quests require you to obtain information about the characters you meet. You can acquire “observations” by talking to them, but also from interacting with the items they touched. Once you have gathered enough observations, you will come up to a conclusion, which will unlock unique dialogue choices and sometimes allow you to manipulate people by using your Salutors (it works exactly like the Axii sign from The Witcher). Unfortunately, all of this is pretty much passive on your side. The game doesn’t ask you to interpret clues and solve investigations with your brain (like in the Sherlock Holmes games). You simply go around using your perception to detect items that are important for quests, pick them up, read the observation and once you have enough of them, your character will automatically come up with a conclusion. The good news is that your actions really matter and may have long-term consequences; for example, depending on your dialogue choice, a message will appear saying that X character will remember that (like in Telltale games).

Like some people, Wiktor also has his own Flaw, Pride, and some dialogue options are directly connected to it. These choices can get you into trouble but they can also be a way to solve quests differently. Sometimes they are only available if you have enough Pride, so you must decide if you want to use it often and potentially impact the course of events, or ignore it completely. Upyr is your first Salutor and he follows your Flaw, but through the main quest you will be able to collect more Salutors that are extremely important for finding more clues and for fighting. That’s why I would recommend completing the first three main quests in Warsaw before following secondary quests, because battles are hard, if not impossible, to win without using other salutors and you will also miss some clues during investigations.

Sometimes the game omits what you can do. For example, during one side quest, I had to talk to a serial killer who was holding a hostage. The quest details on the upper left corner only showed me what to do, but didn’t tell me that I could go to the police commissioner and ask for backup before dealing with the killer. This could lead to slightly different endings for the characters involved, depending on my dialogue choices. I still don’t understand if it’s intentional quest design or just a flaw in the quest instructions, either way the game encourages you to explore, talk and find clues even when they are not clearly marked on the quest’s list of things to do. Exploration is also important because some events only take place at a certain time, but you can change the time of day (morning, noon, afternoon and evening) by using benches. Exploring the same locations at different times of day can make you find new events, characters, quests and collectables. You can also visit the Barbier to change hair and beard style, or the Tailor to change your clothes. Such small customization options are very welcome and help to give Wiktor a better customized look.

Combat is turn-based and you are often facing multiple enemies alone or occasionally with a companion. To win the fight, you must lower enemies’ health points by using a variety of skills and your salutor powers. Each attack has its own speed and the more powerful ones need more time to prepare. Thanks to your perception, you can see the actions queue and anticipate the enemies’ attacks. You can only summon one Salutor at a time, but swapping between them is important because enemies have unique traits that can be disabled only by attacking with certain salutors. After fights, but also after completing quests, you receive experience and points that you can use on a skill tree to purchase upgrades and improve your attributes. The combat system works decently, but there is a lot of fighting (maybe too much) and it eventually becomes repetitive, even after you have collected more Salutors. Games like Disco Elysium and (partially) Baldur’s Gate 3 have proved that you don’t really need combat to succeed with your game, as long as you have a great story to tell, well-written characters and gameplay mechanics such as skill checks, attributes and some RPG elements. That’s why I think this game could have benefited from less combat, or none at all, as the better parts are exploration, story, choices and consequences.

Another great aspect is the beauty of environments. You can fast-travel between different districts in the city of Warsaw, each one showing the social status of the people who live there. Locations are greatly detailed and look very real, despite the isometric view. The game is also filled with cinematic cutscenes and while characters are often well-voiced, their facial expressions are not very well portrayed. The performance on PC is great though, I didn’t experience any issues other than small bugs or glitches, but fortunately nothing quest-breaking.

The Thaumaturge offers an impressive story that will be greatly enjoyed by those who loved The Witcher’s complexity of quests, as well isometric games like Disco Elysium. The Polish historical setting is very unusual for videogames, yet it is always believable despite the presence of supernatural powers and demons. Even if the turn-based combat lacks depth and becomes repetitive in the long run, this is a game you must play primarily for the quality of story and the satisfaction of seeing the consequences of your actions in the real world.

Review written by Sonic Punk for

The Thaumaturge Steam Store Page 


+ Intriguing quests with choice and consequences
+ Unusual historical setting and fascinating lore
+ Beautiful and detailed environments
+ Good voice acting and folkloristic music


- Simple and repetitive combat mechanics
- Only two soundtracks playing during combat
- Unexpressive facial animations

Review Summary

Explore 20th century Warsaw, tame supernatural demons, complete quests and shape the morally ambiguous narrative in the brand-new isometric RPG The Thaumaturge.

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Zeepond Rating: 8/10