The Thaumaturge review

by on March 4, 2024
Release Date

March 4, 2024


If you’d said 2024 would be the year I’d get all excited and engrossed in the grimy underworld of turn-of-the-twentieth-century struggles in Warsaw under Russian tsardom, I’d have laughed at you. Or pulled a weird face at least. But before you think I’ve gone down a particularly weird rabbit hole, it’s all due to The Thaumaturge by Fool’s Theory. And they’ve proved that all you need to make a weirdo like me appreciate such a time is throw in smatterings of the mystical, some tough moral decisions, and interesting story content. Oh, and mud. Lots of mud.

Your role in this unfolding story is Wiktor Szulski, and you are the titular Thaumaturge. You are a man who was born with the ability to see and interact with demons throughout the world – known as Salutors. Each thaumaturge, when they come of age is attached to a salutor, which feeds off an inherent Flaw of each individual. Wiktor’s flaw is Pride, and gives him the ability to respond to various situations in a proud way – sometimes for comical or a positive effect, other times, not so much. Throughout the story, you will acquire more salutors and flaws, which impact the game to varying degrees.

As well as being able to recognise salutors, Wiktor as a thaumaturge can also use his innate Perception skills to sniff out auras left imprinted on items. So by touching a book for example, he can not only get a sense of the person who last touched the book, but also what they were thinking and feeling as they did so. This essentially allows Wiktor to become a souped-up Sherlock Holmes as he can investigate crime scenes and other areas and piece together mysteries simply by searching out items and investigating them. So you’ll find yourself exploring this isometric representation of various Warsaw districts, trying to deduce more and more. The story itself follows Wiktor piecing together a story of how his father died, who was involved, and why. All whilst various factions are at play helping and hindering him along the way.

The Thaumaturge

Interspersed with the investigative work is the combat. Wiktor will experience plenty of people who want to rough him up a bit given his snooping around. Combat happens separately, and is turn-based. Each turn Wiktor can use one of his acquired combat skills, and also get his salutor to act too. You can simply go for all-out damage or you can perform a skill to reduce your enemies’ Focus. Get it to zero, and they will be vulnerable for both you and your salutor to unleash a uniquely powerful attack on them. There are also various positive and negative states you can dish out to enemies and receive. Also some attacks take a certain amount of time to complete, so you need to also factor in outcome order, as well as keeping an eye on your health bar.

This all adds up to a combat system that just works really well. It starts off fairly simple to do but does a great job of ramping up the difficulty and complexity throughout the game. You’ll have to contend with enemies having certain traits at the start of the fight which could scupper your plans, and the only way to remove them is to have a salutor of a certain type attack that enemy. They might also attack frequently but more gently, or wait for a bigger hit after a couple of turns which you need to factor in. There are even boss fights when you want to try and capture a new Salutor which mixes up the dynamics even further. It meant I was always concentrating from the first fight to the last to check my strategy. Sure, you naturally lean into certain tactics, but sometimes you’ll need to disregard those and plan something else if the situation requires it.

The Thaumaturge

Feeding into all of this is a large thaumaturgy skill tree for Wiktor and his salutors. Everything Wiktor does, whether it is read a document, deduce something with his Perception, or successfully win a fight, earns him experience. Gain enough and he’ll essentially level up and earn a Thaumaturge Point to spend on the skill tree. The tree is divided into four parts: Heart, Mind, Deed, and Word. Unlocking parts of each tree will either increase your ability in one of these areas, increase your health, or unlock extra combat abilities. You can unlock either brand-new attacks or skill upgrades that can be assigned to each attack so they have a secondary ability. This further adds to the strategy within the combat itself. And what this means in reality is you always feel like Wiktor is getting stronger as a Thaumaturge and he is growing as the story progresses.

Visually the game is very pretty in areas too. Relying on an isometric viewpoint when Wiktor is exploring allows for appropriate attention to detail when needed. Some of the lighting effects for example are beautiful, and never has running through muddy puddles of some of the dingier areas of the game looked so lovely when the sunlight hits it just right. Character models are decent as well, although not as polished as some AAA titles, but they don’t detract from the story at all. From an audio standpoint, the voice acting is strong, and that’s quite remarkable given that it is fully-voiced despite all the choices available to you throughout the game. It all feels realistic and engaging. The eerie, rousing score that plays during the combat is a bit of an earworm and more than compliments the overall feel of the game.

The Thaumaturge

Performance-wise, The Thaumaturge is a slightly mixed bag, Combat is fluid, with a cathartic punch to the gut always having a satisfying oomph. Main character models are reliably in sync with the voice acting too for the most part. You may notice some slow down loading in when you fast-travel, but once the location details have loaded in, it’s fine. There are also occasions where background NPCs do funny animations whilst you’re talking to other characters or if they’re around during combat. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but it’s more humorously noticeable than anything else.

The other main gripe I had with the game was the fact that despite having collected almost every collectible in the game, and doing every side quest I discovered, I still found that I hadn’t maxed out the skill tree by the end of the story. And given that some final dialogue options are locked behind having high enough Heart, Mind, Deed or Word ratings, I ended up being boxed into a corner and potentially getting a worse ending than had I unlocked these levels. It felt a bit weird as I’m not sure where else to level up from. And a lack of chapter select means you can’t do much outside of save-scumming which still feels highly unnecessary. It’s difficult to know whether it was unique to my ending – given there are very clear different routes you can take or not. Don’t get me wrong it was still an impactful, powerful ending, but I felt the control taken from me somewhat.

But that aside, the journey of The Thaumaturge was a positive one. I found myself so engrossed in its world, intrigued by Wiktor’s backstory and the relationship he has with his gift, and the lifelong relationship he’s built with his salutor. The journey is full of twists and turns, and believable, varied characters with allegiances and agendas. The mix of combat and exploration is done really well, with both aspects feeling like they build well around the central thaumaturgy mechanic throughout the adventure. I didn’t want to stop playing, I wanted to see it through and see all the side content. It was an engrossing mystery that scratched such a delightful itch. Sure it has a couple of technical issues, but they don’t detract from a game that I got addicted to and would recommend to anyone with a passion for a good story and a smattering of the mystical.


Great combination of historical and supernatural
Engaging, strategic combat
Narrative twists and turns
Looks lovely at times, and plays well


Stuttering during fast-travel
Ending requirements can feel confusing

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

The Thaumaturge is an atmospheric adventure that oozes character and matches sleuthing and combat in an engaging, enjoyable way.