The Thaumaturge is a kind of Disco Elysium in Warsaw in 1905. Your character studies the environment, talks a lot, feels the thoughts of others, immerses himself in political confrontation and local problems, and occasionally fights. On the other hand, it would be better if there were no fights in this game at all.

Game The Thaumaturge
Genre role-playing game
Platforms Windows, Linux
Languages English
Developer Fool’s Theory
Publisher 11 bit studios

Forced delay

The Thaumaturge, a historical isometric role-playing game from Polish studio Fool’s Theory, the authors of the interesting futuristic stealth/RPG Seven, was supposed to be released in February, but just a week before the release, The Thaumaturge, which was actually fully playable a few months ago, was unexpectedly postponed for another two weeks. After reading Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, which was released in mid-February, it’s clear why.

Despite their completely different settings and game mechanics (Banishers is a third-person action/RPG, The Thaumaturge is an isometric role-playing game with turn-based combat), these games have a lot in common. A rare setting that is not often seen in video games; otherworldly creatures that exploit the flaws of the living; and protagonists who can see these creatures, must explore the past, search for things and feel emotions that led to the persecution of people, and eventually rid the living of the influence of the dead.

Not surprisingly, the authors of The Thaumaturge decided to postpone the game’s release for a while.


Thaumaturgy (read as [ˈthȯ-mə-ˌtər-jē]) means miracle work. It is the ability of a magician or saint (including a Christian saint), i.e. a thaumaturgist, to perform miracles. And the tavmaturg is the creator of miracles, i.e. the magician. The word is used in everyday speech very rarely, but it has entered the vocabulary of game developers, both board and video games. Thaumaturgy and thaumaturgs are present in Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Vampire: The Masquerade, Magic: The Gathering, Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, Xenoblade Chronicles, Path of Exile, etc. And now the beautiful word has its own game.

The protagonist of The Thaumaturge, Viktor Szulski, is a hereditary thaumaturge who would have taken over his father’s craft and clientele if he hadn’t had a falling out with him in his youth and left Warsaw. Viktor suffers from mental problems and has lost contact with his salutatorian, a magical being who feeds off his flaw (in Viktor’s case, excessive pride) but helps him to sense other people’s thoughts and memories and see the unseen.

Eventually, with the help of a “holy man” named Grigory Rasputin (yes, that one), Szulski regains control of the salutator and returns to Warsaw, where his father died under very strange circumstances.

Warsaw. 1905

One gets the impression that Fool’s Theory took up the development of The Thaumaturge only because they really wanted to recreate the virtual Warsaw as it was in 1905. The love and attention to detail that went into recreating different districts of the Polish capital, at that time the main city of the Warsaw Governorate of the Russian Empire, is impressive.

Central districts: The city center, Mirow, Powisle, Powonzki, Prague (the area on the right bank of the Vistula River), and the Ruzycki Marketplace seem to have been recreated from photographs of the time. With numerous mansions, palaces, tenement houses, poor people’s huts, cobblestone and mud on the streets, carriages, the first trams and electric lighting. It seems that every stone here is placed in the place reserved for it, every flower is planted exactly where it should be, every rope on which the laundry is dried is in its place, every food cart is where it should be.

Similarly, the rooms are full of details. Some books, portraits on the walls, small things on the dressers, carpets on the floor.

The history of Warsaw at that time is also conveyed in quests from the Warsaw Stories series. These are short quests to explore the city and its mood of the time. Somewhere there is a forbidden lecture, somewhere you have to learn how to play a newfangled English game called soccer, somewhere you have to demonstrate the latest technical miracle, a telescope, and so on. In addition, the authors add details in a series of city sketches of the time: chess players, ice cream or candy sellers, city food, etc. It really looks like a kind of declaration of love for the hometown.

Perhaps I would not have refused to play the same game about Kyiv at that time, if not for one huge BUT…

Too many Russians

At that time, Warsaw was part of the Russian Empire. A troubled and not fully conquered part, so there were too many Russians here. Russian military, Russian aristocracy. The protagonist’s mother is Russian, his uncle is a Russian general, his close friend and assistant Rasputin… well, you know. And yes, Rasputin had more to do with the destruction of the Russian Empire than anyone else, and he also wanted to prevent the outbreak of World War I, but… he’s still Russian. In Warsaw, there are too many Russian soldiers, Russian cattle, Russian inscriptions, Russian shop signs, etc.

Yes, the Russians are not liked here. Emperor Nicholas II (yes, he’s in The Thaumaturge) and Governor General George Scalon (also a historical figure) are sent after a Russian ship in the first scene of the game after returning to Warsaw. The “Russian world” is mentioned in a derogatory way, and most of the fights you will have are with Russian soldiers or Okhranka agents (the predecessor of the Cheka/OGPU/KGB/FSB). Moreover, it will be revealed later [SPOILER REMOVED].

But there are still too many Russians in The Thaumaturge, and this is probably the game’s main flaw.


As we mentioned at the beginning, The Thaumaturge has a lot in common with Disco Elysium. In this game, you will also be mostly talking, using the skills given to you by your salutatorians (there will be a lot of them at the end of the game) to change the thoughts of a character. You don’t hear internal voices like in Disco Elysium, but you do hear people’s thoughts and memories attached to certain things you find.

As in The Sinking City (remember, this game is back at Frogwares, so it’s worth buying again), or in Sherlock Holmes games, you have to find all the clues and objects tied to the person you are studying and have to convince, but the hero will draw conclusions from this evidence automatically. By the way, there’s something similar in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. You can’t read some memories until you develop a certain character trait, which, in turn, depends on how many and what kind of salutatorians you have tamed.

And here it should be mentioned that there are not just a lot of texts in The Thaumaturge, but a lot of them. Dialogues, descriptions of memories, books, notes, newspapers, letters, descriptions of characters, locations, and organizations. A lot of texts, but no Ukrainian localization. Unfortunately, in the case of The Thaumaturge, 11 bit studios did not agree with Fool’s Theory on translation, perhaps because of the large amount of text, so unlike The Invincible and the upcoming Frostpunk 2 and The Alters, there is no Ukrainian version. But unfortunately, there is a Russian one.

In addition, the game has another flaw. It lacks emotion, quite frankly, a lot. It seems as if all the characters have been given either sleeping pills or heavy sedatives, and even in the most tense situations they speak as they do at social gatherings – calmly and deliberately. This can be understood in the case of the arrogant Viktor Shulsky and his entourage, but in the case of Polish workers, fishermen, drunks, or Russian soldiers, this calmness looks bizarre.

And deed

If The Thaumaturge had limited itself to text only, like Disco Elysium, it would have been to the game’s advantage and, perhaps, it would have gained cult status. But Fool’s Theory decided to add turn-based, somewhat similar to card gameplay (it’s not, but it’s really similar) combat gameplay.

And it would seem that the protagonist has several different salute assistants, each with their own abilities, separate attacks on the psyche (focus) and health, combos, and additional bonuses that can be added to skills, but for some reason the combat gameplay still turned out to be very monotonous and uninteresting. There’s really no challenge here, the salutes can heal you, the enemies are not particularly powerful, even the new salutes that need to be tamed. Very quickly, battles become a boring routine that you want to get rid of. Unfortunately, the further you go, the fatter the enemies get, the more of them there are, and the more frequent the fights are.

It’s a pity that The Thaumaturge can’t solve all the issues with just words.

No miracle happened

Unfortunately, there was no new Miracle on the Vistula. The Thaumaturge looked like an ambitious and unusual RPG, but it turned out to be a very emotionless and a bit boring game, especially in terms of the combat part. Yes, there is an interesting setting, interesting characters, an interesting mix of Polish-Jewish-Ukrainian-Russian population, but… there are too many Russians and it completely turns off the game, no matter how patriotic and anti-Russian the plot might actually be. It’s a shame.