(available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and PC)
(PC version used for review)
Yeah, I don’t know how to pronounce it either
The land had been struck by a sinister plague, a sickness that would cripple the entire continent and almost destroy it. It was only the Kingdom of Hermes that didn’t fall, due to their knowledge in alchemy which managed to turn the plague from a disease into a cure. This did not last, as there was a high price with the alchemy, a price that would eventually lead to creatures infected with the plague to ravage the streets, which would lead to the kingdom’s fall. You take on the role of Corvus, a mysterious being missing a good portion of memories (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve written something like that). Your task is to wander through Corvus’ memories to recover what he’s lost and discover other mysteries within the world. Normally I would give high praise to the story of Soulslikes, I enjoy the vagueness of these games and the sense of discovery as I venture further into the world, these are praises that I can’t really give in this game. The story is way too vague to the point where I don’t have any idea what our real end goal is, and what you discover in exploring doesn’t really reveal much more. I understand not telling the players much to let them figure it out on their own, but this is overkill.
Graphically, the game doesn’t look great. It came out for next gen consoles exclusively, but you won’t believe it as it really doesn’t take advantage of that at all, looking more like a late Playstation 3 or early Playstation 4 game. While I do like the character design and the general look of the environments, the detail in them leaves much to be desired. The music on the other hand is pretty good. The exploration music is very mysterious and almost haunting at times, while the music played in boss fights fit each one perfectly, while not being as action heavy or as grand as the likes of Bloodborne or Elden Ring, I can’t deny that they’ve gotten the theme down and managed to make the music sound pretty damn epic. The one downside to it is that it’s not really memorable, there’s not really any boss theme that stands out or really sticks in your head. Something I find very surprising is that the game has no voice acting, I say it’s surprising because the game still acts like there is, with things like bosses speaking during their fights and characters having subtitles for non-existent vocal lines. I’m not sure if the game will be getting voice dialog in future updates or if they weren’t able to add it due to time constraints, but it really is jarring that there is none.
As mentioned, Thymesia is a Soulslike Action RPG with similar gameplay to Bloodborne or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The game requires you to use a more aggressive playstyle and focuses more on skill and timing than other games of the genre would.
Outside of a couple of exceptions, every enemy has two health bars, both requiring a different weapon to whittle down. The first health bar – which I’ll call the shield for convenience – it’s best that you use your sabre, which will act as your basic weapon, as for the second health bar – which I’ll just call the soul – your best weapon are the claws as they will decimate that bar much faster. If there’s a long enough gap where you’re not attacking the enemy, then their armour will restore itself at an alarming rate, luckily if you dealt damage to their soul it will only regenerate to the point where the soul ends. I really like this mechanic; it forces you to use both weapons rather than favouring one or the other and it promotes you to adapt to a more aggressive playstyle.
Like with every other Soulslike, every time you slay an enemy you collect experience points (which in this game are called memory shards) which you are able to spend at checkpoints to level up a certain stat. Unlike other games in the genre though, you only have three stats that you can level up in (Strength, Vitality and Plague). While this may not seem like a lot, it’s pretty much all you need for this game seeing as there’s not really any magic or even a stamina bar. However, every time you level up you gain a Talent Point which you can spend to either upgrade one of your current attributes or change them entirely via the Talent Trees. By using the Talent Trees you can adjust how Corvus fights if you want to make him fit more into your playstyle as well as give you other benefits like being able to do more dodges in a row or regaining a tiny amount of health and Energy (mana) when you land a hit against an enemy. And if you purchased a Talent that you didn’t like or didn’t use that often, you can completely reset the board and pick out different ones, though personally I would have preferred if you could select which Talents you wanted to get rid of rather than reset the entire skill tree. Personally, I primarily got Talents that would allow me to attack faster, and thus regain what little health and Energy I could more quickly.
One of the bigger gameplay elements to this game is the Plague Weapons. If you hold down your claw attack until it’s fully charged then use it to attack the enemy, you’ll gain a Plague Weapon that will be the same as the one that the enemy used. These weapons will let you use a singular attack or give you a brief effect for a small amount of time, and after that you’ll have lost it and will have to do the same with an enemy to get a new one. Though if there are some Plague Weapons that you want to use more, then don’t worry. Sometimes when you kill an enemy, they will drop a Skill Shard of whatever weapon they were wielding. These will let you unlock a Plague Weapon that you can then equip for permanent use, though these ones will require Energy for you to use and will require a cooldown afterwards. The main ones I used were the Twin Swords and Miasma, Twin Swords because they attacked fast and did a lot of damage to basic enemies, and Miasma because it let me dodge as many times in a row as I wanted for a small amount of time.
One thing I was not expecting to be able to customise as well are the Potions. You get a selection of three types of Potions, one that heals more but takes longer, one that you get more of but heals less per Potion, and one that’s somewhere in the middle. When you kill a boss or mini-boss you obtain an item called an Alchemy Enhancer, these will let you upgrade your Potions in one of three ways, increasing the number of Potions you can carry, increases the amount of health that you can regain per use, or lets you equip more Ingredients to the Potion. Ingredients can be found throughout the game and will add extra effects that you can use with your potion, like an increase to the amount of health you gain on use, letting you also regain some Energy or increasing your attack for a limited time.
This game unfortunately commits a very common sin that a large portion of Soulslikes commit, that being the lack of variety in enemies. Throughout the game you’ll find yourself facing the same enemies, even as you venture into different areas. While it doesn’t ruin the game for me, it’s still a bit annoying having to fight the same monsters with little to no variety.
Then there’s the level design. Each of the areas you explore, whether intended or not, are basically giant mazes that are difficult to navigate. I understand that Soulslikes focus on having you explore gigantic areas with little guidance, it’s still easy for you to recognize where you’ve been which in turn makes it easier to figure out where you need to go. Even a game as massive as Elden Ring manages to succeed at this flawlessly. In Thymesia however trying to figure out where I had to go was a nightmare, as I kept finding myself in areas that I had already visited and when I think I have found a pathway leading to a new section, it often just brings me back to a place I’ve already been. Oftentimes when I finally go down a path that I haven’t been before, it was often just out of luck and I didn’t even have figure out that it was a new area until I reached the next checkpoint.
Though the poor level design is still made up by the combat, which is easily at its best during the boss fights. Each boss is incredibly aggressive and – just like in other Soulslikes – really requires you to learn their attack patterns in order to be able to even have a chance at surviving them; especially if you decided to do that I did and choose to continue deflecting attacks rather than just blocking them. With a couple of exceptions – one of which being pretty much a copy of the Ancient Wyvern fight in Dark Souls 3 (who in their right mind would decide to take inspiration from that fight and can I hit them with a shovel) – every fight is excellent; I can honestly say that these are some of my favourite boss fights in a Soulslike not developed by Fromsoftware.
Probably the main issue that I have with this game is its length. Especially for a game of this genre, it’s devastatingly short. I did everything I could, which was mostly beating all the levels and bosses, and yet I still managed to finish the game in about eight hours. The ending just kind of came out of nowhere and left me pretty disappointed, as I had a lot of fun with the game and I wanted to play more of it.
While yes, the level design and the short length did lower my opinion on the game a fair bit, the combat easily makes up for it. I had an insane amount of fun with this game and I would honestly have it up with games like Nioh and Code Vein and one of my favourite non-Fromsoftware Soulslikes. If you’re a fan of the genre, especially if you enjoyed the gameplay of Bloodborne then I recommend this game to you. While not in the same calibre as Elden Ring, I still think that this game is very much worth your time.
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant
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