Let me just utter the word “Soulsborne“, and see how it makes you feel. This singular statement is usually sufficient to send shivers down your spine. Why? Well, the thought of hours upon hours of gruelling gameplay and dying repeatedly isn’t always that much fun. Yet, there is a hardy bunch who obsess over such endeavours. Consequently, this group will jump at the opportunity to play Thymesia.
Developed by OverBorder Studios and published by Team17, this is a Soulsborne adventure RPG. What’s more, it has some hack n slash elements and is much smaller and less intense than its peers. Does this mean it isn’t as challenging? In one word, yes. But, don’t let that put you off as some excellent mechanics are begging to be experienced.
Thymesia is sadly lacking original content.
My overwhelming thought while playing Thymesia was the lack of originality. This title borrows heavily from FromSoftware’s approach, and this was disappointing. Accordingly, you have to create something special to compete, and I think they fell short across many elements. However, I applaud the developers for their lofty vision and attempt at twisting the perspective. Disappointingly, this is one genre that is set in its ways. Except for Elden Ring, many games rigidly stick to the tried and tested path. As a consequence, the gameplay can stagnate and I can see why OverBoarder Studios tried something slightly different.
The story is the first area of notable familiarity. You play the role of Corvus, a warrior with a dodgy memory. This would-be hero is tasked with saving a plague-torn kingdom from itself. Sadly, an obsession with alchemy went too far, and disease ravaged the unwitting citizens of Hermes. Guided by a spectral image, you must investigate the mysteries behind Pure Blood and Vile Blood.
The core storytelling unfolds through a series of notes that must be deciphered. This antiquated approach may work for Dark Souls, but in Thymesia it never clicked. Instead, the action flowed from one cryptic clue to the next, and it was unsatisfying. What’s more, it never felt dramatic enough, and this was frustrating.
The usual waypoints.
Fans of the genre will love the usual waypoint mechanics. Subsequently, the normal checkpoint rules stand as your hero can be upgraded and enemies respawn. The same is true of death, as your “belongings” are gathered if you make it back to your grave.
Upgrading Corvus isn’t as in-depth an experience as many of its peers. Accordingly, your combat approach is somewhat diminished, but still interesting nonetheless. You can alter your moves to suit your style, or change them completely. Furthermore, a limitation within the talent point allocation restricts you further still. As such, you can’t max out every skill, and you must decide what type of warrior you wish to be. Then, there is the choice of weapons and secondary skills to mix things up. Do you select power over speed, or ranged over melee?
This leads me nicely onto the pièce de résistance, the combat encounters. This is where Thymesia truly shines, thanks to its smooth and fun fighting elements. Now, I’m not talking about the big boss encounters. No, instead, I’m discussing the regular fights with the grunts. Here, a special power called “Reaping” is introduced. By charging your attacks, you can steal abilities from your foes. These are then incorporated into your combos with slick and disastrous consequences. I adored this challenging but enjoyable element to the gameplay and wish the rest of the action was as good.
Where this element faltered was the difficulty curve. The opening boss is unfairly tough and punishing. However, this is nothing new in a Soulsborne title. What was strange, though, was the lack of levelled gameplay. As you progressively got stronger, the action doesn’t become harder. Instead, the challenge becomes annoyingly imbalanced, and this is distinctly unSouls-like. This will be particularly infuriating for hardcore gamers and the flock of dedicated genre fans.
Thymesia looks moody, but unimaginative.
Thymesia has done a great job of creating a dank and moody atmosphere. In fact, I loved the variation in backdrops between the major realms. What’s more, I enjoyed the unique elements that made each stand out from the other. However, I was saddened by the continual lack of originality. Every location felt rehashed and done to death. It was truly disappointing that such great ideas were painted onto a well-worn canvas. Had the developers strived to create something fresh and subsequently failed, I would have applauded their efforts. As it is, this reeks of playing it safe and the final product is underwhelming.
Like its peers, Thymesia has a dramatic and rich soundtrack. I adored the ominous music that juxtaposed the high-energy and lighthearted moments. Alongside this, the sound effects enhance the fantasy theme. The immersive nature of the audio annoyingly highlighted the visual shortcomings. Had the two worked well together, the end product would have been a dark and cinematic treat.
Clumsy and often unresponsive controls.
When a game relies on finesse and timing, you expect the controls to be responsive and sharp. However, this often isn’t the case as the inputs are often lagging way behind. This is particularly troublesome during the boss battles. With so much at stake, you need everything to work perfectly. Disappointingly, the clumsy and often unresponsive controls will let you down time and time again. Other than this, I liked the UI and the button layout. These elements combined make the action easy to understand and simple to execute.
Thanks to the many optional side quests, an array of endings, and different abilities and weapons, there is both replay value and longevity. However, this isn’t your traditional Soulsborne title, nor is it as difficult. Consequently, hardcore fans will be left wanting just a bit more.
Thymesia has lofty ideas that are poorly executed.
I admire the developer’s drive and aspirations. However, many elements failed to reach their potential. Whenever you lack originality, gamers will find flaws. Accordingly, this is exactly what happened at every level. I wish Thymesia had explored some fresh ideas and tightened up their controls. Had they done this, the end product would have been more polished and more enjoyable. If you love the genre, you should give it a go here! Yet, be aware of its shortcomings and potential pitfalls. Can you piece together the plot and save the kingdom from itself? Learn new skills, tailor your approach, and defeat everything you encounter.