After spending well over a hundred hours with Elden Ring earlier in the year, I’ve been ready to scratch my Souls-like itch once again. What better game to do that with than the recently released Thymesia? It’s a title that I’ve actually had my eye on for some time thanks to its similarities to Bloodborne, though I couldn’t help but to feel a little wary given that Souls-likes titles that release outside of From Software can be a bit of a mixed-bag when it comes to quality.
Does Thymesia break the trend? Definitely, especially with its stellar combat, though I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some aspects of its design that could have done with a bit of refinement.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Thymesia takes place in a world known as Hermes, a once prosperous land but now one that is plagued by a vicious darkness that brings with it an unsettling evil… you know… like nasty monsters and grisly sights. That’s where protagonist Corvus comes in. Not only is he capable of killing the vicious beasts that are causing chaos, but he also holds the cure to the plague deep within his memory. It’s up to you to unravel said memories and bring peace to Hermes once more, but not before embarking on a perilous journey across what remains of the land.
There’s enough intrigue in the narrative and its world building that I actually found myself quite invested in the storytelling, with it a little less cryptic than that found in the Dark Souls series. It’s a lot simpler, sure, but it was neat to see the after-effects of the experimentation that was done in Hermes, how it changed the land, and how it could eventually be fixed by Corvus. Whilst I’d be lying if I said it was a narrative that was going to stick with me for some time, it definitely complemented the gruelling adventure I embarked on.
The core gameplay of Thymesia will feel familiar to anyone who has played a Souls-like before, with players exploring an array of twisted locales that are packed with vicious enemies to kill. One thing that IS worth pointing out immediately is that combat is handled a little differently. Corvus is able to unleash both a light attack with his sword and a heavy attack with his claw, with the light attacks wounding an enemy and causing their health bar to turn from white to green (this recharges back to white over time) and the heavy attacks then permanently removing health that is marked as green. This means there’s a heavy emphasis on wounding an enemy with light attacks before moving in for the kill with a heavy attack, with a balance of quick-paced attacking and patience when striking required if you want to kill off your foes. I’ve probably made it sound a bit more complex than it is because the system is easy to handle, but it does encourage players to be more strategic with their attacking and attempt to isolate and overwhelm enemies with flurries of attacks.
“Not only is there an impressive variety of enemies to tackle that require different strategies to beat, but there’s also no stamina system limiting your attacks – this feels significant, especially since there’s an emphasis placed on overwhelming your enemies.”
I LOVED the combat of Thymesia. Not only is there an impressive variety of enemies to tackle that require different strategies to beat, but there’s also no stamina system limiting your attacks – this feels significant, especially since there’s an emphasis placed on overwhelming your enemies. Interestingly, the extra weapons you find in-game are stolen from enemies by finishing them off with an execution-style attack, with these Plague Weapons essentially giving you a one-hit special attack to unleash when the time calls for it. Whilst temporary at first, you’ll eventually be able to unlock the weapons permanently, upgrade them, and use them as you please. Add to that your defensive manoeuvres that allow you to deflect and counter enemy attacks, and you’ll quickly find that Thymesia delivers satisfying offensive and defensive actions within its combat that ensures each showdown is versatile and brings plenty of options to the player. I was a big fan.
I haven’t even mentioned the bosses, which were a LOT of fun to fight. Admittedly, there were a couple of duds in the bunch and the difficulty didn’t always feel perfectly balanced as I progressed through the game, but for the most part they were cool encounters that put my skills to the test. There’s also plenty of flexibility when it comes to levelling up, with players able to refine Corvus’ skillset to suit their playstyle. There are some obvious areas which will prove most beneficial to level up, but there’s still a lot to play around with to ensure there’s a payoff for players.
Whilst the combat is stellar for the most part, there are some areas in which it can falter. Some enemy attacks can feel tricky to avoid, with the dodging manoeuvres of the game often feeling clumsy in design. It was hard to tell what it was exactly, but it almost felt like attacks were automatically locking onto me if I dodged a little bit too early? It might have just been my imagination (or maybe, as my editor has jokingly mentioned, I might have been ‘the worst’ at the game), but it just felt a little off.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The level design left a lot to be desired too, with some of Thymesia’s locales feeling very by the numbers and lacking that sense of foreboding presence that is so often found in From Software’s releases. Whilst it’s easy to appreciate that this was built off a smaller budget, seeing a lot of repetitive locales that didn’t bring too much environmental variety did feel a little underwhelming when comparing the game to the likes of Elden Ring or Bloodborne. Nothing in the game is bad at all, but there was no area that really wowed me either… it just felt a little ordinary and like I was following a string of unimaginative pathways.
You know what, though? It didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the game at all. Whilst Thymesia has its flaws, the sense of satisfaction when going through its world and slaying enemies is top notch. Combat feels great, the bosses are varied and fun, whilst levelling up and completing side quests feels rewarding. It gets all of the important things right, and whilst it doesn’t necessarily hit the very high standards of the more prolific releases in the genre, it’s one of the better efforts I’ve seen from a smaller developer.
Thymesia is an entertaining action romp that offers some brilliant combat throughout its dark and gruelling adventure. Whilst I’d be lying if I said it hit the heights seen across more prolific Souls-like releases, it still offered more than enough to keep me absorbed in its perilous journey until the very end. It’s a shame that the world wasn’t a bit more interesting to explore and the difficulty balance was a little all over the place, but it didn’t hinder what is otherwise an impressive debut title from the team at OverBorder Studio.
Developer: OverBorder Studio
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC