One thing I find fascinating about the Soulslike subgenre is the full circle it represents in gaming culture. While inclusivity is absolutely necessary for this industry, gaming continues to deliver punishing experiences. Much of my childhood was spent in front of various arcade machines. As such, I quickly learned that skill was often rewarded. This internal challenge to improve continues to persist, though some feel games need to include broader audiences. Thymesia developed by OverBorder Studio captures the Soulslike method beautifully, straddling the line between difficulty and accessibility.
“Though it doesn’t lean into horror, I found the game to be consistently exhilarating.”
Thymesia deals with memories, more specifically what can be recalled from them. As Corvus, you delve into your own memories repeatedly, uncovering the secrets learned in your past missions. Much of the story is learned through hidden letters and documents, encouraging exploration. These notes help to paint the picture of the Kingdom of Hermes, leading up to its current state. As you accomplish your goal for a level, more objectives will open further encouraging you to revisit your memories.
As you make your way through different locales, the blight upon the kingdom is plain to see. The abuse of alchemy eventually spun out of control, resulting in whole settlements suffering mutation. The levels that I explored during my time with the game evoke both desolation and disease. Pustules, wreckage, and hideous growths are littered about tight corridors and barricaded roads. This all comes together to remind the player that they are alone and always moments away from danger. While heavily steeped in dark themes, I never foundThymesia to feel scary or creepy. Though it doesn’t lean into horror, I found the game to be consistently exhilarating.
“Based on the enemy, Corvus can seize daggers, shields, axes, and other ghostly weapons to deal additional damage or increase his range.”
Combat in Thymesia is very fast-paced and highly adaptable. Corvus can perform saber attacks that deal wound damage, along with claw, ranged, and plague attacks. Wound damage is visible using the white health bar and eventually regenerates. Other attacks target a green health bar, which represents the enemy’s current max health. Lowering both health bars momentarily dazes an enemy, opening them up for a finishing strike. Switching up attacks seems to allow for longer combos before an enemy can recover or counter. Additionally, this introduces another level of urgency when facing multiple opponents. Regular attacks will dispatch the enemy, but a charged strike with the claw will earn Corvus a plague weapon.
Plague weapons are single-use skills that augment Corvus’ capabilities. Based on the enemy, Corvus can seize daggers, shields, axes, and other ghostly weapons to deal additional damage or increase his range. Enemies will also drop skill shards, used for improving plague weapon effectiveness and adding additional abilities. The player can swap between two preloaded plague weapons, with a third available upon a successful finishing strike. I found these fun to use, with interesting potential as they continued to level up.
On the defensive side, Corvus can deflect attacks and dodge to reposition. Both of these became exceedingly important as I came across harder enemies. Deflecting will negate damage and initiate a counterattack, but this only works on normal attacks. You cannot deflect enemy critical attacks marked with a green light. Thus, the player must either dodge or cancel out the attack with a ranged feather attack. Bosses also have an ultimate attack marked by red light, which is only avoidable by staying out of its range.
“The game encourages trying different combinations, and does a good job of providing save points to adjust these near challenging fights.”
In addition to its breakneck pace, Thymesia features a fair amount of control over your playstyle. This is possible via its talent trees, a list of abilities that modify and improves Corvus’ actions. One such talent allows Corvus to punish enemy critical attacks with a well-time dodged. Others will increase combo length, unlock additional attacks, or improve other aspects. The game encourages trying different combinations and does a good job of providing save points to adjust these near any challenging fights. Aside from talents, Corvus has three stats that determine wound damage, plague damage, and health. Using memory shards you can level these, rewarding the player with talent points. Lastly, Corvus can use items like herbs to improve the potions he carries improving their effectiveness.
All of this comes together to form a well-balanced system. I died quite a bit during my playthrough and I really enjoyed how my mistakes were always apparent. Trying out new strategies was simple to do and made it easy to improve after growing familiar with the patterns of stronger enemies. My only critique so far is how it is sometimes hard to see an enemy’s animations before they attack. I found it hard to tell the difference between Corvus and my target during some of the attack animations. I found this could throw off my timing a bit, but it was not a consistent problem.
“ThoughThymesia does nothing revolutionary, it builds upon the genre in interesting ways, all while providing an enjoyable challenge.”
Thymesia is a fast-paced, challenging action RPG and a must-watch for Soulslike fans in search of something a little different. Balancing different attack types to string longer combos while avoiding counterstrikes and ambushes keeps combat engaging, even when frustration hits. Deciding when to dodge or defend, and even how these and other elements function adds further depth to the gameplay loop. ThoughThymesia does nothing revolutionary, it builds upon the genre in interesting ways, all while providing an enjoyable challenge.
Thymesia is out now, available on Playstation 5, Xbox Series S|X, and Steam.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC. The Publisher provided the code.