When I first played a Souls -type game back in the day, I managed no more than thirty minutes. In that time I’d died over and over again and decided, there and then, that would be enough. But over the years there’s continued to be a draw, something about the worlds, the combat, and the chance to git gud that has had me – and many others – going back for more. That reached a high point with Elden Ring – a game I couldn’t put down, even after dying thousands of times.
So when Thymesia came into view, promising a new Souls-like experience, but with an original story and its own gameplay mechanics, I was excited. After playing it, I am still excited.
The premise of Thymesia is that there was once an amazing place called Hermes, a place that has now fallen prey to all manner of plague and strange goings on. It’s not the ideal tourist spot anymore. The problem was that the locals got addicted to using a bit of alchemy and the results of using this magic infected the land, turning folks into monsters and strange beasts. It’s here where you come in, playing a character called Corvus – a sort of raven hybrid. Your job is to go into each bit of the land and cleanse it by collecting the memories which are scattered around.
The story reflects the Soul’s narrative drive that is found in other games of this type, with a strange blight that has weathered and corrupted a once flourishing land. Even though this feels a bit like treading old ground, I liked the world-building and characters that popped up along the way. It’s helped that Thymesia drip feeds you pieces of memories and narrative as you progress, ensuring you are kept interested and intrigued, all with the premise at hazarding a guess of your own interpretation of what might have happened.
It’s in the gameplay where the action is though and Thymesia doesn’t ever disappoint in this respect. It plays at times like a mixture of Dark Souls but has the speed of Bloodborne and Elden Ring. It’s worth pointing out from the beginning that even though this game feels faster than others, and stamina is not such an important factor, don’t get confused that this is a normal RPG where you can just hammer away at your enemy until they are done. No, you need to treat every encounter with respect and patience, because you will be punished unless you’re a god.
To aid you, you have access to a normal attack, as you swipe with your weapon of choice. You start with a sword, but it can be upgraded and changed as you make progress throughout the levels. You have no stamina so that is something less to worry about in your attacking. You also have a defensive counterattack that – as always – is hard to get exactly right, but once you master it will probably find that’s all you end up doing for a while. You can also add in a heavy claw attack which produces a more damaged focused attack, but the swing takes a bit longer and needs to be used wisely. You can also dodge away from your enemies which is a must.
As you progress further, taking down enemies and exploring the world, you get memories which eventually can be traded into leveling up. The chance to upgrade skills on a skill tree is also present, letting you amend the likes of a more potent attack or a double dodge trick. However, in Thymesia, if you die, you will be sent back to the last checkpoint and have one attempt in the next run to get back your memories before they are lost forever. It’s the usual Souls trick of dealing out a lot of pain, but when you do finish a level or take down a boss that accomplishment is the best feeling in the world.
Through play you will discover that you are constantly leveling and going down skill routes, as you look to develop your play style. One of the most interesting aspects of Thymesia though is the introduction of plague weapons. Discovering weapon shards through your playthrough will unlock these weapons to use. There is also a limited special attack, delivered as a spectral weapon that deals the most hefty of blows to your enemy – needless to say, this is particularly useful in the boss attacks.
Thymesia’s visuals are good, with some nice character design and world-building. The framerate is solid too, rarely faltering and keeping up with the action on-screen. This is certainly a game that feels fluid and sharp with a responsive camera at all times. However, the colour palette doesn’t feel as varied as other games, but when you compare with the big triple-A games then that can be forgiven. The sound design is great throughout in regards to score and effects.
Thymesia doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the Souls-like world, but what it does do, it does very well. The plague weapons are a nice touch and on the whole Thymesia will deliver a very enjoyable gaming experience throughout. If you’re not much a fan of Souls affairs, then you might struggle, but even though I would say this is a bit more forgiving than most. A brilliant addition to the collection.
Thymesia is on the Xbox Store