by Dan Lenois
reviewed on PC
The Good Doctor
When it comes to imagery, it’s hard to beat the superfluous, but oddly entrancing, concept of taking on the role of a plague doctor as you rid the world of supernatural-esque evil, often appearing either as regular humans, or powerful and more durable monsters. However they appear, the solution is universally the same.
Add on top of that the ever-present misty atmosphere, combined with the ruinous environment and eerily alien biomatter often decorating the floor, walls, and ceilings of many of the playable locales, and you’ve got an interesting, albeit not necessarily original, backdrop.
As with other (more newcomer-friendly) Souls-like games such as Remnant: From The Ashes, here in Thymesia, there is a certain minimal skill floor expected of players. Simply hacking and slashing blindly may work in the tutorial level, while the game is still heavily guiding you by the hand, but once those training wheels are removed, it is up to you to pick up the slack.
One of the first things the player will doubtless pick up on is the obvious fact that this is not a story-driven game. While there certainly are many small bits of lore scattered around, such as the collectable books you can find and pick up, all of which provide short, paragraph-long excerpts of text, these feel as if they were added merely to check off a formulaic requirement on the developers' end, rather than because they were intended to serve any meaningful narrative purpose. This isn't a game that will likely inspire many player-created wikis, or long-term YouTube channel, all dedicated to deciphering and expounding upon individual bits of lore.
Voiced dialogue also didn't appear to be permissible within the budgetary constraints of Thymesia, which isn’t necessarily a deal-killer, but given that the game does often throw the player into pre-rendered cutscenes during key moments, such as just prior to a boss battle, having even a shred of dialogue probably would have been a much-welcomed icing on the cake.
Keeping aware of your surroundings
Combat is where Thymesia tends to shine brightest, although this system likewise isn’t without fault. Players are given great incentive to remain constantly wary while in combat, whether against a single strong opponent, or against a group of minor enemies. Knowing when to dodge, as opposed to when to counter certain incoming attacks which often are immune to dodges, will occasionally mean the difference between life and death for your character. Even at the very least, it is often best to avoid taking damage of any variety.
One of the truly more unique mechanics Thymesia introduces is its implementation of plague weaponry, specifically your character's claw and feather abilities. All enemies within the world can regenerate all damage done to them, if you allow them to. The only way to directly counter this is by using your charged-up right-mouse-click ability, which enables you to leap at said enemy, and drain away the now temporary health, making said loss permanent.
As with any other Souls-like game, progression comes in the form of farming enemies for XP, and using said XP to boost your character stats, such as vitality, damage output, etc. The game provides you a reasonable number of checkpoints at which you can do just that. While there were one or two instances where the spacing between checkpoints might have been adjusted slightly to make the overall flow more cohesive, it will never likely prove to be that significant an issue for the average player.
Boss fights are where Thymesia tends to show off both its most obvious strengths and weaknesses in equal capacity. The visual presentation of each boss is eye-catching. Their distinct musical cues within the soundtrack give stark testimony to their differences from other past and future bosses, and their attack style forces you to learn the clear repetitions and respond accordingly.
However, the aforementioned health regeneration, combined with the multi-stage nature of said bosses, requiring you to essentially beat them not just once, but multiple times in order to win, makes the boss encounters feel unnecessarily tedious. When you consider that a player has to deal basic damage, confirm said damage to remove the temporary health, drive both the temporary and permanent health bars down to zero, and then engage in that process all over again, it is easy to see why this might turn away some players. Difficulty is one thing. Thoughtless repetitive grind is another.
Thymesia is a solid Souls-like hack-and-slash action-RPG that delivers in most areas with a moderate degree of competence. However, in those few areas where it attempts to innovate, it never seems to fully find its footing. Its developer, OverBorder Studio, proves in vivid detail their future potential, so hopefully the few notable lessons learned as part of their experience shaping the world of Thymesia will carry over to their future endeavours.
As always, follow us on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.
Intriguing art style, Well-executed combat system, Decent skill progression options
Wildly-uneven balancing, Lack of voice acting, Strictly-linear level design