Developer: OverBoarder Studio
Publisher: Team 17
Release Date: August 18th
Platforms: PC, Xbox Series S/X, Playstation 5, Switch Cloud Version (Reviewed on PC)
Is it the nature of man to become savior or monster?
Thymesia is a gothic action-rpg title by OverBorder studios that unabashedly wears it’s From Software inspiration on its sleeve. Boiling this title down to simply another “souls-like” title does it a bit of a disservice however as this freshman outing by the studio has plenty of merits of which to stand on its own.
Separating Truth From Fiction
You take the role of Corvus, an amnesiac plague doctor with otherworldly powers that is on a mission, but the true nature of that mission has been lost to him as well as the player. All that is known from the beginning of the game is that the Kingdom of Hermes is broken, plagued by disease and feral mutations of what were once men and that you have the means to save it. As you progress through the games four zones, you discover more about the world and what has transpired through numerous journal entries and public decrees from the royal guard. This simplistic method of storytelling is quite compelling as every note, journal page and recruitment sign you read has a unique perspective making you question whether what you are reading is wholly the truth, or simply what someone wants others to believe. This culminates in the player making choices that ultimately have them interpreting what they have read, seen, and witnessed throughout their playthrough and making a final judgement. An interesting narrative decision that truly rewards you paying attention to the smallest of details the game provides you along your journey.
This sense of mystery and uncertainty lies at the very heart of Thymesia’s theming and even into your characters levelling progression. There are no weapons to find or additional gadgets to add to your arsenal. From the start you have a saber, capable of making quick slicing attacks and opening wounds upon your would-be foes. A parrying dagger, where with astute timing can mitigate damage and open enemies to counter attacks. And vicious claws like that of a raven, that rip and tear into the open wounds of your enemies all the while teeming with a noxious green phantasmal energy. Holding down the claw attack will unleash a charged strike that not only does plague damage to an enemy but also rips out the enemy’s spiritual essence, that manifests itself as a one-time use plague weapon for Corvus to temporarily add to his arsenal.
Every enemy Corvus confronts will need to take damage from both of Corvus’ weapon types. The saber will open up wounds, and acts as an armor removing attack, while the claws remove that damage permanently from the enemy’s health bar. This creates a delicate dance, forcing players to alternate attacks and strategize how they will approach an enemy to effectively finish them. Each enemy is finished with a gruesome and stylish execution move, that never ceases to be gratifying.
Playing With Talent
This basic set of combat maneuvers is however expanded by a rather ingenious skill tree called the “Talent” system. These talents can be allocated when Corvus levels up and alter how Corvus utilizes his basic skill set, whether that means changing his dodge to a double side-step that adds an additional offensive bonus or the ability to long dodge by knee sliding further out of harm’s way and receiving a defensive buff. The talent system is where the player gets to be a bit creative and cater Corvus’ move set to their playstyle. Thymesia also does the player the courtesy of allowing them to reallocate these points at their leisure, allowing you to freely customize without feeling like you’ve committed to a decision that just doesn’t work for you. The combat system in Thymesia is the true star of the show. The nimble saber has Corvus dancing through the battlefield like a dancer of death and parrying an enemy’s blow has an incredibly satisfying weight and feedback that makes you want to master it. When you begin to click with the flow of combat, it brings very similar vibes to that of Devil May Cry, where the style, speed and bloody carnage makes you feel very much like a badass. Corvus’ foes however are not cannon fodder. One false move can leave you reeling and two solid hits from unique enemies can leave you loading back in from a recent checkpoint, so mastery of the games mechanics is a must. Luckily Thymesia’s leveling progression and talent system, make these challenges a bit more manageable for those untested by past souls-like titles.
Gothic Environments And Dark Orchestral Sounds
The graphics and environments do an ample job of setting a depressing, disparaging tone of the fallen state the kingdom now wallows in, and the sweeping orchestral soundtrack matches the pace of the frantic swordplay and large-scale monstrosities Corvus must carve through to fulfill his quest. I often caught myself sitting at the hub world location, simply losing myself listening to the background music.
The few faults Thymesia has reveal themselves in the latter half of this unfortunately short adventure. At only four main stages with a handful of “side-quests” in each, you can very well fly through the entirety of this game in less that eight hours. Even if you are stopping to find every note and collectible along the way. The enemy variety also becomes a bit stale, having seen every unique standard enemy it has to offer by the end of the second stage.
In the end, Thymesia is a stellar first title for OverBorder Studios, with a killer combat system, wonderful framework for a world rich with lore and much fun to be had for its brief runtime. I cannot wait to see what this studio does in the future and if we will see more set in the Kingdom of Hermes!
Image Source: OverBoarder Studio
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by Team 17.
Josh Barnickel is a co-host of the EXPCast: A Video Game Podcast that is part of the Boss Rush Network. Besides his roles on the podcast he runs fighting game tournaments two times a week featuring Tekken 7, Smash Bros, Street Fighter V, and Guilty Gear Strive. He challenges anyone to take him on in Tekken 7. Follow him on Magik4FGC on Twitter.