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Thymesia Review

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Killing Two Stones With A Single Bird .

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Main character of the game Thymesia standing still in an old castle village setting background
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Whenever the talk is of Soulslike, I am always a little bit preoccupied, always with a small little feeling of uneasiness I can't quite shake off no matter how hard I try. The temporary solution I found is to treat them like any other game, with no prejudice whatsoever. That way I can be as judgemental as I want, while giving it some benefit of the doubt — ain't that wonderful? Not only that, but it also irritates me deeply the rationale behind a game trying so hard to imitate another without having fully understood what it is that makes it so great in the first place. You see, I have nothing against these kinds of games, it's just that they oftentimes have a tendency to be everywhere in terms of quality, so you never truly know what to expect.

 ...Never have I ever been so humiliated in my life by a bird in a plague doctor suit... 

But, before you guess it yourself, that would also be precisely where Thymesia really caught me by surprise. While it is absolutely not there to revolutionize the formula in any way shape or form, it makes such an advanced effort to be so perfectly in line with what already exists that it almost feels like an extension of the vision the original creators themselves had of their game moving forward. In simpler terms, it doesn't look nor feel like amateur work at all, which is way more than I could ask from a developer exploring the limits of its talents. If I could put it into words, my description of the game would be that, as daunting a task following onto the footsteps of famous titles such as Sekiro and Bloodborne is, Thymesia executes its cores and fundamentals with surprising confidence and fluidity I, myself, couldn't hold the excitement in once I felt the 'click' happen.

And knowing that for the uninitiated these words won't carry much of a meaning, here goes another, easier to understand version: a quick-paced, rhythmic, visceral game where you play as a drippy mask-wearing mutant raven person that was an absurd two steps above anything I could have ever expected from it. To tell you the truth, so much as my first contact with it didn't immediately result in me falling in love at first sight, by holding on to that belief that it could go in any direction, after a long and excruciating battle to resist the urge to draw a white flag, it wound up winning my heart in the long run, which always feels the sweetest.

Similarly to every other soulslike, Thymesia draws many of its inspirations from the series of games developed by Fromsoftware. The key difference is that here you aren't so reliant on rolling away to survive attacks. Also, as a side note, an excess of lore (I mean, note after note after note (after note)) makes the game

Main character of the game Thymesia suffering a massive blow to the face and being launched back in response to the attack

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arguably be the complete opposite of a 'real' souls game, which are known for being timid when it comes to revealing its innards.

Similarly to every other soulslike, Thymesia draws many of its inspirations from the series of games developed by Fromsoftware. The key difference is that here you aren't so reliant on rolling away to survive attacks. Also, as a side note, an excess of lore (I mean, note after note after note (after note)) makes the game

Main character of the game Thymesia suffering a massive blow to the face and being launched back in response to the attack

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arguably be the complete opposite of a 'real' souls game, which are known for being timid when it comes to revealing its innards.

Mayhaps a little rough on the edges, Thymesia was an in many ways open invitation I decided to take, and then staying was only a matter of me being loyal to the masochistic blood that runs deep inside my veins. When the biggest complaint I have about the game is that it was cut off a tad too short, then you better believe that for me to leave begging for more, in this case, won't mean I was dissatisfied with what I had already gotten. The game was honestly fantastic, and when we start talking about its masterful execution of concepts, those were what really set up the stage for a wondrous pass time I am oh-so glad I didn't let my skeptcism spoil the fun that awaited at a corner's turn.

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Hurt Them More Than They Can Hurt You: A Forgetful Beating .
 

Cover image of the game Thymesia, featuring the game's main character
ESRB Rating M, for mature 17+

Publisher: Team 17 Digital

Release Date: August 18, 2022

Buying the game from the link above is a great way to support the site.

Most games that try to copy the souls style often don't understand what makes those games great. Because of this, when an unknown developer manages to not suck at it, that's what I'd call a performance worthy of applause.

A blood-red giant bat boss-type enemy from the game Thymesia

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After tasting defeat at the hands of the first boss we can all openly admit we weren't supposed to beat right then and there, we wake up missing our memories, and our next objective is to... well, try and remember everything we can. To help on our newfound quest, beyond having all the time in the world to rest and reflect on our previous loss, we also get to interact with a new companion — Aisemy, a young alchemist who is there mainly to fasten our recovery. To not be a burden for any longer than necessary, we'll have to go through countless missions to uncover the secrets of our previously fought battles to retrieve notes that should give us a grand deal of insight into who we were, and hint to what it is we need to do in order to complete the game.

Going a little more in-depth on what I touched upon in the previous chapter, Thymesia has, as I said before, many of its inspirations fairly clearly defined. From the very basic second phase enemy we all know and love, to the dodge mechanics that can avoid certain death despite a sword going right through our body, not a single major feature was missed. One thing that was a bit disappointing, though, is that neither enemy variety nor the arenas we fight them in were up there in terms of greatness, seeing as, beyond the limited number of foes we encounter, there isn't much of a background going on either. But then again, that's still understandable, seeing as the studio had limited resources to work with, so making dreamy scenarios for sure wasn't their number one priority.

As for a positive counter-point, the game felt pretty challenging, or at the very least it was way harder than I had initially anticipated. One thing that is always kind of missing in these kinds of games, to me, is the thrill behind every step — that you might end up losing all of your earned progress the next time you turn a dark corner without first looking both ways. For example, do you remember when was the last time you feared what you might find behind a fog wall in a Dark Souls game? Well, me neither. Not to mention bosses, which are usually these game's ultimate trump card, don't even hold that kind of 'surprise' factor anymore nowadays, and it's kind of disappointing, to be honest.

Revolving around the rediscovery of ourselves, each drop of blood we draw is basically us recalling our memories from the past. Each kill brings us a little bit closer to remembering who we were, as well as what our purpose in the world used to be.

The main character from the game Thymesia, Corvus, thrusting a boss-type enemy, Odur, in the abdomen, leaving a cloud of blood and other particles around the area of contact

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Featuring a grand total of 4 (excluding reuses) areas to explore, I think it's fair to say Thymesia doesn't have that much ambient diversity, with the same applying for enemies, seeing as they take their visual characteristics from the areas they inhabit. But to give creadit where it is due, I can appreciate the effort that went into

The four major locations of the game Thymesia

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making them as interesting to explore as possible.

Featuring a grand total of 4 (excluding reuses) areas to explore, I think it's fair to say Thymesia doesn't have that much ambient diversity, with the same applying for enemies, seeing as they take their visual characteristics from the areas they inhabit. But to give creadit where it is due, I can appreciate the effort that went into

The four major locations of the game Thymesia

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making them as interesting to explore as possible.

Main character from the game Thymesia battling against a spear-type enemy

In the topic of combat, visual clarity of attacks plays the vital role of providing us with instruments to counter often decimating hits. It is extremely important to know what is coming next, and that would be why trading blows with powerful enemies felt so awesome in here. 

Do you sometimes ever catch yourself missing enemies that don't let you breathe? Then look no further, for Thymesia is a game that can make even the experienced break a sweat.

What I really liked about Thymesia is that it manages to be difficult, but without the need to throw random bullshit at the screen in order to remain interesting. It has a very healthy kind of 'difficulty', where even when you are losing, you can still tell that you are 'winning' in a way... if that makes any sort of sense. While in other games enemies have a wide range of attacks that don't teach you anything at each death, in here you are rewarded so much every time you're downed that winning fights through brute force alone is rarely the answer. And to fight in a game where I know victory depends only on my ability to fend off foes, that is an amazing feeling I can't quite express.

Another thing I found really great was that there were very few ways to actually cheese enemies. You can explore weaknesses, exploit them when there's opportunity, but you can't use them in such a way as to make fights piss easy. Far from that, there were many times where even after learning which attacks were the most punishable, I still had to reinvent my strategy countless times before finally downing a major boss. Stun-locking the seemingly frail into a tight corner isn't really an option, as after tanking a couple of hits, they will inevitably break free from your combo and retaliate.

That's what made the game so unusually awesome to me, this lack of timidity to slap you in the face harder than any other would ever dare to. It defends and protects itself against vices we, veterans used to similar games, have learned to counter in enemy AI over the years, making it so that we have to work hard once again to figure out what works and what doesn't. So, in short, this is a crazy fantastic indie game that feels like a breath of fresh air in the realm of Soulslike, and one I wouldn't want to miss out on not mattering what, even if merely to honor what is already tradition.

 

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If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them: When You're Built Different .
 

Now, if it's only between me and you, one critique I've always been internalizing for games like this is how often our character doesn't feel like he belong in the picture. Like, not to generalize or anything, but don't you think so as well? I mean, when everyone else can move as though they came from a completely different universe, meanwhile we are usually a dude carrying a oftentimes sharpened stick, I think it's only natural to feel a little bit of jealousy every now and then. If I could name it, one of the few things that truly stood out as different in Thymesia in my opinion was that we weren't very far off in terms of power level as compared to those we fight, which is... absolutely amazing, to say the least.

Having to work hard once again means having to think before mashing a button, for a simple dodge in the wrong direction could wound up costing your life (in-game O.O). Failing to adapt should equate to you getting stuck at a single enemy for hours until muscle memory starts to kick in, taking upon itself do the work for you.

The main character, Corvus, from the game Thymesia suffering a fatal blow from a major boss-type enemy

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From minute one I was thinking "damn, fighting someone like us would be the real challenge", and let me tell you something in a way that won't spoil much: that wasn't just a mere thought for very long. Aside from dealing tons of damage, we are also incredibly fleet and nimble, being able to get in and out of the way of danger extremely fast. Add to that abilities to rival the most anime-looking character, and you get a game where you and your adversaries can actually fight on equal footing. Actually, from the perspective of a dude, who is valiantly waiting around to get ripped to pieces in an instant, I'd say we are more like the stuff of nightmares than someone you'd see getting beaten up over staring awkwardly at a giant's feet.

And, do you remember how I mentioned earlier something about us being a 'mutant raven' or something along those lines? So, yeah, about that, I guess it's about time I introduce you to something called "plague weapons", or, in other words, a way to subtract even more from the already fraglized morale of our enemies. Those basically allow us to summon weapons (and other stuff) made of a weird pulsating energy that mimicks the powers of downed foes while being as badass and lightweight as possible.

 

Main character from the game Thymesia holding a magic green scythe in a face-off against a large enemy that is about to swing his arm at him

If looking cool and stylish while mowing down anyone who dare make a stand against us was an option, it'd for sure be thanks to those — I bet you can't imagine anything more amazing than beating any and everything that moves into a pulp with fricking scythes made out of the same stuff as lightsabers.

For a being that defies what it means to be human, having crazy abilities to give us an edge in battle and also go alongside the bizarreness of our strange aura should only be natural.

​The method of getting plague weapons is by stealing them from enemies, which can be achieved by either killing them and getting it as loot, or by reaping it as they live using our raven abilities. Both ways don't differ that much in results, so use whatever fits your current situation better.

The main character of the game Thymesia collecting shiny loot after defeating a mini-boss type of enemy

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​The method of getting plague weapons is by stealing them from enemies, which can be achieved by either killing them and getting it as loot, or by reaping it as they live using our raven abilities. Both ways don't differ that much in results, so use whatever fits your current situation better.

The main character of the game Thymesia collecting shiny loot after defeating a mini-boss type of enemy

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Beyond those, there are also talents — a special kind of passive abilities which you can unlock upon spending points at certain shrine-like structures. Those are there with the purpose of enabling our character to function as intended, by removing limitations that were only added to make it so progress wouldn't be tied to stats alone. The good thing is that you can always change them both talents and plague weapons on the fly, being able to adapt your strategy whenever you feel like it, or just when there is a specific boss giving you a headache.

Not only that, but they also make for a much more flexible gameplay, seeing as you can try different kinds of builds until you find something that better suits your playstyle. I may be speaking for myself when I say this, but for someone who likes to try different things before I settle for what I really want, not having the ability to rewrite my decisions locked behind an oftentimes limited resource is for sure a highly welcoming sight. It makes up for the fact that you are unable to exchange weapons, and when combined, gives you an elevated degree of control over the outcome of some of the major battles, as mentioned before.

A fairly straightforward system with nothing over the top that complements quite well the main loop of an endless sequence of swings swungs. It gives reason to press a couple of extra buttons, which by itself, is already great enough to warrant a spot as a neat idea I'd like to give whoever thought about it a wide hug. A neat idea, and a much welcome addition I am sure will please quite a few people, including those who don't enjoy having more buttons to press, due simply to the immense amount of options it offers.

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Similar to how it works in Sekiro, we are stuck with a single set of weapons (a stilleto + an elongated saber) being available for us to use. For this reason, combat is fine-tuned to an unfathomable degree, with the only downside being that build variety won't be up the charts in terms of how much you can 

The main character of the game Thymesia, Corvus, standing still to display both of his weapons, a tiny dagger and an elongated saber

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Examples of limitations include the inability to dodge twice in a sequence, getting back up after falling on the ground because of attacks taking longer than recovering from a coma, low capacity to retrieve resources, as well a locked slot for an additional plague weapon that will remain locked for a great portion of the game unless you invest into it early on.

Some of the passive upgrades and abilities available in the game Thymesia

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Challenging The Fear That Sleeps Inside: To Overcome Oneself .
 

Following the trend of average things Thymesia does so well it becomes awesome, since we're already on a win streak, there is yet another thing I'd like to touch upon. That would be a mechanic where you are forced to be much more aggressive than usual if you want your battles to end as soon as you start them. Whenever we strike an opponent, instead of their health being reduced like normal, a new 'wound' meter will now appear instead, indicating a sort of timer we have before all of that bar is transformed back into usable hit points. You heard it right, folks. No more of an enemy sitting alone in an unlit corner, enviously watching us heal back to full in just a couple of light chugs.

A system put in place to ensure you are actively seeking to engage whoever you're facing, meaning that we now have to take the initiative and be constantly on the offensive, as a steady stream of damage is now the only way to get through each major obstacle. Something to be wary of, though, is that dealing lots of damage without caring for wounds, or simply distancing ourselves too much for a small sip of tasty healing juices can often lead to enemies slowly recovering large portions of their own health. To combat this, so that we don't just have our positions switched, there are plenty of tools we can use, and one such would be alternating attacks, keeping a balance of how many wounds we create, and how much real health we chip away at a time.

There are often large windows where we can charge up attacks, using our supernatural raven abilities to either keep building up more wounds, or to chunk down enemies heavily, giving them a much harder time regaining HP. And going back to talents, there are even some great combos you can create that should help you even more on your quest of ripping everything apart, but while there is no correct way to set them up, some abilities do synergize way better than others, so be sure to keep that in mind the next time you're picking up your skills.

Main character thrusting a tall enemy with his magic arm

Size is only a matter of perspective, and struggling against an enemy that is taller or wider than you are shouldn't be tied to them being able to hit harder or stronger than you can.

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Fantastically dynamic, connecting hits from this upclose has its perks. By the time you're at the end of the game, your attacks are so devastating that even major fights can be over in a matter of seconds after drawing first blood. The ability to dismantle foes so quickly is a first for me, and I must admit, even non-spectacle battles were spetacularly awesome because of this.

As annoying as it sounds, having to be constantly breathing down at an enemy's neck prior to finishing them isn't that big of a deal once you're accustomed to standing toe to toe with foes who are just as scared of you as you are of them. Some will disagree with me on this, but I think that some intense nip-rubbing action leads to a far healthier gameplay than a staredown competition. It also trains us to develop actual combat skills, as opposed to the usual "just flail your arms around without any sense of coordination once danger approaches you from a weird angle", which is what we are so used to doing in most cases. And since there aren't that many ways to attack adversaries from afar except for maybe one or two ranged techniques we learn at separate stages, you really have to enjoy getting close and personal.

The type of game I enjoy most is one where I can tear an enemy apart as quickly as I see them, and to be backed by the developers themselves is just like hearing a comforting "it's fine", even if that is basically greenlighting me to disrespect their own creation. If you're on the same boat, I think you'll have a super great time with Thymesia, but if not... then maybe there might be better options for you out there.

Since there is no way to get past enemies without dirtying our hands — or by abusing cheesy strategies to get them on their knees — facing them head on quickly becomes the only viable method of getting around, so learning the best ways to do just that stops being a task up to more talented players, and starts being a must for everyone else, should they want to progress through the game.

The main character of the game Thymesia, Corvus, facing a major worm-looking boss-type enemy that lurks in the distance

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How it works is very simple, if you're playing with water, you'll eventually have to get wet, no other way around it. So, because of that, what I say is: go for it! Even though the disdain is absolutely understandable, the mindset you need to have is to jump in head first (with the intent of absorbing as much knowledge as possible), then what you do next is think about the consequences of your actions. It'll be much more enjoyable than fearing what might go wrong, such as the risk of drowning, or, you know, learning too much at once, just to get splashed in the exact same way.

Final Thoughts: You Can't Kill One Who Doesn't Believe In Death .
 

A strip containing several pieces of characters and locations from the game Thymesia, featuring mostly arenas, as well as some of the main character of the game

​I have always been someone who had a preference or that greatly enjoyed using the least practical builds in games such as this, for purposes solely of role-playing . With that said, so much as I recognize Thymesia to be a highly difficult game, it was, at same time, way easier for someone like me to adapt into it due simply to both my past experience, as well as openess to relying on my own skill to progress.

The main character of the game Thymesia, Corvus, holding his plague doctor-looking mask in his hands

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​I have always been someone who had a preference or that greatly enjoyed using the least practical builds in games such as this, for purposes solely of role-playing . With that said, so much as I recognize Thymesia to be a highly difficult game, it was, at same time, way easier for someone like me to adapt into it due simply to both my past experience, as well as openess to relying on my own skill to progress.

The main character of the game Thymesia, Corvus, holding his plague doctor-looking mask in his hands

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As someone who has played nearly every single FromSoftware game to date, I think I am someone who can speak with priority when I say that Thymesia was a heckin' amazing time for what seems to be a small studio's first shot at a subgenre that is not easy in the slightest to properly execute. Not only would calling it a copy of another game be straight up wrong to its highly meritable, highly accurate recreation of the mechanics in a series of games that is loved by many, it would also be implying it adds nothing of its own, which is absolutely not true in the slightest.

The game ​is all about blood-pumping action, and while there was little variety in regards to whose blood we spill, the action itself never once wore old despite my initial guess that it wouldn't take long before the contrary would happen. Just so you know what to expect, in my opinion there is little I'd want to see added or changed in regards to technicalities should I have the opportunity to communicate my thoughts to the developers. To avoid playing with the words too much, I, without exaggeration had some serious trouble thinking of ways the game could be improved as is, so, let us just say I am not in the mood for thinking any harder.

Obviously not for everyone, the learning curve in this game just won't be so steep for those who already have had practice prior to diving in. And of course, if you're in for a quick snack without having that kind of experience, do know that the game will possibly take a lot longer to beat unless you're some kind of mistic deity amongst the realm of us mortals.

Needless to say, I am beyond excited for the possibility of a sequel that is longer in length and also explores more some of the concepts that weren't very great, or simply didn't quite get out of the ground as much as they should in this episode.

​As discussed many times before, Thymesia is, in my opinion, a bloodfest way harder than most other soulslike that I played to this point in time, mainly because it gives more tools for us players to use. For this reason, developing the necessary components to rock the game should take a little bit longer than usual, unless, of course, these game senses come naturally to you.

The main character of the game Thymesia about to stab a tall vivid-red enemy in the chest

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Fun, extremely engaging combat that felt pretty great overall, being quite challenging even for experienced players.

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Incredibly fluid, controls wise, making for a game that plays fantastic and is also free of any major input hurdles.

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Multiple endings that are easily accessible without having to replay or complete the game more than once.

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It adds several highly interesting mechanics that weren't too overused nor overly annoying to deal with.

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Too much of the content is recycled, making a lot of it lose its cool factor after only a couple of hours into the game.

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Ends far too abruptly, far too soon, especially as it gets cut off just as it begins gaining some real momentum.

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An inability to change weapons makes it so that there is only a single acceptable playstyle players must adapt into.

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So much useless information that can be easily forgotten unless you are keeping track of each and every note you find.

Cover image of the game Thymesia without logo

Thymesia

An alluring soulslike that uses advanced combat mechanics as its bread and butter. It accomplishes this through a gracious execution of numerous concepts, possessing a level of refinement you very rarely see in similar games.

09/01/2022 - Caius, The Plague Doctor

Score of 8.0, representing a game that showed superior performance as compared to others in its genre

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