Thymesia review for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PC
Also On: PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Team 17
Developer: OverBorder Studio
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Thymesia is the latest game to try and take the tried and true Souls formula and add their own spin to it. Your mileage will vary, and fans of the genre may be left thinking about the better games this one is borrowing from. The environments, gameplay, and story are all derived directly from Bloodborne, right down to the mysterious plague affecting everyone around you. Combat leans much more into the fast-paced, slash-and-dash style that Bloodborne demands as well.

You have two different types of damage to deal, there is the damage you deal with your sword that reduces the white health bar, revealing the green one beneath. Then there is the damage you deal with your claws, which reduces the green health bar and is the one that does the actual damage. The white health bar will regenerate after a short time, so combat is a fast-paced dance of sword attacks and claw attacks. The dance stumbles a bit though, and the flow of ?sword to claw? combat is rough and combos are not set up for the most fluid attack pattern. This feels like a huge misstep and is one of my biggest complaints about the game. A smoother transfer between the two attacks, with some built-in combos would be a massive boost to the combat.

As any Souls veteran knows, the give and take of combat is the foundation of these games. The balance between attack and defense, coupled with knowing what attacks to try and counter and which to avoid is key to winning any exchange. Thymesia throws the majority of that out the window, with most of the encounters being won through dodging in, landing a quick combo, dodging out, then repeating. There are a handful of exceptions, one of them being the first real boss you encounter (and the most difficult one to get past, in my opinion). There is a block/counter mechanic, but it feels unfinished and unsure of itself. The skill tree offers options to improve things like timing and damage done, but ultimately I felt that relying on my speed and agility were better options than a stand-up fight while exchanging blows.

Combat is difficult at first, as it is in all of these games, but is relatively easy to master early on. It always feels like it is almost fighting back against you though, and never felt quite as seamless as I would like in this kind of game. It is never bad, but it also never feels very great. When combat is all you really have going for you, it should be absolutely top tier. Thymesia feels like it is just missing the mark all the way through.

The story itself is both derivative and forgettable, which is unfortunate with how interesting the premise feels at first. It ultimately ends up being too tropey and unoriginal, and plays out almost entirely through notes found in the world. There are multiple endings available, but nothing in Thymesia demanded a replay to discover them. After my 10 hours with the game, I was quite done and felt like I had discovered all there was to discover outside of those additional endings. There are side-quests aside from the main quest, but they do little to add to the story and serve mostly to pad the short playtime.

The skill tree and availability of plague weapons add a nice bit of depth to the game, and hunting special enemies to get their plague weapons or upgrades for the ones you already have is vital to succeeding in combat later on. Plague weapons are powerful weapons you collect and upgrade, which mimic the attacks of some of the strongest foes in the game. Using them is key to dealing massive damage to bosses later in the game, and they definitely help break up the monotony of the combat.

Overall there is not enough here to recommend to most players. Souls veterans will be left wanting more, and most likely frustrated by the limited options available to approaching combat encounters. Newcomers to the Souls-like games will most likely be put off by the initial difficulty, as well as the massive skill check that the first boss poses. A forgettable story, relatively bland world, and overly simplistic combat leave quite a lot to be desired after the initial hour or two with Thymesia.

Note: Team 17 provided us with a Thymesia PC code for review purposes

Grade: C-