Review – Thymesia
Over the years we’ve had many attempts to recapture the magic that FromSoft’s genre defining Dark Souls started way back in 2009 with Demon Souls. Some like Nioh 2 and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin are great, whilst games like Dolmen were not so great. Could Thymesia fill that Yharnham shaped hole that exists in my Steam library?
Thymesia is set in a once thriving kingdom that has collapsed due to the use of alchemy getting out of hand. This has caused its citizens to turn into dangerous monsters. You play as Corvus, who sets out on a journey to discover just what happened to this fallen kingdom. As you would expect, much of the story is vaguely told as you slowly piece together what happened through each of the game’s memories, which are mostly told through text logs.
Where Soulslikes really live or die is in their combat, and Thymesia, for the most part, is good enough. It takes some clear inspiration from Bloodborne more than any other of Fromsoft’s Souls games. Combat is fast and fluid, relying on dodging and quick reactions, rather than the slower and more methodical approach. As you deal damage with your saber, you might notice that instead of taking chunks away from your opponent, that damage will be green. What this means is that by doing a claw attack, you will take away their HP. Wait too long and they will regen that health. This encourages a more aggressive style of play, forcing you to push the advantage. It feels like the inverse of Bloodborne‘s own damage system, where you can get your health back from quickly re-engaging instead of retreating, but has the same result.
Where Thymesia somewhat differentiates itself from the others in the genre is its plague weapons. By charging up your claw attack you are able to gain a one-time use to their weapons, but a little more souped-up. This also ties into the game’s progression. On-top of having fairly generic soul levelling (with no shop might I add, making this addition feel just obligatory), there’s skill trees, potion customisation, and even unlockable plague weapons that you can bring into the field and use on a cooldown.
Whilst you’ll need to use special items to re-assign attribute points, the skill tree is able to be customised at any lantern. Having trouble deflecting a bosses attacks? Switch out parry damage for more generous parry timings. It’s a neat system that allows an extra layer of flexibility and strategy depending on the situation. I had a lot of fun messing around with the skills and plague weapons that genuinely feel great.
However, combat isn’t entirely solid. There’s an entire layer of Thymesia that just feels cheap. Enemy attacks will track from absolutely ridiculous angles. Some attacks will stun enemies… meanwhile you can be stunned from basic attacks, unable to dodge or parry. It all feels a little inconsistent. There’s often very little impact to your weapons. Then we get to the camera, which is atrocious. It’s one of the worst I’ve seen in this genre, often getting stuck on pieces of the terrain, slow turning for no random reason, or just struggling to keep up with enemies when locked on. Some of these enemies move really fast and when the camera is still repositioning whilst trying to dodge, it becomes incredibly irritating. Despite these issues, Thymesia is actually fairly well balanced for most of the game, with it only really spiking for the final boss. Most deaths were the result of my own carelessness.
Levels aren’t massively interconnecting zones as you might expect, instead they’re mostly linear with some occasional exploration. Once you are done with the main mission in each zone, this will unlock and small handful of side objectives that have you going through the map again backwards. It’s not terrible, as you do see new areas within these zones, but a bit underwhelming and there’s simply not a lot to.
Similarly, there aren’t that many boss fights, and whilst they are all mechanically fine, there’s no real standout here. They rely on either health regen mechanics or a second phase that really doesn’t change much at all. Thymesia took me about six to seven hours to complete with a decent chunk of side quests done. Thymesia just wasn’t long enough for me to get invested into the world or gameplay, and the multiple endings aren’t enough of an incentive to play through it again.
Visually, Thymesia continues the Souls inspirations with a dark and depressing world. Much of the early locations are rather dull, lacking any real visual flair and settling on being dim and bland. Thankfully, later areas do look a lot better, although the potential is unfortunately not used. On PC, Thymesia runs really well. Pushing above 60FPS at all times even on an aging RTX 2060 at 3440×1440 resolution. It’s well optimised, and proper ultrawide support is always a bonus with the HUD correctly adjusting as you play.
Whilst currently unverified on Steam Deck, most of my time spent in Thymesia was actually spent on Valve’s handheld device, using the default settings on SteamOS (Proton). For the most part this is a very solid experience on Steam Deck, being able to lock down a solid framerate in 40hz mode on higher graphic settings (with AMD FSR enabled). It looks beautiful and plays solidly, with some minor stuttering when loading or moving quickly through areas and the occasional FPS drop with tons happening on screen. Even with the game installed on an SD card, it loaded fairly quickly. Regardless, during combat it stays mostly steady and that’s what really matters. I didn’t spend too much time finding the optimal game settings so you should be able to push this a bit further.
As a whole, Thymesia feels like a missed opportunity. The plague weapons and unique sense of progression carry its gameplay that can often feel a touch unfinished and forgettable. It’s short and very uneven: just when it’s starting to feel a bit more interesting, it ends in a very unspectacular fashion. If you are foaming for more soulslike games, then I guess that Thymesia can (maybe) be a good time. Even so, I’d strongly recommend grabbing it on sale.
Most areas of Thymesia are just incredibly dull to look at, which is a shame because the game can look beautiful at times.
Taking clear inspiration from Bloodborne. Thymesia‘s core mechanics are solid enough, but lack a layer of polish.
The sound design is decent, but not exactly memorable.
Thymesia is a short and uneven Soulslike, that has good ideas that just don’t have the time to be explored.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Thymesia is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch (Via Cloud), PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.
Reviewed on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM. Installed on SSD.
A copy of Thymesia was provided by the publisher.