It’s always a shame that a game manages to get some things so good but others so bad. OverBorder Studios’ third-person fantasy RPG Thymesia is a prime example, with satisfying and energetic combat that rewards patience and a familiarity with its admittedly tight progression systems that immediately stand out as something special. At the same time, its twisted story about a plague-torn kingdom and the secret agent who can save it, as well as the inconsistent quality of the exotic locations in which it is set, are largely half-baked and make the whole easily forgettable adventure. .
The story of Thymesia follows Corvus, a generic but well-dressed royal agent who got his brain scrambled like a breakfast egg. This is likely a consequence of his direct involvement in a plague spreading across the land, a disease that empowers some creatures while maiming, killing, or mutating others. With the help of an enigmatic and deceptive childish ally, you must climb into the dark, slimy void that is your memory to remember how you got here in hopes of finding clues on how to undo this. tragedy.
Screens – Thymesia
I really liked this story setup at first, but couldn’t care less about Corvus’ mysterious purpose at the end of the roughly eight-hour journey. This is partly due to the fact that there’s surprisingly little dialogue and very few NPCs to extract information from, with most of the plot being delivered as notes dropped onto the maps for you to spend time to collect and decipher. This type of storytelling has lost some luster after being pressed so heavily on games like this over the last decade, and even ignoring that fatigue, Thymesia’s notes aren’t written in a particularly compelling way. . Plus, the story itself is proven territory when you get past that opening ground – the fact that it’s based on a conspiracy swirling around magical blood that turns people into monsters doesn’t help Thymesia rattle. the “bloodborne-clone” allegations. .
Memories of Corvus take place in three places. Two of them, the Sea of Trees and the Fortress of Hermes, are largely bland environments that you’ve probably seen in other games before (and probably better). The first’s foggy plague swamp features numerous rope bridges and treehouses that look so similar under the putrid mist that it becomes difficult to navigate. The latter is just a fantastic medieval fortress, dilapidated and casting a shadow over some sparse forest areas that surround it. The swamp at least occasionally had a scary, hammer-wielding mutant to spice up the journey through it, but the fortress is full of generic knights from different warbands, with no real visual or thematic surprises to be had.
The mundanity of these stages is made far more dire compared to the third area, the Royal Garden, which is genuinely one of the most interesting environments I’ve seen in a game like this. It starts as some kind of strange set of greenhouses where large, twisted flowers grow, and descends into a bookcase that’s ankle-deep in blood. You can go even deeper on later visits via sub-quests, possibly to an entire blood cave, replete with a creep factor that stands out among a genre defined by it.
You can also revisit the other two locations in sub-quests, but their creative flourishes are limited to simply changing the path you take and changing which doors are accessible. When you explore previously unexplored places, there’s nothing drastically different about them. Needless to say, doing these optional parts in places that weren’t the royal garden was a bit boring.
These subquests are technically optional, but the things you find when you complete them are key to figuring out how to end the plague and fix the world. (You could absolutely beat Thymesia by only completing the main missions, but the story’s conclusion could be lackluster.) There are several different endings you could land on depending on a few factors that I won’t spoil, and I would have been motivated to see them all if you didn’t have to repeat the final boss fight every time to do so – especially when the only thing that really determines the ending, in addition to having the right items and information, it’s how you choose to use them after the final fight. And actually, even the “good” ending is a little underwhelming, as it unfolds in a simple slideshow of ink images with a few sparse blocks of text.
Despite the story’s shortcomings, Thymesia’s combat is its main strength. Corvus moves quickly, choking his enemies in a barrage of blades and dipping out of range just before they can counter cleanly. There’s no stamina bar to contend with here, which means the limiting factor on your attacks is simply the length of a combo chain, similar to a fighting game. By default, there’s no blocking either, meaning your defensive option of choice is either a fairly tricky-timing parry or a reliable dodge. Deflecting an attack returns damage to the attacker at a decent rate, making every small encounter a choice between passively waiting for an enemy’s attack streak and striking during downtime, or being proactive, soaking up damage with Well-placed parries to sweeten them up before it’s your turn to strike.
Combat is largely a back-and-forth like this, as there’s no reliable way to stagger enemies. They box being offbeat, or of course, but how and when almost always felt like a crap hit – an unpredictability that also applies to when the bad guys decide to counter you. Apparently there’s a limited number of attacks you can freely land on an enemy before they counterattack, but you’re never told exactly how many it is, even though you have access to skills that can affect this hidden functionality in various ways. . However, this is largely moot halfway through the campaign, as most enemies outside of bosses become pretty insignificant as you get stronger.
When slicing and dicing, you need to be aware of the dual nature of an enemy’s life bar. Your normal sword attacks damage the white part, exposing a green piece underneath. The white bar will fill up unless you use your Spectral Claw attacks to damage the green part, permanently shortening the bar. Deliberately weaving in sword and claw attacks is key to effectively dispatching your enemies, but since these attacks aren’t directly linked to each other in combos, the dance can feel awkward at times. But for tougher enemies, the race to effectively “lock in” sword damage from well-placed claw attacks while dodging their large swings was a big part of this combat system’s unique tension.
The bosses come in two forms: very big fancy pushovers and nimble stompers in the mud holes. The former have more creative designs but patterns that are much easier to learn and avoid, making them more “experiments” than actual challenges. Even still, one of those fights was one of the most memorable parts of Thymesia, having me run through a series of platforms to pop plague cysts and dispel fog while a giant battered the place around me. These latter fights are like your more standard one-on-one encounter, where a boss has a long list of possible ways to kill you quickly and you have to dive, dodge, and deflect. a lot to avoid getting dirty. These get easier over time as you get stronger, but this very first card-throwing carny in particular feels like a wide, thick, and frustrating skill wall.
Getting stronger involves the usual collection of currency from enemies and spending it to boost stats like health and damage, but you’ll also collect and upgrade plague weapons: secondary attacks that mimic the weaponry your enemies will use against you. These weapons give you powerful abilities to vary your attack, like big heavy hammer blows or a fast, precise bow. More interestingly, you can steal a single-use version of plague weapons from enemies, giving you yet another layer of attack on the fly. This was especially great for elite enemies and bosses, who usually have powerful abilities at their disposal.
The talent tree can also change Corvus’ moves or change them completely. There’s an upper limit to the number of talent points you can have, which means you can’t just max out everything, so making good choices is key to turning yourself into a real killing machine. Options like extending the deflection window or turning your meter into a block are nice, but I leaned more into abilities that gave me offensive buffs when dodging attacks on the last second or extended my normal attack and claw combos. Combining them with health gain and dodge extension options I can fine-tune my playstyle, but most of the options alter your game with passive buffs or extra utility rather than completely overhauling how you interact with combat. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it limits the scope of what’s possible in combat, and folks who like strength-focused builds and big guns will be left behind here.