Remark: This cloud version of Thymesia has been tested on 100Mb super fast broadband with both a 5G WIFI and a wired LAN connection.
The kingdom of Hermes has entered an age of disaster. In a world where the use of powerful alchemy was once widespread and welcomed, things have gone horribly wrong. The now blood-soaked streets are filled with plague-ridden monstrosities and it’s up to you, Corvus, to put out the mutated garbage.
Thymesia from OverBorder Studios is the latest in a long line of Souls-esque experiences that attempt to capture the magic of FromSoftware while adding a few twists and gameplay wrinkles of its own. like it is de rigueur with the genre we have the same basic rules as usual here at work. Bonfires, now known as beacons, dot the landscape, offering a chance to rest and boost your stats, while also regenerating all nearby enemies. Death sees you leave your accumulated memories, giving you one chance to return to collect them, and there’s a central compound, known here as Pilgrimage Hill, that you can return to if you want to wallow in the brooding atmosphere of the game or a disappointing short chat with the one NPC who lives there.
Yes, if you’ve played Soulsborne you already know what it’s like in Thymesia, but this is one game that managed to get a little extra attention in the run-up to release because it, well, it looks Company. There’s a nice art style at work here, Corvus is a fast and flashy protagonist, and at first glance the haunted woods and bloodstained streets you claw your way through and cut off a bit of a Bloodborne vibe that, let’s face it, is a vibe worth spreading.
In addition, the game’s combat has plenty of fresh ideas to warrant research. Corvus attacks enemies with a combination of fast saber strikes and a slower, heavier claw attack. The general idea is that enemy health bars have two elements that you must destroy. Strike them with your saber and you’ll see the white bar turn green, indicating you’re dealing wound damage. The white regenerates and regains all of the exposed green area unless you then swipe your claw, remove the green area permanently, and actually do permanent damage on top of temporary wounds. Lower the bar to zero and your enemy will be opened to a final move indicated by a glowing red spot robbed straight from Sekiro.
It’s a system that encourages you to stay at the forefront and get stuck in enemies with combos – there’s no stamina to worry about here – to keep their wounds from regenerating. Additionally, Thymesia introduces a neat plague weapon mechanic that lets you steal any weapon skill from your current enemy by charging up your claw attack and then releasing it, causing Corvus to drive forward to pluck the essence of their weapon from them for one-time use.
The plague weapons on offer give you plenty of options to play with, there are 21 in total to collect, and they include awesome big hammers, whips, swords, axes, scythes and more exotic bloodsucking dishes, adding a layer of strategy as you blast through levels and collect memory shards to improve your stats and skills in view of the boss lurking at the end of each area.
After a while, you’ll also unlock plague weapons permanently in your inventory, so you can place them on a second slot and give Corvus a mix of permanent and single-use plague weapons to play with. As you reach for enemies, you’ll receive random drops of weapon-specific upgrade points that can then be used to boost your collection’s attack stats. Use your claw to attack a hammer-wielding enemy and they’ll drop hammer upgrades, sword enemies drop sword upgrades, and so on.
In regards to upgrading Corvus’ core stats, all you have to worry about is pumping your memory fragments into strength, vitality and pestilence attributes and each level you complete will reward you with a talent point to use in the the game’s talent tree. Here you can freely unlock and then reset various skills to build a Corvus that best suits your play style. For example, you might want to pump all your points into your saber, to make sure it gives you back a lot of energy as you attack – energy is what you need to do plague weapon attacks after all – and there are also upgrades to your claws, dodge, deflection skills, feather darts and more general things like improvements to your attacks when your health drops below a certain level.
The core combat system here is really quite solid and unique, at least on paper. However, you may have noticed that in that last paragraph we mention feather arrows, dodges and deflections, and this is where things start to fall apart somewhat. Thymesia has way too many systems in the game for its own good, some of which feel completely pointless and most of which feel like they need some refinement and tweaking because of how annoyingly tight their odds are.
Take the game’s feather arrows as an example. Used to spread an enemy’s attacks and delay wound healing, these are deployed with a quick push of the left trigger. Once we were introduced to this mechanic in the tutorial, we completely forgot about it. It just feels unnecessary, does very little damage – at least until you level it up – and just dodge out of the way of charged attacks and then go in for what saber and claw attacks feels like a much better option.
This same problem also applies to the game’s deflection system. Time your block with the left shoulder button and you will repel an enemy’s attack. Reasonable. But the rewards for doing this are not worth how hard it is to master the extremely tight and tricky timing. You can’t open up the enemy to a fancy riposte here, so you’re much better off just getting out of the way.
But even dodging has its problems, you feel unrefined – especially in this Switch Cloud version, which we’ll discuss in a moment – and for the most part we chose to hammer the dodge button instead of trying to get into a rhythm. come from perfect escapes.
It all results in battles that feel loose and baggy on the defense side of things, never reaching a place where the player feels they are in complete control, weaving in and out of enemy attacks and delivering counter-reactions when the opportunity presents itself. Overall, on offense Thymesia feels fine for the most part, but outside of this it’s a messy mix of mechanics that could and should have been streamlined. Take out the springs and the sag and just give us tease weapons, saber/claw attacks and a dodge and this might have felt a lot slicker overall.
Combat-outside, well, you have to consider Thymesia’s indie nature and budget price here. There are only three different areas in the game, with a small hub and a final small boss region to expand things a bit. All in all, not too much variety. You’ll run through an area once and take on the boss, then you’ll be presented with a series of submissions where you’ll return to a slightly different version of that same area to collect something or fight a secondary boss. This adds up to a lot of backtracking and repetition in both landscapes and enemy types and is a problem compounded early on by a first big boss that we had to grind for a few hours to beat. Not an ideal start.
Not only did this grinding early in the game leave a bad taste in our mouths, it also left us feeling completely over-leveled for the rest of our adventure, making for mundane enemy encounters and boss fights that felt later in the game. the campaign much easier than anything we encountered during opening hours. Or at least it would have happened if we hadn’t constantly struggled with terrible input lag, image quality issues, artifacts, and other issues associated with this being a cloud version.
We have had good experiences in the past with ao Hitman 3 – Cloud Versionand yes, we have had serious problems (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cloud Version), but here things are at their worst. Due to the fast-paced, combat-heavy nature of Thymesia’s gameplay and the tight success windows for successful deflections, dodges, and attacks, the input lag and image quality issues here result in an experience that is truly borderline unplayable on Switch. Consider going through Dark Souls for the first time with a very heavy delay, unresponsive controls and attack animations with completely screwed up timings and you’ll get a general idea of how it works.
Of course we are aware that your experience may vary depending on your internet setup, but we tested this game on a very capable 100Mb 5G WIFI and a wired connection with very little success. You just need to look at the screenshots in this review to get an idea of how blurry and unreadable this game looks in combat. Muddy picture quality and compromised input in these kinds of demanding, action-heavy games, unfortunately, isn’t something we can live with.
Ultimately, you’ve got a really bad version of a game here that’s already a pretty average experience, even if you’re playing on hardware that can run it perfectly. Thymesia’s combat is a mixed bag, the level design is quite boring and the knowledge is underdeveloped. If it had run well on Switch, we would have recommended it only to the most ardent Soulslike fans. However, since the performance of this cloud version has proven to be so unbearably bad, this is one version of OverBorder Studio’s indie adventure that we recommend you stay away from.