It’s always a shame when a game gets some things so right but others so wrong. OverBorder Studios’ third-person fantasy RPG Thymesia is a prime example of this, with satisfying, energetic combat that rewards patience and a familiarity with its admittedly narrow progression systems that immediately stand out as something special. At the same time, the thrilling story of a plague-torn kingdom and the secret agent who can save it, as well as the inconsistent quality of the exotic locations where it takes place, is largely half-baked and makes the whole adventure easily forgettable. .
The story of Thymesia follows Corvus, a generic but well-dressed royal agent who has his brain scrambled like a breakfast egg. That’s likely a result of his direct involvement in a plague that is spreading across the land, a disease that empowers some creatures while maiming, killing, or mutating the rest. With the help of a disappointingly cryptic childish ally, you must climb into the dark, wimpy void that is your memory to remember how you got here in hopes of finding clues on how to undo this tragedy.
Fencing – Thymesia
I really liked this story setup at first, but by the end of the roughly eight-hour journey, I couldn’t have cared less about Corvus’ mysterious purpose. This is partly due to the fact that there is surprisingly little dialogue and very few NPCs to pry information from, with most of the plot being delivered through notes placed over the cards so you can save time. spend on collecting and deciphering. This kind of storytelling has lost a bit of its luster after relying so heavily on it in games like this for the past ten years, and even ignoring that fatigue. Thymesia’s notes are not written in a particularly engaging way. The story itself is also tried and tested ground once you get past that opening pitch – the fact that it’s based on a conspiracy that swirls around magical blood and turns humans into monsters doesn’t help Thymesia dispel the “Bloodborne-clone” accusations. shake .
Corvus’ memories are set in three locations. Two of them, the Sea of Trees and the Fortress of Hermes, are largely drab environments that you’ve probably seen in other games (and probably better) before. The foggy plague swamp of the former has many rope bridges and tree houses that look so similar under the rotting haze that it becomes difficult to navigate. The latter is just a medieval fantasy fortress, dilapidated and casting a shadow over some sparse woodlands around it. The swamp had at least the occasional creepy hammer-wielding mutant to spice up the journey through it, but the fortress is full of generic knights of all sorts, with no real visual or thematic surprises.
The mundaneness of these stages is much more dire compared to the third area, the Royal Garden, which is truly one of the most interesting environments I’ve seen in a game like this. It begins as a sort of bizarre series of greenhouses where large, twisted flowers grow, and descends to a library immersed in blood up to the ankles. You can go even deeper on subsequent visits via submissions, eventually into a whole blood cave, full of a creep factor that stands out among a genre defined by it.
You can also revisit the other two locations in submissions, but their creative flourishes are limited to changing the path you take through them and changing which doors are accessible. When you can explore previously unknown locations, there’s nothing dramatically different about them. Needless to say it was a bit tedious doing these optional bits in places that weren’t the Royal Garden.
These submissions are technically optional, but the things you encounter when you complete them are essential to figuring out how to end the plague and restore the world. (You could definitely beat Thymesia by just completing the main missions, but the resulting story conclusion may be lackluster.) There are several endings you could land on based on a few factors that I won’t reveal, and I’d have been motivated to see them all if you don’t have to repeat the boss fight every time – especially when the only thing For real determines the ending, besides having the right items and information, is how you choose to use them after the last battle. And in reality, even the “good” ending is a bit of a disappointment, as it’s set in a simple slideshow of inky black images with some sparse blocks of text.
Despite the story’s shortcomings, Thymesia’s fight is the main highlight. Corvus moves quickly, choking his enemies in a barrage of knives and ducking out of range just before they can properly counter. There’s no stamina bar to contend with here, meaning the limiting factor of your attacks is simply the length of a combo sequence, similar to a fighting game. There’s also no blocking by default, meaning your defensive option is a parry with some pretty tricky timing or a reliable dodge. Repelling an attack sends the damage back to the attacker at a reasonable rate, making each small encounter a choice between passively waiting for an enemy’s series of attacks and hitting during the downtime, or being proactive, absorbing the damage with well-placed parries to soften 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. She can being spread out, of course, but how and when almost always felt like a mess – an unpredictability that also applies when 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, even though you gain access to abilities that can affect this hidden feature in a variety of ways. This is largely disputed mid-campaign though, as most enemies outside of the bosses get pretty trivial as you get stronger.
When slicing and dicing you should be aware of the dual nature of an enemy’s life bar. Your normal sword attacks damage the white area, revealing a green area underneath. The white bar will refill unless you use your spectral claw attacks to damage the green part, which will permanently shorten the bar. Deliberately weaving sword and claw attacks is key to taking out your enemies efficiently, but since these attacks aren’t directly linked in combos, the dance can feel awkward at times. But for tougher foes, racing to effectively seal in the sword damage dealt with a few well-placed claw attacks, while dodging their big moves, was an important part of this combat system’s unique thrill.
Bosses come in two forms: very large, gimmicky pushovers and nimble mud puddles. The former have more creative designs, but much easier patterns to learn and avoid, making them more “experiences” than real challenges. Still, one of these battles was one of the most memorable parts of Thymesia, where I had to run through a series of platforms to burst plague cysts and clear fog as a giant slammed the place around me. The final battles are like your more standard one-on-one encounter, where a boss has a big list of possible ways to kill you quickly and you have to dive, dodge and deflect a lot so as not to be mopped. These get easier over time as you get stronger, but especially that very first card-throwing carny feels like a big, thick, and frustrating skill wall.
Getting stronger involves the usual collecting of enemies’ currency and spending it to increase stats like health and damage, but you’ll also collect and improve plague weapons: secondary attacks that mimic the weapons your enemies will use against you. These weapons give you powerful skills to vary your attack, such as big heavy hammer blows or a quick and precise bend. Most interestingly, you can steal a single-use version of plague weapons from enemies, giving you another layer of offense right away. This was especially great for elite enemies and bosses, who usually have powerful skills at their disposal.
The talent tree can also modify or completely change Corvus’ moves. There’s an upper limit to the number of talent points you can have, which means you can’t just maximize everything, so making good choices is key to turning you into a real killing machine. Options like extending the deflection window or turning your counter into a block are interesting, but I leaned more towards the abilities that gave me offensive buffs when dodging last minute attacks or expanding my normal and claw attack combos. Combining these with health gains and dodging expansion options allows me to fine-tune my playstyle, but most options modify your gameplay with passive improvements or added utilities rather than completely overhauling the way you handle combat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit the scope of what’s possible in combat, and people who like power-focused builds with big guns will fall short here.