Review: Clumsy Soulslike Thymesia Has Some Good Ideas, Poor Execution

Ah, yes. Another action role-playing game taking place in a devastated land full of insane people with gameplay mechanics involving a dodge with i-frames and difficult combat. That’s good and all, but From Software’s titles are extremely polished with satisfying combat and an intriguing world to explore. Thymesia just ain’t it.

Tymesia is an action role-playing soulslike. In it, you play as Covus, the plague masked and crow feathered super edgy fighting guy. Corvus lives in an ultra-grim dark Kingdom of Hermes which has fallen into an a time of darkness. Its citizens turned to the use of alchemy, and through its overuse, brought upon disease and plague and otherwise really bad things. Corvus has memories that are key to undoing this calamity, and you have to bring him through the world unlocking these memories, fighting twisted creatures and bosses along the way. While I don’t hate its premise, soulslike games live and die by the way their combat feels, and Thymesia just doesn’t hold up.

Screenshot: Thymesia

I’ve played a lot of soulslike games, and that includes the actual Dark Souls series for possibly thousands of hours. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been spoiled by how fluid and mechanically satisfying games like Dark Souls can be.  Thymesia doesn’t have the same tight controls as a From Software game. It comes close, but feels like a cheap imitation in comparison.  Combat is floaty, hits don’t feel as visceral, and for some reason, I have to constantly fight with the camera to get it to point where I want it to.

Thymesia does make some significant changes to the soulslike formula, however—and while I applaud the efforts, none of the changes are something I found myself wanting. Instead of having a variety of weapons to find and use for their different playstyles, most of the playstyle modifications come from Thymesia’s skill tree and with special weapons called plague weapons. These plague weapons aren’t really weapons you use frequently, but act more like abilities. If you don’t like Corvus’ main set of swords, you’re out of luck—because you’re stuck with them.

Screenshot: Thymesia

Another soulslike deviancy is the tendency for enemies to regain health if you don’t take down their second health bar. Every enemy has two health bars: the regular white bar, and the plague bar underneath which can more effectively be taken down by Corvus’ claw attack. It’s a concept that I was initially ready to embrace,  but it ends up making enemy fights more frustrating than interesting.

Thymesia is a hard game, and you can expect to die multiple times. While in a game like Dark Souls that’s okay because the gameplay is so satisfying, I didn’t find the same satisfaction with Thymesia. I would more often find myself running past enemy encounters just to get to the next section of the game, instead of indulging myself in combat for the sake of it.

Screenshot: Thymesia

Exploring in Thymesia is similarly disappointing to its combat. Exploration does yield lore and other tidbits of the Kingdom of Hermes. But the level design is bland and boring compared to the inspired layouts of the soulslike games.  

I was excited for Thymesia, but it was hard for me to keep my interest. While there are certainly some interesting boss encounters, I found most enemy encounters bland, and the level design to be too mundane. As far as Dark Souls clones go, Thymesia has been one of my least favorites. If you’re absolutely curious, check out the demo on the Steam Store page. Otherwise, just go back to one of From Software’s classics.

Thymesia is available today on Steam, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.

A Steam key was provided to us for this review

Antal Bokor
Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian.
He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.

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