Thymesia is OverBoard Studio’s take on a grueling action RPG – aka Souls-like – that takes several pages out of FromSoftware’s development book while introducing its own unique systems.
To release a souls-like game in 2022, especially following the release of GOTY contender Elden Ring, is a bold move to say the least. But not even the plague could stop Corvus from… well… stopping the plague.
Thymesia is the first project to come out of OverBoard Studios, and it’s a pretty strong launch for the developers. Souls-like it may be, but it does have its own style oozing out of every puss-riddled corner.
That being said, its style doesn’t bring anything too exciting to the genre. It’s another gothic-inspired horrorscape offering little-to-no exploration, the combat is a bewildering mix of fun yet frustrating, and while customization options are available, choosing your own playstyle feels very limited.
Thymesia: Key Details
- Developer: OverBoard Studio
- Price: $29.99 USD
- Release Date: August 18, 2022
- Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, PC
Battling health with sickness
Like any action RPG, Thymesia’s main focus is on its robust combat system. Each enemy has two health bars layered on top of one another. The white bar can be whittled away by using a sword (light attack) revealing the enemy’s actual health as a green bar underneath.
Players will use Corvus’ claw attacks to remove the green bar before enemies have the chance to regain their white health. An enemy can only be defeated once both bars are depleted and they’re finished off with one final attack.
This means players will have to weave together sword and claw attacks to take down opponents, but it sounds easier than it actually is to pull off; enemies don’t stagger easily, meaning players will have to avoid or parry constant (and sometimes unpredictable) attacks.
In other souls-like games, parrying opens up opportunities for players to punish their enemies, but in Thymesia it only reflects the damage back onto the opponent. Against the majority of the game’s bosses, it’s one of the best ways to deal damage, but it feels useless against many run-of-the-mill enemies.
That’s not to say combat can’t be enjoyable. Boss fights – with the exception of the giant bloody bat – are challenging and fun. You learn attack patterns and use that knowledge to best the strongest foes in some pretty intense battles. But it’s fighting the grunts throughout the rest of the game that gets annoying as you have to fight them if you want to collect resources to unlock new plague weapons.
I found myself running past the majority of enemies rather than fighting them. A lot of instances have the player running into two or more enemies at a time, but Thymesia’s combat system works best when you’re fighting one on one. Luckily, each level is relatively short and fairly streamlined so you don’t have to worry about running too far to get to the next boss.
The issue is, Thymesia’s combat rides on how you build your character, and you can only upgrade them to a better state if you battle the grunts. In some capacity, this grind feels like an artificial way to inflate the game’s time to complete. But it’s a necessary evil to get to a point where you can handle the next boss.
What’s with the long nose?
Thymesia is a very gothic game. I mean, you play as a long-nosed hooded plague doctor – the edge speaks for itself. But I feel like this beloved style could’ve gone further.
World building is an incredibly important aspect of souls-like games. Every festering crack or steaming pile of corpses should work toward telling a greater story, and I don’t think Thymesia’s atmosphere was trying to tell me anything.
The main character, Corvus, is stellar design-wise, but his brooding silent-protagonist vibes feel overdone. Bosses, while fun to fight, feel like B-list Dark Souls rejects. Scripted death? Check! Giant bloody rodent? Check! A fight against yourself? Double check!
And I haven’t even mentioned the restrictive level design yet. Players are funneled to the end of every level with little to no incentive to go off the beaten path. There are also nonsensical barriers that keep the player from entering certain areas. One pile of barrels can be dashed through while another pile is impenetrable. And any small caveat you may stumble upon is a dead end with usually nothing of interest.
The levels themselves aren’t even that interesting to look at. There’s a library full of blood and a carnival that looks like wax, but it feels like these levels are trying too hard to present an atmosphere of despair without providing any real substance.
The Verdict – 6/10
Thymesia certainly isn’t the worst indie Souls-like money can buy. Especially for its reasonable price point, players get a handful of really fun and challenging boss battles, but I wish the levels in between didn’t come across as filler. Thymesia ends up feeling like Bloodborne’s younger, less-gifted cousin — he may not be all that great, but he still has some redeeming qualities.
Reviewed on PC.