Thymesia is a Souls-like that sees you play as Corvus, a reincarnated warrior with amnesia. Though unsure of your standing in the world, you are guided by a spectral visage that tasks you with uncovering the secrets of “Vile Blood” and “Pure Blood”.
Trappings of Souls titles are aplenty, with things like lanterns serving as bonfires, a spectral home base where you upgrade your character, and labyrinthine level design littered with shortcuts. The four levels are pretty small, and each successive one gets smaller. Each area has side quests that add a bit of additional content, though. Visually, the environments greatly differ from one another, but do borrow heavily from the FromSoftware playbook; a poisonous forest, blood-soaked caverns, and an abandoned village. The levels add their own visual twists: the forest features a travelling circus, and you reach the bloody caverns through a series of arboretums, but nothing feels wholly original.
Gameplay offers a mix of hack and slash combat with the meticulous attack and dodge schema you’d expect from Dark Souls, and that’s problematic. A combat system like this requires a degree of precision that Thymesia doesn’t have. Inputs fail to register often, daggers used to counter critical strikes are more likely to go through enemies than hit, and many enemy combos last long enough that dodging is pointless.
All these flaws are further amplified during bosses, where you have a greater need for precision that just isn’t there. However, if you get past the first boss, it should be smooth sailing. The challenge is front-loaded, and as you level up and unlock perks, the difficulty doesn’t scale with you much, making the back half of the game largely trivial.
Minute-to-minute combat against regular enemies is pretty fun, thanks largely to the game’s best idea: reaving. You use a charge attack to steal special moves from enemies and it’s a great system that’s well-implemented. It slots into the flow of combat well, and chaining combos is satisfying, and more importantly, fun. If more of the game had the degree of polish that reaving does, the game could have been something special.
The end result is a small-scale game with lofty aspirations that miss the mark. Stealing specials is great, but everything surrounding that is unimpressive.