Once in a while, there's a game that oozes style, fun gameplay, and a considerable challenge all in one package. Sometimes, games like these come out of nowhere and become a sleeper hit via word of mouth. Upon release, Thymesia's intricate gameplay and the familiar yet unique setting began to spread on social media, even capturing my attention. I wasn't aware of Thymesia before a few days ago and having the chance to play it up to the first "real" boss, I'd say this is the closest to a spiritual successor to Bloodborne that players are going to get.
The story begins with a once flourishing kingdom known as Hermes, cursed with a plague that was once avoided through the use of alchemy. As its citizens become infected with the feral plague, one mysterious figure named Corvus fights through the chaos and regains their memory. Corvos has the ability to wield the power of the plague to his liking and his survival, using it against those who wish to see him dead. The unique thing about Thymesia's story is that it's disjointed as we're attempting to retrieve his memories in the present time.
The word Thymesia comes from the Greek word thymesis, which translates to "Memory." As one expects, "Memory" plays a huge role in Corvos's story and why we are fighting to begin with. It's not clear why things are the way they are, it's not clear to the protagonist as well. This leaves the story up for interpretation as it gradually unravels while letting the player focus on the gameplay itself. Coincidentally, it's the same formula the actual Souls games utilize to provide world-building without overwhelming the player.
Thymesia's gameplay is fast-paced in comparison to other "Souls" games, instead resembling more like Bloodborne. Early on, there are upgrades that will allow the player to restore health as they deal constant damage, much like the former. Thymesia encourages smart offense over merely turtling as the enemy's health can quickly recover. There are two methods of dealing damage by inflicting wounds and dealing health damage. Corvos's saber and claws deal health and wound damage respectively and both are required to defeat even the smallest of enemies.
Using the saber, Corvos can whittle away at an opponent's health, exposing a blue bar underneath. The saber itself does little damage on its own, yet the claws deal damage to the exposed wounds, lowering their health. Claws on an enemy with full health, conversely, will do very little damage. The order begins with using the saber to soften an opponent's health then using the claws to rip them to shreds until they become dazed. Once dazed, they can be executed which will restore health and energy depending on upgrades.
Failure to sustain damage or using your claws to shred their wound meter will cause the enemy to recover health over time according to how much blue health they have remaining. If you think of their base health as armor that regenerates and blue health as the "actual" health bar, it's easier to understand. Unfortunately, you don't have that luxury as when you take damage you do not recover your health over time organically. You can use your claws to "reave" the enemy's weapons using them for your own via a one-time use. Eventually, you'll have the ability to craft your own reaver weapons at the expense of energy.
Outside of the tutorial level, the game doesn't hold your hand nor pull its punches. In typical "Souls" fashion, the first tutorial boss is set up in a way to kill you but it's required to progress through the story. The first level is an abandoned carnival overrun with the plague, with documents spread about as a way to provide lore to the player. This level's boss is a ringleader who throws cards at you like Gambit and deals close-range offense like Testament. Also, in typical Souls fashion, this boss has an attack where if you do not deal with it accordingly, it will be an instant kill.
Overall, Thymesia is a great experience thus far, especially for the asking price point. While it is a budget price, the game certainly doesn't feel like it's on a budget as I've paid more for less. Fans remotely interested in high-paced action games, despite being a "Soulsborne" will find interest in the mysterious plagued world of Thymesia.
Thymesia is available on Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S.