The Soulslike subgenre is one of the most popular genres of modern gaming, one that is evolving quite a lot with every new game. Innovating in the already well-packed action RPG genre is difficult, and in the case of Soulslike, it’s arguably hard to pinpoint what makes the genre so enticing — complex narratives, ruthless combat, or huge in-game worlds. This is part of the reason why a huge chunk of Soulslikes are hit or miss, despite tracing down many ideas to the core.
Many games like Lords of the Fallen have proved that there’s a lot more to nail down for a perfect Soulslike instead of copying as many elements as possible. OverBorder Studio’s Thymesia is another such Soulslike that has just been announced, and it’s in a similar boat. It’s more important than ever for Thymesia to veer away from Dark Souls comparisons and sell itself entirely on its unique ideas.
The Soulslike genre is still growing, and coupled with the ever-increasing fanbase, creating a game based on the source material is certainly rewarding. However, the myriad of systems and mechanics that makes the original Dark Souls games unique can often be difficult to replicate. It might not sound like a big deal at first, but there are so many great nuances to the experience that reproducing similar results can be a painstaking gauntlet of game development.
That’s not to say that it hasn’t been tried, far from it. Many developers, Deck13 Interactive in particular, are a great example of endeavoring to replicate the Soulslike experience, but not hitting quite the mark. Both Lords of the Fallen and The Surge are great games in their own rights, which sport equal parts new and old ideas, yet fall short when compared to the obvious inspiration of Dark Souls. There’s a decent chance that the games might have fared a lot better if such comparisons could’ve been avoided on the part of the developers, as well as fans.
Contrary to these games, many developers have taken the foundation of the Souls games and built an idea around it, while not directly replicating gameplay concepts. Games such as Hollow Knight and Dead Cells are great examples, as they take a few mechanics and concepts from the Souls games and combine them with radically different elements at the focal point of the gameplay experience.
OverBorder Studio’s Thymesia has just been announced, and its inspirations are quite obvious. From what’s known, the game looks to be building upon a familiar Soulslike formula and combining ideas from different games alongside some new ideas of its own. Despite such inspirations, it also seemingly follows the same tropes that most other Soulslikes do. While that may not disqualify the possibility of Thymesia being a great game in the subgenre, its reliance on too many inspirations may not impress among Soulslike fans.
The game’s movement system isn’t quite as nimble as Sekiro, or as slow and methodical as something like Dark Souls, but rather something in between the two extremes. The same can be said for its combat as well, which is neither too parry-heavy like Sekiro, or dodge-reliant like Dark Souls. Such a thing also extends to the narrative and the world at large as well, which also combines a seemingly Dark Souls plotline along with a Bloodborne-Esque Gothic theme.
Adding these things up with the game’s new ideas, such as a dash move and its plague weapons, it becomes uncertain as to what Thymesia is aiming for within the constraints of such a genre.
As much as the comparisons to the Souls games would drive a lot of attention towards Thymesia, it might not be the best in the long run. Thymesia would need to go toe-to-toe against a great deal of AAA heavy-hitters including the likes of Elden Ring. This might prove to be tough for Thymesia, as the game’s scale and scope seem to be more focused and condensed compared to its competitors.
This makes it essential that Thymesia makes a strong point for itself, and embrace its original ideas confidently to steer away from Dark Souls comparisons. Putting a strong foot on its originality might be the best option, as it allows for the game to shine the brightest on its own merits, which the game seemingly has quite a bit. Games like Nioh have shown that choosing to go this route may well guarantee a higher chance of success, and a strong foundation built on original ideas may very well create a good enough route for future entries in the franchise.
Hopefully, Thymesia‘s plague weapons and other ideas showcase a lot of potential and it comfortably garners its own niche with fans of the Soulslike genre.
Thymesia will launch for PC in 2021.