Secret of never again
In my four decades of gaming, there have been very few ‘new’ genres, and even fewer that have proven to have lasting staying power. Aside from the phenomenon that is Battle Royale, there is probably only one genre born in the 21st century that has proven itself with consistent and established success among developers, gaming communities, and cash registers: The Soulslike.
A sub-genre of RPGs, Soulslikes generally feature a deep, grim lore, an emphasis on exploration, heavy protagonists, and a typically grim gothic aesthetic. Oh, and they’re tough as nails, too. And yet, despite its sheer difficulty, steep learning curve, and joyless behavior, the Soulslike genre has captivated a large community of devotees, won over by FromSoftware epics like Demon Souls, Bloodborneand one of the best releases of the year to date, elden ring.
Capitalizing on the current craze for hardcore hack ‘n’ slashers, OverBorder Studio and UK publisher Team 17 have thrown their own black cloak into the gloom, with the arrival of their own take on Soulslike, Timesia. Featuring a dark, nightmarish aesthetic, a daunting current affairs story of an unstoppable pandemic, and ruthless, terrifying difficulty, timesia He makes no secret of his desire to be the next challenge for the sadistic fans of the genre that mercy forgot.
timesia (PS5 [reviewed]PC, Xbox Series X/S)
Developer: OverBorder Studio
Release: August 18, 2022
timesia, (a Greek derivative of “Memory”), is set in the desperate Kingdom of Hermes, a once-thriving community now inundated with plague, calamity, and death. Corvus, a young and mysterious stranger suffering from his own affliction, total amnesia, enters this sad city. Not long after making his way through the corpse-strewn streets, Corvus enters the palace walls only to find himself on the business end of a royal beating. After the defeat, our hero awakens in the quiet but bleak Everglades of Philosopher’s Hill, cared for by a very young girl, wise beyond her years, Aisemy.
Within this framing device, Corvus must revisit the events of his recent life, piecing together the actions and reactions that led them to Hermes’ sick gateway. Along the way, they must collect small, subtle bits of information to help their new compadre piece together the lore of the land, the conception of the plague, and the actions that brought a relatively peaceful city to its knees. If they make full recovery, then Corvus and Aisemy may discover more than just the falsities of their own legacies, they may discover the answers to end the epidemic entirely.
A punishing action RPG, timesia he wears his influences so extensively on his steel-coated sleeve that it’s frankly ridiculous not to mention it right away. timesia it’s not just a Soulslike, but has gone to great lengths to be as reminiscent of its bigger-budget, larger-scale siblings. Every box is checked, from the game’s overall dour demeanor, to the save points that illuminate beacons, the clashing steel combat, the oversized boss battles, the long “single-line” health bars, and, of coursered writing that slowly fades each time Birdy hits the bricks (although “Memory Interrupted” replaces “You Died” here).
Under the watchful eye of his young friend, Corvus embarks on a series of “Reminders”, basically embodying his own adventures in real time. These adventures see Corvus retract the events that brought the kingdom to its knees and saw our beak-faced friend draw a great old blank. What this translates to, in terms of gameplay, is a series of mini-map adventures, which see Corvus explore various areas of Hermes and battle infected locals, the decaying remnants of the king’s army, and more than a fair share of nightmare monsters and mutants.
As is customary in the genre, each enemy in timesia is a legitimate death threat, with even the most Ray Harryhausen-like skeleton having the ability to snap Corvus out of the memory bank and back into the cold void of his own brain. Combat, from the lowliest soldier to the mightiest boss, is a matter of pattern recognition, precision evasion, and expert parrying. You know, of course you know, because you know the score for Soulslike. It is important to note that OverBorder Games knows that you know, and waste little time setting up the metaphorical dinner table, throwing yourself into a pit of misery, and raining axes on your dome in a matter of seconds.
Corvus is equipped with a dagger to parry and a saber to hurt his opponent. Additionally, the hero’s razor-sharp claws can be used to keep those wounds open, and combat boils down to a tight formula of saber swipes to damage armor, claw swipes to shred health, and smart parries to open up enemy defense. . Enemies also have specials, which can only be stopped by clever acrobatics or the release of the mythical “Raven Feathers”. Unfortunately, this last mechanic is sorely poorly implemented, with the effectiveness of feather toss proving such a coin toss, that it’s almost always better to hit the skids and live to fight another round. Hopefully this can be improved in a later update.
In addition to the old one-two, Corvus can use his pest control mastery to “Draw” weapons from his opposition. Upon defeating him, Corvus can use a charged claw attack to essentially “steal” a spirit version of the enemy’s axe, scythe, spear, broadsword, bow, or any other type of skullbreaker. Using “memories” (XP) collected from battle (and piecing together his fragmented past), Corvus can level up not only his attack, defense, and acrobatic abilities, but also apply various effects to his plague arsenal, allowing combos, air assaults, floor sweeps, and ground-breaking ground slams.
As one might expect, timesia It’s not easy, and newcomers should be aware of the combative structure that is at the core of both this release and the genre itself. However, it’s important to note that combat is never unfair, and is simply a matter of patience, wits, reactions, and experience… Oh, that being said, the boss “Varg” has a painfully unfair unlockable, which is pretty much the only time that game made me cluck “That’s bullshit” style.
A game that places its core action above all other factors, it is vital that timesiaThe combat is solid and engaging. And I’m happy to report that it is. Here lies a meaty challenge designed to punish the arrogant and impatient, while box breakers will have a blast collecting all the Plague Weapons, digging up memory scraps, and experimenting with the game’s potion and alchemy mechanics. This variety of build opportunities gives Corvus a certain sense of variety, which somewhat makes up for the complete lack of visual customization of the protagonist.
While it may seem like this review has focused too much on fighting, it should be noted that this is by design. timesiaAs a low to mid budget title, it doesn’t offer much opulence. The cast is incredibly small, there’s no voice acting or narration, and the Kingdom of Hermes feels somewhat compact compared to the gigantic labyrinths fans of the genre will be used to. timesiaThe story of is conceptually interesting, but ultimately represents little more than collecting very much of notes These clues form a story of conspiracy, classism and alchemical arts, but without the necessary tools to translate ideas dramatically. timesia offers multiple endings depending on how much of Corvus’s memory is restored, so 100% ‘ers will be in their element.
timesia It’s undeniably plagued by its limitations, but OverBorder Studio has worked within those very limitations to deliver a short, sharp, and impactful gaming experience. The visuals are adequate, the special effects are impressive, and the highly cinematic score nicely accentuates the action. bombastic, timesia it’s technically rock-solid, runs (on PS5) at an extremely consistent frame rate, and highlights your action with a reliable, smart, and unobtrusive camera.
Taking feedback from early demos, Overborder improved control response time, nearly eliminated camera drift, and fixed several other combat-related issues in the game. If the first demo didn’t work for you, know that many of the issues have been fixed. This day, timesia he plays very cleanly and feels good while doing it, making sure that the only thing he will have to worry about is taking a dagger or three to the spleen.
I have no doubt that right now, somewhere on the Internet, someone is writing “A Poor Man’s Dark souls.” and while it is, frankly, impossible not to see timesia As a low-budget version of its blockbuster brethren, that plain sound bite is doing the title an injustice. Those who have not yet immersed themselves in the Soulslike genre should consider giving this new release a whiplash, as timesia works well as an “onboarding” title for those who like to dip their toe in blacker waters, but might not be ready to suffocate in a hundred-hour epic of a blood borne or a elden ring. By contrast, veterans of the genre who are willing to commit to timesia‘s shortcomings will find several hours of sick and satisfying action adventure lurking.
timesia he’s not shy about his influences, an admission that helps Y it hurts the title when it is inevitably compared to its legendary brethren. But any Soulslike fan willing to look past budget shortfalls will find this unassuming monster shredder a great way to spend a gloomy weekend. Weather timesia certainly lacking in some key departments, the solid control, satisfying combat, moody atmosphere, and compelling challenge are still worth bragging about.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]