It’s that time again! In this week’s GameLuster comparison, we’ll be comparing the latest Soulslike with the original Souls game. That’s right, this is OverBorder Studio’s Thymesia VS FromSoftware’s Dark Souls: Remastered. We’ll be breaking down what makes them similar, where they differentiate, and deciding which we think may be right for you – and of course, which we prefer. For simplicity, we’ll be referring to Dark Souls: Remastered as Dark Souls from here on out. For a full deep dive into the latest Soulslike game, you can check out our Thymesia review here.
We know it’s hardly a fair fight this week, with the Dark Souls series practically being part of gaming history at this point. This comparison seeks to help players make decisions on what games they want to play, and while we know it’ll be hard to live up to Dark Souls, we also want to let potential players know what Thymesia has to offer. It may have been more trendy for our comparison to include Elden Ring, but we’re trying to be fair here. Elden Ring is very different to past Souls games with its open world design, so we won’t be including it today. Now let’s dive into the comparison!
The graphics in Thymesia are surprisingly cohesive with the Souls series. Ruined landscapes, murky, foggy depths and ancient crumbling walls, they all look great in Thymesia. Textures and models look lovely, especially on the enemies. The colors of the game do seem to leave something to be desired though. If you ever wanted a game full with shades of brown, I’ve got the game for you! A lot of Thymesia’s locations have some degree of brown in them, despite the variety and occasional strong color areas, and it all can start to feel a bit icky and dirty. This isn’t helped by the mass of fog in the game, which can make areas feel suffocated and somewhat dull.
As for Dark Souls, this game also has a pretty dreary atmosphere. The difference however comes in the way that this darkness doesn’t feel as mucky. The dark background colors in Dark Souls can be shades of gray, green or even subtle blues, and this makes the colors feel more varied. The game isn’t the most beautiful game in the world, but like Thymesia, this game has some pretty sharp character designs and good graphic design overall. An additional point to differentiate Dark Souls from Thymesia however is considerably less fog. There can be some intensely foggy areas, but more so the player has a clear view. This is especially true in open areas, which allow the player to see far off locations that they’ve visited before, in a way that makes the game feel completely sprawling and alive.
In terms of the moment-to-moment gameplay, Thymesia is remarkably similar to Dark Souls. OverBorder Studio have been leaning hard into these similarities with all they’ve shown off from the game, and it’s clearly a major inspiration. There are some differences we can use to compare though, and they are enough to make Thymesia stand out as its own game.
The first is the inclusion of a talent tree, and gaining talent points when you level up. This mechanic allows you to get new powers and abilities as you level up, like an additional dodge or energy restoration bonuses. Dark Souls does not have any type of skill tree, instead focusing on weapons, armor and stats to perfect your build. Leveling up your stats is another mechanic that is far simpler in Thymesia than in Dark Souls. There are only three to change here, and it’s clearly shown in understandable terms what upgrading each one of them affects.
During combat, enemies in Thymesia have two health bars. The white one is damaged through parry attacks and regular sword attacks, and is effectively the HP of the enemy. As this bar goes down, a second, green bar is revealed. This is the Wounds bar. Regular sword attacks are very slow to deplete the Wounds bar, but your special claw attacks or your feather throwables will shred the green bar down. This is slightly similar to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, another FromSoftware title, but nothing of the sort is found in Dark Souls. The Dark Souls experience focuses on very precise combat against one regular HP bar, with no extra frills other than the ability to roll.
Thymesia is considerably shorter than Dark Souls. OverBorder Studio predicts it’ll take players 7-9 hours depending on skill level, compared to Dark Souls having 60-80 hours. There are also only three major level areas, compared to Dark Souls’ 20+ areas. Thymesia could therefore potentially be a good choice for a player’s first Souls game. It’s simpler, it’s shorter, and it has abilities to unlock to make things easier. The only thing that challenges this idea is the fact that combat can sometimes feel unfair, which is a key thing for a Souls game to balance so as to not frustrate the player.
Story and Lore
A terrible plague ravages the Kingdom of Hermes in Thymesia. As the game’s introduction explains in a weirdly voiceless scene, kingdoms of the world tried to fight back against the plague, but failed miserably. What makes the Kingdom of Hermes different is that they can use alchemy to turn the plague into a cure. Your character, Corvus, is the result of some of this alchemical experimentation. The rest is up to you to figure out and explore. This premise is very vague, but I can’t really hold it against Thymesia as Dark Souls also has a very confusing introduction. Players of either game should fully understand what is going on by the end of their journeys, should they explore the lore.
A major part of a Soulslike game is the lore, and both Thymesia and Dark Souls approach the lore differently. Dark Souls lore is told through item descriptions and interactions with extremely creepy British NPCs. Tiny crumbs of information coalesce together, combined with a deeply engaged and dedicated fan community, to create an epic story. There are some big main story beats in the game and a conclusion that ends the story in an understandable way, but there are also huge depths to explore of hidden lore.
In Thymesia, most of the lore is found through collecting story bits, written pieces of information scattered throughout the world. Interacting with them shows you the text on screen, and it is up to you to piece together these scraps of lore to understand the whole narrative. As with other parts of the game, this is another thing Thymesia does that is simpler. If you don’t want to rummage through hours of item descriptions, NPC dialogue trees and YouTube videos to completely understand the Dark Souls lore, then Thymesia might be for you. Many though will find appeal in the opposite, as the hunt for lore and the thrill of finding connections in Dark Souls is a wonderful experience.
As we started, we know it’s a little unfair to compare Thymesia to Dark Souls. Whilst we clearly think Dark Souls is better, this doesn’t mean that there’s no reason to play Thymesia. Despite its flaws, it would work well as an introductory Soulslike game. A simpler way of collecting lore, as well as limited stat options and a shorter runtime make it easy to play when in a rush, or if you’re indecisive about diving into Soulslike games. The only potential barrier is the combat, which is more complicated and finicky than that of Dark Souls. There are times when frustration may be off putting to a player of Thymesia in ways that Dark Souls manages to make feel more fair.
The choice is yours which of these you should play, and we hope we equipped you with enough information to make your decision. Both are worthy games, yet they are quite different. Are you picking up Thymesia today? How do you think it compares to Dark Souls? If there’s anything we missed, let us know in the comments below. For more Soulslike coverage, keep your eyes on GameLuster.