Demo: Thy Sword
Despite the overabundance of generic dime-a-dozen medieval fantasy (J)RPGs, less variants take on the seemingly fitting cimmerian lore of Conan the Barbarian – a gritty low fantasy style which surely would suit cRPGs perfectly. Thy Sword seeks to correct this by lovingly filling you with arrows before decapitating you. It’s nothing personal, it just nets the extra coins I need for that sword upgrade.
As will most probably be readily apparent by the screenshots, Thy Sword is a retro style arcade-inspired game, with low res retro pixel graphics, classic chunky chiptunes (some of my favourite so far) and classic gameplay that leans toward the straightforward pick up ‘n play school of gaming. And just like most arcade games of old, it also has a coop multiplayer mode.
Given all this Thy Sword‘s gameplay is more about fast paced chopping and cutting than managing ability cooldowns as seen in many mobile “games”. It’s a (relatively) limited moveset, compared to say, Volgarr the Viking, but you do pack a bow somewhere in your loincloth(?) with limited ammo to take down the more
annoying dangerous enemies from a safe distance. And there’s a slightly tricky-to-time decapitation blow that evokes memories of playing Barbarian on the c64, which, if pulled off, nets precious extra coins.
Adding to the more modern influences, there’s some Rogue-y procedurally generated level layouts, village stores stocking items/upgrades randomly, and a single death causing your old friend permadeath to rear its bony skeletal mug, forcing you to start all over again from scratch.
Not that permadeath is terrible, but it may be the factor that may cleave Thy Sword‘s audience in half, skeleton and all, since sometimes the game doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be an arcade-action game or a roguelike. Despite the procedural-generation, levels play out in pretty much the exact same way every time. Lacking the depth of games like Spelunky, Thy Sword sometimes feels more like a particularly punishing arcade game that gives you 1 life and no continues.
Unless permadeath is against your religion though, this still shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem for the relatively short four areas the demo serves up. As for the full game – I suspect it may very well introduce a checkpoint system or similar.
Grim reapers aside, Thy Sword is already shaping up to be a fun old school hack n slash game. The demo is relatively limited for now; there are some equipment upgrades to buy but that’s about it. The official page hints at a lot more equipment, monsters to smoosh, an experience/levelling system, some very un-Conan-like magical abilities and a larger range of moves and magic abilities to play with.
Whatever the crystal ball holds for Thy Sword, for now, the demo provides some free, easy to pick up and play action for two players that involves decapitation without needing to clean the blood of the carpets later (always such a pain).