An Oldé Worldé platform hopping, sword swinging, side-scrolling, slash-em-up, built upon well-worn fantasy tropes. It didn’t see me going in with any sort of genuine anticipation of great things. However, I leave utterly adoring the game.
There is definitely, something magical about this time of year. The starting line if you will, in the run up to Christmas. It’s at this point in the calendar that fondly reminiscing about bygone childhood days paints vivid images of innocence, excitement, and, the beautiful video game genre known as side-scrolling hack and slash! Nothing quite takes me back to my youth like stepping into the pixelated boots of my sword and bow wielding warrior and laying merry hell across a screen of bad guys.
And this, is where Thy Sword fits seamlessly into my wintery gaming plans.
Thy Sword, from Gamephase, is a time machine in video game form. From the opening title screen, and as the wonderfully retro and beautifully realised soundtrack dances from the speakers, Thy Sword plays like something of a love letter to times gone by. The history of its creators is instantly apparent in this lovingly built title. Echoes of games we once loved fill the room as play unfolds, yet, Thy Sword still manages to stand and fight on its own two feet, and as its own unique beast with some modern tropes thrown into the mix.
We have co-op play, and a deathmatch option alongside the classic hack and slash we know so well. But more on those soon, first let’s talk single-player.
The story is classically simple, plucked straight from, The Art of Writing Fantasy, chapter one. There is a Dark Overlord to be defeated, a quest for some ancient crystals, and a lot of enemies in between to be despatched. But, it really doesn’t matter. The threadbare plot is simply there as garnish to the gameplay, and it’s in this department that Thy Sword truly shines.
Pure Retro Brilliance
The action is fast-paced, slick, and utterly engaging. I was unsure going in as to the level this game could grab my attention, and then hold it for longer than a brief dalliance. My uncertainty was laid to rest around the same time as my first goblin looking bad guy. As well as being an absolute blast to play, Thy Sword, is damned addictive. The basics see the player enter a one screen level filled with various enemies, collectables, platforms, and ladders, where they then have to send each baddie to meet their maker via a swing of the sword or well-timed arrow. Along the way goodies are dropped or fall from smashed barrels that can be collected by the player, and eventually, when the level is clear of monsters, the exit door opens and the player can proceed. Some levels bring darkness into play where monsters can appear from the gloom or as lightning illuminates the screen, adding another layer of challenge to an already challenging adventure. Oh, and there are boss battles aplenty to test even the boldest of swordsman. As a package, Thy Sword, has plenty going on.
The game mechanics are simple, but play like an absolute dream. The controls are tight, the retro goodness drips from the screen, and the challenge is alive and kicking. One sign that Thy Sword is a real slice of gaming goodness is that when Death comes for us, and Death will take us fairly frequently in this one, it never raises the frustration or anger. This is in part down to procedurally generated levels keeping things fresh, and is also because the game is just so brilliantly addictive it constantly brings that little voice to life that says, “Just one more go.”
Our hero can be controlled by keyboard or controller, and, as primarily a console gamer, I opted for the pad. It does a solid job. It was a little weird using the shoulder buttons over the triggers, and the d-pad for movement where the sticks have become the norm, but that is purely down to having hands moulded by traditional console action. Thankfully, as the game progresses the control scheme quickly become second nature, and in reality the d-pad use is another lovely throwback to simpler times.
What Thy Sword does wonderfully well is, it takes something that is inherently simple and makes it absolutely magical. Building a simple game is one thing, but building one that gets its hooks in early and then holds you in its gaze as the clock on the wall whizzes by unnoticed, is an incredible feat! Especially in a day and age where games, in many cases, have become goliath, world spanning epics blessed with Hollywood looks and cinema soundtracks. Even the usually dreaded tutorial is fun to whizz through!
Going in I honestly didn’t know how I’d take to the game. An Oldé Worldé platform hopping, sword swinging, side-scrolling, slash-em-up, built upon well-worn fantasy tropes. It didn’t see me going in with any sort of genuine anticipation of great things. However, I leave utterly adoring the game.
Thy Sword stands as a reminder of where many of us came from. It doffs a cap to games gone by, it shakes a few by the hand, and it gives a big bloody bear hug to one or two, but then it re-imagines them in a new, exciting, and deeply enjoyable way that sits beautifully in 2017. The love bestowed upon the game by its creators is blatant, and spills from the screen in the form of adorably pixelated graphics and a killer retro soundtrack. And I love it.
The co-op and deathmatch modes add legs to the game, and are welcome as Thy Sword can be beaten in one sitting. This was not a feat I managed myself however, as I instead battled to glorious death after glorious death, and then blamed it on my retro rustiness.
On the surface it may appear that, Thy Sword, could be a niche title aimed at those of us who still like to dip a toe or two into the retro gaming waters. However, it most definitely holds much, much more than that. I’m not particularly a big fan of retro gaming you see, but, I am a very big fan of Thy Sword. Don’t get me wrong, Thy Sword, is not a game that will see you through an entire winter, it will arrive, delight, and depart. But, it is wonderful company whilst it lasts. And on that basis, I feel very happy to recommend you stop reading now, and welcome this little gem of a game into your own collection.