Publisher: Ratalakia Games
Genre: Hack and Slash Platformer
Platform: PlayStation 4
Age Rating: Pegi 12
Release Date: 13/05/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
In recent years, popular culture has shifted and I have found myself being horrifyingly referred to as a “retro hipster”. Admittedly, I do collect vintage action figures and retro games consoles. I have done since I was a child in the 90’s. I collect these things because they are tiny windows into the past, little reminders of youth and imagination that I can hold in my hand. Playing through Thy Sword invoked the same feelings of nostalgia and wonder in me.
I wasn’t expecting much from this fantasy based hack and slash platformer. I should know better than to judge a book by its cover. Soon after starting the game I realised I was going to enjoy it far more than I expected. The style and influences of this game are instantly recognisable and brilliantly implemented.
Stabbing The Past
Thy Sword draws influence heavily from early consoles such as the Amiga and arcade classics like Golden Axe. To sum up the visual style of Thy Sword, I would say think of Golden Axe but made in Minecraft. Arcade influences and references are used effectively across the game. Little details like pixelated coins being fed into machine slots and flashing death animations, they all add to that arcade feel and the style of this game.
You play as one of two characters, a Barbarian or a Valkyrie (a further two characters, a Paladin and a Rogue, can be unlocked). The Barbarian is tough and hardy, equipped with a broadsword. The Valkyrie is a more rounded character, equipped with a short sword and bow. Each character has a standard slash attack and a wind up chop attack. A screen clearing magic attack is also available but must first be charged in order to unleash its power.
The Quest At Hand
Your mission is simple: you must free the land of Nhaastans from the tyrannous Dark Overlord. You do this in the same way you defeat every enemy in the game, chop off his head! The controls of Thy Sword are simple but slick, pulling off the wind up chop attack and sending the head of a foe head flying is surprisingly satisfying every time.
You fight across 13 lands of Nhaastans to reach the Dark Overlord in his shadowy castle. Each land is split into a number of single screen stages. Enemies are varied and have simple but distinct attack patterns and counters.
Thy Sword has five bosses to defeat before you face the Dark Overlord. These boss encounters are fairly varied and offer a much higher challenge than enemies encountered in the rest of the game. The final battle of the game took me a good half an hour of tense action to even get close to saving the day.
A horde of loot is stashed across the stages and defeated foes yield yet more currency. A number of stages also have locked chests whose key is guarded by a jittery crow. Knock the key from the crow’s grip before it flies away to plunder the treasure contained within the chest.
Please Gamble Responsibly
The riches you acquire during your travels can be spent (or gambled) in a village hub area. A couple of handy characters hang out in the village; a Cleric who sells healing items, a Merchant who sells weapons and equipment, and a small group of gambling fellows who invite you to play Blackjack. You really can’t go wrong by including one of the most exciting card games ever created into your game. I excitedly gambled every gold coin I had on my visits to the village. The ingame economy can’t be destroyed though, after enough wins the house shuts down your streak until your next visit to the village.
The game has three difficulty settings: apprentice, adventurer, and hero. Apprentice allows for infinite continues and no loss of progress or items. Adventure only allows a finite amount of continues before game over and loss of stage progress after each death. Hero challenges you with completing the entire game in only one life. This difficulty scale is simple but effective and further enforces the arcade dynamics and retro feel of Thy Sword.
Thy Sword boasts another kickback to a retro era, full game couch co-op. Something me and a friend enjoyed immensely for a whole evening. A battle mode similar to the action of Duck Game is thrown in for good measure and is unexpectedly addictive once the broadswords start swinging and a feud develops.
Reminders Of A Golden Oldie
If you are old enough to have warm memories of early Amiga games and Golden Axe, you will warm to this game extremely quickly. It pays homage to all the right aspects of arcade and retro gaming. It may not be very long but it is undoubtedly enjoyable and engaging. Well worth the modest price tag.
OK, so I may be a “Retro Hipster” but sometimes things from the past need to be remembered, not because it’s cool or fashionable, but because they are good and worth remembering. To build a better future, we must remember the best from the past. Grab a broadsword or longbow, and take a trip down memory lane with Thy Sword.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You Can Buy Thy Sword Now On The PlayStation Store
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.