Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior Review – An Inventive, Time-Looping Hack and Slash

Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior Review – A New Take on Tactical Hack-and-Slash

Debuting as a new video game development studio must require immense fortitude, as one’s first-ever release paints a forever-seen picture that, in some cases, can make or break future aspirations. A new release perfectly embodying this notion is the Sand Door Studio-developed tactical hack-and-slash Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior. This ambitious adventure features some engaging concepts and a genuinely captivating premise that are undeniably worth perusal, though their collective efficacy will be a hit or miss depending on how one takes the unique combat system.

Mastering the Combat of Lysfanga: Strategy and Action Combined

Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior follows the protagonist Imë, a protector of the realm of Antala known as Lysfanga. She tasks herself with protecting the region after a certain evil escapes following 500 years of peace. Additionally, there is some manner of mystery surrounding her brother Kehor, who acts elusive and loosely antagonistic toward his sister’s efforts to reunite with him. The premise here is quite engaging, especially given the high quality of voice performances here. Everyone enunciates quite strongly, with genuinely emotive deliveries. Even the golems you encounter have personalities shining through each of their lines.

The game’s combat system is a clever melding of strategy and action, requiring on-the-fly thinking and precise execution.

Admittedly, the narrative doesn’t become particularly gripping the further you progress, but it provides compelling enough justification and motivation for Imë’s journey. Further, optional, interesting lore bits are discoverable around the realm, offering in-depth text logs that intrigued parties can dive into. There’s an impressive degree of effort spent on worldbuilding that can really immerse those captivated enough by the setting, ultimately instilling a sense of confidence from the development team at the helm. Plus, the setting itself has standout designs reminiscent of real-life ancient civilizations with ruins and long-since destroyed cities that those enamored by history will find themselves engrossed in.

Challenges in Combat: Addressing Repetition in Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior

Lysfanga The Time Shift Warrior 2

Still, despite the potential strengths one can gather from the setting, storytelling, and character work, the gameplay of Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is where it shines its brightest. At an uninformed first glance, primarily at the artwork, I expected this title to resemble Hades, but it’s not similar whatsoever. Instead, Lysfanga melds multiple genres, making it a truly unique hack-and-slash with strategy at its core. To elaborate, encounters are timed affairs in which your goal is to eliminate all foes, yet your singular self isn’t capable of doing so. So, to remedy this, Imë is gifted the power of summoning a remnant of herself after the time limit runs out. These remnants carry out the same actions your previous selves did, and you have as many attempts as remnants you can conjure, eventually resulting in multiple versions of Imë running around simultaneously. Still, since they mimic your past actions, your current self must carry out different maneuvers to ensure that all foes are slain. It’s a clever concept that is successfully actualized, necessitating on-the-fly pondering over which precise actions you should take.

“The game’s worldbuilding and voice acting add depth and immersion to the experience, despite a narrative that doesn’t quite resonate.

There are various layers to this combat loop, too, since the designs of the enemies differ. For instance, some paired foes need to be defeated roughly simultaneously before the encounter ends, lest they revive gradually. Other enemy types include ones that effectively become bombs once you combo them and foes that cover their fronts with a shield. Every bout is also given challenge times to beat, encouraging replays so that players can understand each environmental layout to the best of their ability. It’s honestly incredibly addictive, made even more approachable by how brief these battles all last, usually culminating in over a minute at most. Contrasting this design choice are the combat actions themselves. Imë’s attacks are straightforward, and the other moves you can perform, like obtainable spells and the special technique known as Power of the Goddess, are equally simple to parse right after their respective introductions.

Despite its addictive combat, Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior struggles with repetitive battles and a lack of environmental interaction.

Still, this simplicity isn’t necessarily a con. Given the brevity of most fights, adding complexity to how combos and such are performed would likely take away from the swiftness the game’s pacing abides by. Still, for as enjoyable as this combat loop is, many battles can blend together. This has the consequence of lacking distinction and memorability, even if that wasn’t supposed to be the intention here. Plus, the general strategies you employ tend to be the same across numerous bouts, with the environment only playing a collectively minor role in decision-making. Again, this isn’t a substantial flaw that detracts from enjoyment, yet it does give off the impression that these gameplay concepts aren’t fully explored or pushed to their limits as they could have been. The variety of your toolkit, including runes that impart passive boons, somewhat supplement the potential dullness that could arise from these cycles.

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Other gameplay features of Lysfanga, though to far less focused extents, are exploration and cosmetic customization. The latter works as you’d expect, with your hub and character armor offering visual variety for player individuality. As for exploration, the areas of Antala are compact, chiefly comprised of linearity with occasional side paths and hidden collectibles beyond destructible terrain. None of it requires much, yet it’s a moderately satisfying practice to perform between battles. On an offhanded note, the character portraits, which are what gave me the Hades impressions in the first place, are gorgeous. Sadly, that same level of quality isn’t quite applied to the environments, yet it’s doubtful you’ll care about that if the gameplay hooks you. Lastly, the performance was inconsistent, with occasional slowdown at various points. It didn’t deter the gameplay, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Innovation in Gameplay: The Unique Appeal of Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior

Crafting unique gameplay grows more difficult with each passing year due to the sheer quantity of releases, so when it’s done at all, that deserves some applause, doubly so when it’s done well. And Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior embodies the fulfillment of that possibility. It doesn’t necessarily accomplish this feat with flying colors due to overt repetition and, at least personally, a narrative that tries but doesn’t really stick the landing. Still, the melding of complexity and simplicity within the combat design, bolstered by puzzle-like problem-solving at its core, provides dosages of brilliantly addictive play sessions. Moreover, the excellent voice acting and undeniable effort poured into the worldbuilding present an endearing flair to an already enjoyable experience. If you’re seeking a refreshing shift from your typical strategy adventures, then Lysfanga is well worth the try.

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A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior (PC)

Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is a fresh take on tactical hack-and-slash, blending simple yet clever combat with a rich, well-voiced narrative. The game's unique system, where you team up with past versions of yourself, adds a cool twist to battles, pushing you to think ahead and strategize. While the fights are thrilling and addictive, they can sometimes feel a bit repetitive. The world is beautifully built, packed with lore and ancient civilization vibes, but the exploration is pretty straightforward. Overall, Lysfanga doesn't hit every note perfectly, but its innovative combat and solid storytelling make it a solid pick for those after something new in the strategy realm.

The Good

  • Engaging Premise and Voice Performances: The game features a captivating premise with high-quality voice performances, delivering emotive and strong deliveries that enhance the storytelling.
  • Unique Combat System: Lysfanga introduces a unique combat system where players summon remnants of themselves to fight alongside, requiring strategic planning and on-the-fly decision-making.
  • Puzzle-Like Problem-Solving: The game's battle system involves puzzle-like problem-solving, making each encounter addictive and engaging due to the strategic depth required to succeed.
  • Detailed Worldbuilding and Setting Design: The game showcases impressive worldbuilding with environments inspired by real-life ancient civilizations, offering an immersive experience for players, especially history enthusiasts.

The Bad

  • Repetitive Battles and Strategies: Many battles can feel similar, with general strategies tending to repeat across different encounters, leading to a lack of distinction and memorability in combat.
  • Underutilized Environmental Factors: The environment plays only a minor role in decision-making during battles, suggesting that gameplay concepts aren't fully explored or pushed to their limits.