Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior Review
With so many new games coming out all the time, I imagine it’s difficult to come up with something different and unique to make your title stand out from all the others. Developer Sand Door Studio and publisher Spotlight by Quantic Dream are releasing Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior, an isometric hack-and-slash action title that was originally slated to release in 2023 but required a bit more time to perfect, which is now ready to go.
At first glance, Lysfanga gives off a Prince of Persia vibe, which is definitely not a bad thing! This imaginary world is inspired by the real-life ancient civilisations of the past with a Persian-inspired soundtrack. The opening cinematic gives players a brief history of the war between the Mayura and the Balara people. After the brutal fighting, the two sides agreed on a truce, and as soon as they stopped fighting, the Raxes appeared. These demons wiped out the Balara people, leaving the leader of the once-rival Mayura army, Qhomera, to react. She ascended to become the Goddess of Time, giving her the power to manipulate time and put time locks around the cities to protect them from the evil Raxes.
After years of peace, the demons have broken free from her spell and can ravage the world once again. Who is going to save the Mayura people from this threat now that the Queen is gone? You play as Imë, the Lysfanga — bringer of light — who is a warrior selected to protect the others in the New Kingdom. She is sent to various cities to investigate and defeat the evil entities that have appeared to once again attack this world. Qhomera, the Goddess of Time, senses that there is a greater threat behind the Raxes and has given Imë the special power of time. Imë doesn’t seem overly excited by this gift; she feels that something like a magic sword would be a lot more useful to her. The goddess explains to her that she now has the ability to rewind time and fight along with her past selves to fight the enemies that she encounters. When you rewind time, a Remnant is created; this is a perfect copy of yourself who replays exactly all the actions that you took before dying. When all played together at the same time, this army will take down all the foes in your path.
With the ability to create copies of yourself, you may be thinking this game is going to be easy. Sorry to crush your hopes, but there is a limit to the number of Remnants that you are able to use each battle: when you first obtain this ability, you will be able to have three copies of yourself per fight. As you progress, you will find remnant shards that will create another copy if you obtain all four pieces. Upon walking past the thin blue line on the floor, you have entered an area full of enemies. You will be able to move the camera around to assess the “battle arena” so you can figure out where you will need to send each of the Remnants to take out all the enemies. You have a set amount of time that your character exists before they die, and you start over from the beginning. The game would be way too easy if the time were unlimited; most of the arenas give you 30 seconds before you are sent back to start over with the next warrior.
Lysfanga is a game full of strategy; you can’t run in and slash every enemy you see. It takes planning to figure out where each of your Remnants will go and who they will attack. It doesn’t make sense to make every clone attack the same enemies. Since you know one of the duplicates is assigned to certain foes, concentrate on clearing out the others. If you use up all of your Remnants before the enemies are all taken out, you will get a Defeated screen and will have to start back at the beginning of this fight or back to your home base. Before the battle starts, you can check out the arena with the camera and take notes of the important parts of each battlefield: from crystals that are blocking other Raxes to “twin enemies” that you need to defeat at the same time as your Remnant to bring them down. These twins need to be taken out simultaneously, or they will keep healing each other, making them nearly impossible to take out alone; you need a plan!
Battles are usually quite short, ranging from 30 seconds to over two minutes. Once you encounter guardian bosses, it will become more challenging as these foes are stronger and come prepared with a shield. This means that you won’t be able to damage them by attacking from the front; you, along with your Remnants, will need to find a way to sneak in from behind to hit their vulnerable spot. As you progress to new areas, you will encounter Unstable Portals. This excess energy causes the existing portals to be overcharged, resulting in them detonating faster, giving you less time to fight. So be prepared to challenge some of these arenas multiple times to figure out the best way to destroy the demons in this short amount of time.
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is a game that is best played using a controller; like other hack-and-slack titles, you move your character using the left thumbstick. There isn’t a separate control for the camera, as it moves according to where you go; it is not stationary, which is nice, so you don’t have many areas where your view is totally blocked by a building or other obstruction. Dash using the lower face button, besides giving you a burst of speed, is also used to cross gaps in the ground. Hit left face button to swing your weapon at your enemies or to destroy crystals and other obstacles in your path; to swap which item you are using, the left or right shoulder to cycle through the available options. Right face button lets you use one of the spells that you have learned. There are 14 different types of magic that you will acquire on your journey, so be sure to swap frequently to figure out which is your favourite to use in battle. Left trigger allows you to manually rewind time; this helps you save time during a battle when your Remnant is done with what it needs to do on its particular run, and you just want to start with the next one and not waste time waiting. The controls feel tight and responsive, and they work great for this strategy hack-and-slash title.
I found the story in Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior to be interesting and compelling, especially when family drama is introduced. You encounter your long-lost twin brother named Kehör; he had left you to become the Lysfanga who would protect the people when you were originally both set to share the role. It seems that he is not trying to protect the Mayura and warns you that you should leave the area as it is too dangerous. Before disappearing, he destroys the information bot named Grenno, with whom he was speaking. Who is Kehör working for, and how is he connected to these attacking demons?
Fortunately, Imë is able to repair the broken Grenno, who becomes a great ally to you on your quest. He is keeping a codex that records everything that you experience and all the encounters you have with the demons. Since he used to work at the magic academy, he has a wealth of information you can access to learn about the different characters that you meet and hear about. These will be updated with new information as you process to keep them up-to-date. The game doesn’t make you listen to lengthy explanations of everything; if you want to learn more about anything you discover, you can read the entry in the codex if you so desire. Your base camp is set up here at the academy, as it has magical barriers that keep it safe from the attacking Raxes. To further help you, he gives you a trinket that allows you to teleport around different locations in the city. Along with that, he is now also able to see through your eyes, so you can help lead you around all the areas you explore.
Grenno isn’t the only character helping you on your mission: Qhomera, the Time Goddess, will give you new power-ups whenever you visit one of the statues resurrected in memory of her. This will add new strong attacks to use against the powerful Guardians and Raxes that are trying to stop Imë as she tries to learn the truth about her twin brother’s motivation and more about herself. Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior rewards you for exploring the areas of the city, giving you new styles of armour to equip your character with that will only change its appearance, not change any stats, blue orbs that give you more lives to retry battles, and chests that contain Remnant Shards to create more clones to use in the battle arena.
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is such a challenging and unique title that it is incredibly addictive to play. Being able to take down enemies by teaming up with your own clones was something that I’d never experienced in a game before. I remember being able to see previous runs I had done in games like Super Meat Boy, but I’ve never had to figure out which version of myself was attacking to ensure that all the enemies in an area were destroyed before I ran out of Remnants to use. Props to the developers who worked on this game; this mechanic works so well and is incredibly satisfying when you figure out which task every clone needs to do to successfully win that fight. Will you become the Lysfanga, bringing the light to this world by effectively using your Remnants to win the battle against the demonic Raxes forces?
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior uses a unique gameplay mechanic that has you working with clones of yourself to take down the foes that stand in your way. A compelling story and addictive gameplay make this a must-play title!