Thy Creature PC Review
Thy Creature is what happens when a developer decides to put a twist on the story of Frankenstein and turns it into a 2D adventure game with puzzle elements. Then decides to add a combat system that also continues the puzzle elements, but adds to the cocktail with some bullet-hell action, but bullet-hell action that involves the main character unable to fire back. It is a crazy concept that keeps the game more on the puzzle side rather than something of an action game or role-playing game, and one that will test the agility of the player as they make their way up the tower to recover lost memories for the “monster” and their companions.
The player takes control of someone called “Nameless Creature”, who has managed to escape from a mob of hunters by outrunning them and hiding inside a tower. They are after him due to his appearance, as he looks unlike anything else the village people have seen; a stitchwork of human body parts that give him this inhuman appearance. Seemingly safe, the Nameless Creature ventures into the tower and finds a note on the floor, an extract from “Victor’s Journal”, then suddenly a strange man in black, with yellow eyes and a monocle, appears and tells the nameless creature to “Come inside, to the place you took your first breath”, before collapsing and resurfacing in a room with three other strangers.
These three people become your companions, as they helped you survive, but are also locked within the tower and want to get out. Just like the Nameless Creature, who is on the quest to find out who or what he is and why he was created, these three have also lost memories and they want to get them back. Memories are a key element of the story of Thy Creature, but this is not amnesia, but memories stolen by the game’s enemies, called Nepes. Each defeated nepe drops a memory stone that belongs to one of the game’s characters. These show a scene of something that happened in their life, often something negative, apart from one specific floor that reverses this idea. The adventure takes the protagonist up the seven floors of the tower to reach his creator and find out the truth. As for the story, there are some interesting changes to the famous Frankenstein’s Monster. It goes to dark places while it focuses on what defines humans and why it is hard to replicate this, hint, it is to do with how important memories are and what we become when we lose them as the nepes, those evil critters, steal them!
Two distinct features make up the gameplay for Thy Creature. The first element is the exploration around the floors of the castle. Each floor is based on a theme and along with these themes are newly introduced puzzle element that requires solving to progress up to the next floor. For example, the first floor is based on a birthday party, as the boss for that floor wants every day to be her birthday and for her invitees to stay with her forever. This theme roles into the puzzles as these involve making sure the royal and nonroyal guests are in their correct seats. Solving these issues removes piles of stuffed toys that block entrances to new areas. This is the same design throughout the rest of the floors where whatever needs solving will then lead to unlocking a new area. Another one involves cutting pieces of thread with scissors to unlock routes but also finding threads to put on pedestals, which again unlock pathways through the castle. These are simple puzzles, just enough to get you active but never too challenging or frustrating, as these castle exploration parts are about finding out more of the story and running into the fights.
In addition to the main story are also optional side quests for each of the characters that follow the main hero throughout his adventure. These will ask the player to find a specific item within one of the floors, usually requiring finding a secret that gives an item to unlock doors, but they can simply just be in a room that you are passing by. Items are easily found within the 2D backgrounds, as they shine with a spark to alert that something can be interactive with. This stops from having to spam the interaction button looking for them, something that can happen in adventure games, more so of the point-and-click variety. These side quests are all optional and often do not add anything to the gameplay itself, more building on the characters and giving the player something to do away from the main story.
Battles are the other main gameplay element. These activate when a nepe touches the player model. These scenarios are not really battles, because it is more puzzle-solving and avoiding the dangers that the enemy imposes on the player. This is where the bullet-hell gameplay is situated, as the enemy will fire objects at the player, each hit reducing the health bar a little. There is a couple of instant death moves with large red orbs that I did not particularly like, but thankfully this is limited to one floor and is not a mechanic that stays for long. As with anything bullet-hell, it can seem unfair having to dodge so much, but then on top of that you need to solve the puzzle in the area, usually linked to how the puzzles are solved on the same castle floor. Again, using the first floor as an example and its party theme, teddies need to move into their correct seats to spawn memory fragments, which is how the player deals damage back to the enemy as each gem will reduce its health a little until finally killing them. They are usually more fragments than is necessary, which is a blessing as some of them are easier to get to than others during the onslaught coming in the player’s direction as they try to navigate around the battlefield maze to get to the fragments. On floor five, this changes into moving the paintings into the correct holders so that they reveal paths on the ground to be able to reach the floating gems. It genuinely makes for some tense moments, as all the character can do is avoid the bullets or use stamina to sprint to avoid the mass rain of danger. In regards to avoiding all this madness, I did find it hard to figure out exactly the size of the hitbox for the character, as some of the bullets felt like they should have hit me, but did not. If it was clearer exactly where I could position the character to avoid hits, I do think I would not have died as many times. Maybe having an outline or somewhere to flash up the hitbox would help mitigate this issue.
Items are available as unlocks during the game that can modifier the character. There are items that shrink the character sprite to make it easier to avoid damage, items to offer more health or stamina or items that will increase the character sprite but offer more health. These are neat ways to alter the battles, as this helps the player try to cover up any weaknesses they. I will not sugar coat this, Thy Creature is a challenge, as some of the fights will test your patience. I remember being stuck on one boss fight for nearly an hour as I kept trying to work out their patterns, occasionally trying to rush through, which only did worse than good. As with any game like this, there are occasions where it feels it upped the temper, as some fights are way harder than others that come after it, and since there are no mid-fight save points when boss fights move to their second stage, it can be daunting to do all the hard work and then lose it simply because you did not know what to expect in the second sequence of events. Apart from those issues, the battles do feel beatable, but it will come down to how well the player can adapt and wait out the barrage of incoming death between each fragment collection.
Visually the game is on the right track with its presentation. The visuals are all 2D with a very heavy inked style, done in this unique gothic look, but with a charming cuteness. It somehow works within the scale of this game. Especially for the enemies, where the artists truly let their darkness express itself through some amazing aesthetically drawn bosses that support the horror themes. That said, the game has some hiccups with its presentation. The biggest thing is that I lost 15 minutes of progress due to a bug when I walked into a room and none of my inputs registered. It lost all movement control both through my controller and keyboard. Bizarrely the menus worked, so something must of broke. The only way to stop this was to restart the game, as even loading my save did not fix the problem. Another is less impactful, but reduces the overall quality, as certain text boxes sometimes appear partly offscreen, meaning some text cannot be read. I am not sure if this is due to the resolution, because I run a 4K monitor, but the game only has resolutions for 1080p and 1440p unless you put it in fullscreen mode, where it seems to ignore these and runs at the desktop resolution.
Thy Creature is a game that wonderfully displays its horror with great artwork, and it shows that the developers had fun crafting their vision of the traditional Frankenstein story. While the puzzles are simple when outside of battle, moving them into the framework of a bullet-hell and having the player need to resolve these while avoiding waves of horrors is a fascinating blend that somehow works. It sure is a challenge, but one that always ends in a satisfying feeling. It might be easy to beat for veteran bullet-hell players, but for the average gamer, this game will offer an unsettling challenge that will test you over its 10-hour adventure. It will frustrate, it will amaze, but overall, it sits as a good game with a unique blend of two genres that it somehow makes work together.