The first time I played Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior was at Summer Game Fest, and in my short time during that demo, I fell in love. The game was quick-paced and to the point, immediately catching my attention. Now, a while later, I have the full version of Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior, and though I still love the unique style and puzzle-like combat, I have some thoughts.
It is important to note that Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior was originally a school project that was then picked up by Quantic Dream. This is Sand Door Studio’s first game, and it’s definitely a unique take on the hack’ n’ slash genre.
An Ancient Story
Your character’s name is Imë, and you are the “bringer of light,” which is called the Lysfanga. You have been brought to this world to defeat an ancient evil they fear has awoken. The Goddess of Time oversees your journey, gifting you with special weapons and power. You come across friends and foes along the way—I won’t spoil the story for you.
Personally, though, the story in Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior didn’t feel as compelling as it sounds. Mind you; I am more action-oriented while gaming and the story sometimes takes a back seat for me. It felt like a means to an end, to bring you from level to level with more complicated puzzles each time. I will say that some of the companions you meet along the way are entertaining enough, but I just wasn’t invested.
The Gameplay Loop
What is unique about Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is how combat takes place. Every battle is a puzzle of sorts, where you need to figure out how to take down all the enemies in one space. To do this, you use Remnants, which are copies of yourself. You go into battle for a limited time and take out the enemies—called Raxes—that you can. Time then resets, and a new version of yourself appears and fights alongside you.
Your first Remnant will follow the exact same fight path you did, so you can use your next Remnant to take a different path. Enemies that have been defeated have a skull over their heads, so you know that another version of yourself has already dealt with them. You also earn more Remnants as the game progresses, so you have a lot to juggle all at once.
The Raxes are both adorable and creepy, and there are plenty of varieties to go to war with. As you progress through Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior, enemies ramp up not only in difficulty but in number, too. There are normal Raxes that you can just run in and kill, but then you run into bad guys like the Twin, who start to bring real mechanics into play.
The Twins are two enemies tied by what looks like a rope of lightning. These two need to be killed at the same time, or they will come back to life. Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior forces you to take the lay of the land before you head into battle so that you can prepare for mechanics like these. Two different Remnants need to be in sync with the Twins to take them out together.
Other enemies take similar thoughts, like the Guardians. These are giant shielded enemies that will face you wherever you run. You have to take one Remnant and distract him from the front while another runs behind to take him out. Later in the game, you gain Runes, Spells, and Powers that can help here, too. Some enemies shoot in a line and explode on impact. You can use them to take out other Raxes, and later in the game, it’s actually required.
There are also non-enemy mechanics at play, too, like doors you need to unlock so another Remnant can pass, lines that create walls when you cross them, and all kinds of AOE damage you need to try and dodge, all while keeping track of your enemies, who is next on the list, and where your Remnants are.
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is not a game you can just run into and hack n’ slash like I originally thought. As you get deeper into the game, these battles require real planning and strategizing. Without it, You don’t stand a chance.
Weapons, Runes, Spells, and the Power of the Goddess
Luckily, to help you on your journey, you have the Power of the Goddess, Qhomera, on your side. She blesses you with her light, which is why you can create Remnants in the first place. But she does more than that. Eventually, she will grant you four “ultimates” of sorts, called the Power of the Goddess. These are Paroxysm, Glaring Light, Diving Blades, and Time Lock. These are powerful spells you need to build up before you can use them.
There are also three different types of weapons: the Shamshir & Shield, Chakrams, and the Trident. I personally preferred the Chakrams, as you could throw them, and they made movement a lot more fluid. There are also 10 Runes, which are more passive. Some of these will allow you to take an extra hit, give you an extra Remnant, create burst damage, and more.
Additionally, you are granted spells to help you along the way. You can only select one before you go into a fight, and you’re locked to it until you’re out of combat. There are 14 spells in total. These can cause AOE damage, create beacons you can travel to, change your starting point for the next loop, stun Raxes, and more. All of these play into how you strategize before heading into battle.
All in all, Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is an interesting game with a few caveats. For instance, I really, really want a map. I had a hard time grounding myself and figuring out where I’d been, where I needed to go, and how to get there. Clearly, I have no sense of direction, so I feel like this would have been a lifesaver. I also found it wasn’t a game that I wanted to play for hours at a time. The constant loop and similar surroundings made for repetitive gameplay that I preferred a lot more in small doses, especially during the later fights where I was beating my head against the wall trying to come up with a decent game plan.
The game has some great replay value, as you not only have so many Spells and Runes to unlock, but there are collectibles to keep you going, too. Motes of Magic, Skin Chests, Documents, and Remnant Shard are all over the map. There is also a portal that lets you re-do each battle, aiming to beat your own high score or the fight’s recommended time.
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is a ton of fun if you’re looking for a shorter romp that blends combat, strategy, and a dash of puzzles to create a three-act loop of chaos. This game will feel oh so simple when you get started, and you will quickly be put in your place as more mechanics come into play.