I’ll be honest: I can never remember half of the games that appear on a live stream like Summer Game Fest.
Whenever I look back at a list of everything announced during a big video game reveal showcase, I usually find that I have no memory of at least a few games, despite the fact that I definitely saw them. That was exactly the case with Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior. The indie action game was announced near the end of Summer Game Fest’s two-hour broadcast, and by that point, my brain was at capacity. I simply couldn’t remember yet another game at that point.
After actually getting to play Lysfanga at a press event following Summer Game Fest, I certainly won’t forget it again. The time-shifting action game is an ingenious indie that turns basic hack-and-slash combat into a strategic puzzle game. It’s an incredibly clever, satisfying idea that you’ll want to keep on your radar.
At first glance, Lysfanga seems relatively basic. it’s a top-down, linear action game where players cut through arenas full of enemies. Combat is basic enough with two attack buttons that send the main character hacking through enemies. I have a magic spell that can blast enemies from afar and a “super” ability that can take out a pack of enemies quickly. It’s all standard for the genre.
That’s where the twist comes in. When I enter an arena, I actually only have around 15 seconds to cut through as many of them as I can. When that timer runs out, time runs back and I start back from the beginning of the room as a copy of myself (called a Remnant). Everything I did in those first 15 seconds happens as I control my second character, as a ghost version of my first run plays out in real time. The goal here is to clear every enemy in a room in one go using as many remnants as I need to wipe them out in one room. I’m working together with every past version of myself.
So on one run, I might focus on the left side of an arena and take out every enemy there. On my second, I move to the right and take care of that side. On my final run, I’ll see my first two Remnants taking care of those enemies on the side as I clean up the ones in the middle. It’s one of those video game magic tricks that’s a delight to see unfold every time.
That system gets even more complex too. At one point, I’m introduced to two enemies linked together with a strand. I need to make sure they’re both killed at the same time during a run, leaving me to carefully time my Remnant’s attacks so they line up with one another. Later, I have to take down a much bigger enemy who protects itself with a massive shield. To beat it, I use one Remnant to draw its attention for a few seconds. Then I rewind time and run around its back while it’s distracted by that previous clone.
While it’s primarily an action game, it almost becomes a strategic puzzler. At the start of every encounter, I have the ability to pan the camera around the room so I can see where every enemy is. That lets me pre-plan a series of routes that I can send Remnants on to take everything down with efficiency. When it all clicks, it feels less like slashing through enemies and more like solving a puzzle. It’s a more cerebral hack-and-slash that feels especially tailored to my interests.
I’m incredibly curious to see what else Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior has to offer. The demo I played didn’t include any of its story elements, so I have no idea what to expect from its narrative side. I also hope it can keep finding ways to escalate its puzzle-like complexity, as that’s really what’s drawing me in currently. Regardless, I’m already totally hooked. It’s the kind of video game hook that’s so clever, I just want to watch players’ reactions when they first try it for themselves.
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior is scheduled to launch this year on PC.
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