Thoth is a twin-stick shooter by Jeppe Carlsen, who was a designer for Playdead, so there’s a nice work history behind this game. Thoth sort of takes a minimalist approach to the base twin-stick experience, with a simple presentation and lack of scoring, but it allows room for some interesting ideas.
There isn’t any story in Thoth, nor a themed aesthetic beyond simple colored geometry. The game and its achievements are named after Egyptian deities, but there doesn’t seem to be a reason for it. It’s just kinda there. Just 64 main levels divided into sets of 4, no narrative whatsoever.
Thoth doesn’t need any of that, though, as its main strengths lie in its mechanics. One of the main mechanics of Thoth is that when an enemy is dead, it isn’t truly dead. You shoot the color out of a shape in normal twin-stick style to defeat it, but the shape remains behind as a moving void. The “undead” shapes will continue chasing you until all of the shapes embrace the void via bullet.
Then, more rules are introduced throughout the level sets. There’s a simple line of dots representing a gate that kills you if you collide with it, simple enough. Then, the gate’s later reintroduced, but the gate can now be opened and closed, alternating every time you defeat an enemy; consequently, you’ll now how to think about the best time to shoot out an enemy so you have space to avoid its defeated companions. Thoth sort of feels like a puzzle game in a sense where you have to figure out the new rules, with the game’s difficulty coming not from overwhelming enemies or bullet hell patterns, but trying to work around new mechanics.
There’s a local co-op mode, though I can’t properly play that. While you get double the firepower, if one player is defeated, they also turn into a voided chaser that’s pretty unrelenting. However, even if you don’t have a pal to play it with, the game’s achievements actually encourage you to play it anyway – in which case, you’re forever stuck with an extra chaser.
The art of the game is pretty simple, with everything pretty much being flat colored shapes. I think this minimalist approach works well. There’s no clutter on the screen and the palette that enemies get stuck with usually contrast with the background, so it’s hard to miss the action. The electronic ambient music is nice and fitting with the aesthetics, though I wouldn’t say that it’s memorable.
I think my only real problem with the game is the checkpoint system. When you die, you’re sent back to the beginning of the four-level set, no matter where you died. Having to go through the same levels over after dying just felt kinda tedious and wasn’t very fun toward the latter half of the main game.
Thoth is pretty interesting for a twin-stick shooter game. While it lacks a score system that encourages replays, I think it’s still worth playing for its nice take on the genre. Outside of sales the game is $8, though it does seem to go on sale frequently enough.
Actually it’s Steam Sale time, so it’s currently $1.99. Money saving!