Styx: Shards of Darkness - Playing As The Sarcastic Assassin Goblin In A Dark Fantasy World [Game Review]

in gaming •  last year

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If Tolkien would have made a stealth-game, it would probably had looked liked this.


The French gaming studio Cyanide has done an impressive job on making the taste of blood being constantly present during my play-trough, with polished characters, personality and the originality which we loved in the first game from our protagonist Styx. A small sarcastic goblin who lurks around in Dungeons & Dragons-inspired fantasy-environments and cut's the throats of unexpected guards, to be honest the guards are pretty stupid though. Just as in it's predecessor we get a mix of Thief, Splinter Cell and Assassins Creed that has it's moments of variation, challenge and a good pace, but can also sometimes feel repetitive and some what hollow.



Few games have the flow and technical performance that Styx: Shards of Darkness has.


Styx: Shards of Darkness is the third title in the series that started with the roleplaying game Of Orcs and Men and it's a fantasy title filled with characters and concepts that we recognize in everything from Tolkien, to the Dragons & Demons- universe. You will meet elf's, orc's, dragons, gnomes and dwarfs, just as expected. Once again we take the mantle of Styx, the unpleasant and agitated little goblin that posses the abilities of a super-assassin.

Styx has gained a lot of personality since the last time we saw him and it happens quite often that he turns to the camera and talks directly to me this time around. He knows that he is in a game, makes fun of the whole situation more than once in a quick-fire of one-liners. It gives some fun moments (like when he asks the elf-master if he can transform himself to a sandwhich) but also get a bit flat and forced at some points. Styx doesn't really have a humorous appearance but rather looks pretty dark and sinister, a bit lighter character design would probably have helped the overall comedy-aspect of the game.

Why so serious?


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"Order in a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, please! This is gonna take time."


But i shouldn't sound to negative now. It's fun with a studio that shows a character that doesn't take himself or the gaming world with any seriousness. After all, it's very funny when Styx leaps from the edge of a cliff holding a rope and yelling "To infinity and beeeyooond!" even though it sounds pretty corny.

The story takes us to the elven-city of Körangar where the environments shifts from dark taverns filled with guards and well-designed torches that cast shadows and a warm, yellow light against the rough wooden walls to lush, hostile forests. The Dark Elf's has joined an alliance with the dwarfs and somethings funny is up. Nobody knows why they have joined forces, so Styx goes to the town on his own to see what those pesky elf's are planning. The narrative is well executed and even if the story won't win any Oscars it's still interesting enough to keep us playing, especially for fantasy-fans who feel right at home with orc's and elf's.

The mechanics of an sarcastic goblin.


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The game-design is amazing, taking inspiration from Lord of the Rings, Hobbit and the Dungeons & Dragons games.


One of my favorite things about the Styx-games is the well-designed animations and the mix of an old, rich gaming world filled with inspiration from classical fantasy lore - and gaming mechanics that remind me of Thief and Splinter cell. There is a contrast to those games that feel interesting in Styx and even though i rather fight then go stealthy, there is more than enough motivation to keep sneaking instead, a example is the well done reward system that has kept me in the shadows all the way trough the game.

Styx is not a brute, he can't take that much damage. Or well, he does has the ability to leap down 10 meters, flip his trusty pocket-knife against the throat-vein of a guard and thus killing them, without taking any damage. You must plan and keep it stealthy because if you get seen the guards will surround you, and it's a notoriously difficult task to fight multiple enemies at once as Styx.


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Styx can't take a lot of damage, stealth is crucial for survival.


Just as in other stealth-games this is a simple way to create a incentive to me as a player to keep it stealthy, but it's not a very modern approach, or very dynamic. Instead it would have been nice to see some more focus on the dynamics by giving me more options on how to approach every situation. Last years Hitman-game is an awesome example of how i think a modern stealth game should be executed.

There is some depth to Styx: Shards of Darkness though, and this has a lot to do with the crafting-system that Cyanide Studio "borrowed" from Skyrim which let's the player improve their own abilities and craft a few items based upon what resources and abilities we have picked up during our journey. With everything from deadly weapons to magic and traps, Styx is one crafting-savvy goblin.


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The AI leaves something to be desired but still the difficulty is well-balanced enough.


Another new aspect to this game that differs from it's predecessor is that Styx can now clone himself to then use the clone to confuse his enemies. This gives a good amount of sick and funny moments where for example Styx fools a group of enemies to stand on a hatch with the help of his clone, to then from a safe distance flip open the hatch and send them to their doom.

Conluding


Styx: Shards of Darkness is a good stealth-game, filled with originality, not least in a time where many developers just play it safe instead of trying something new. I appreciate the ambition of Cyanide, and this sequel defiantly deserves it place as a must-buy for stealth-gamers.


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The diversity in environments is refreshing, with everything from airships to lush forests.


What i love most about the game is without a doubt the graphical, both in regards to the esthetic's and the technicals. You will get a mix of dark, damp caves to golden castles, airships and much much more. That the whole gaming world is drenched in beautiful effects and amazing lighting also helps the experience. My favorite is the animations that make Styx and Körangar feel alive in a way that few stealth-games does in my opinion. Just leaning back and watching as Styx sneaks, climbs, leaps and kills is a treat in of itself.

The level-design, both the visuals and structures are superb. Styx might sometimes be a bit hard to control, but for the most part the game mechanics are solid. The variation of enviroments and atmospheres is also welcomed, and while the dialogue and jokes sometimes feels a bit forced, Styx: Shards of Darkness is one entertaining and well-executed stealth fantasy-game.

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Sources

  1. www.styx-game.com/
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Nice and insightful post man, seems as though your writing and word play is at a level I can only dream of. I'm currently trying to write game reviews as well and it's a lot of fun don't you think. I just take a more direct approach to assessing certain things that I think are important. But this post was very well done. Resteemed for sure going to follow you too, really inspiring man. Seriously! And good luck on future posts.

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Hey man, i have not attended any writing classes or anything like that and English is my second language, so practice makes perfect with other words. With that said, i don't think i am at a level you can not achieve, my earlier work has sometimes been embarrassing to say the least but by just reading other peoples writing and starting to write on a daily basis i really started to feel a progression in how i express myself.

And thank you for the compliments, it was really fun to read your comment, it made me happy! :D

Go in peace dude, thanks for the resteem!

I really enjoyed Styx : Master of Shadows. But trying to play it stealth takes significantly more time. I am anticipating playing Shards of Darkness once I have a little more time in real life. (and I get away from steemit long enough to play)

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Hehe yea it's hard to keep away from steemit =) Thanks for reading!

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