Styx is finally back and doing what he does best in Styx: Shards Of Darkness; stealing and killing. It's been a long wait since he was the Master Of Shadows and brought his fun to the screen but Cyanide Studios didn't want the little guy falling into the darkness of obscurity and brought us yet another experience through the eyes of the thieving goblin. Hopefully learning from any mistakes and adding in just enough new items to make the game feel the same but enough to warrant the extra funds that Focus Home Interactive doled out for the game. None the less, here's our review on Styx: Shards Of Darkness and just how the game did in our eyes.
Things for the goblins haven't been going so well since Master Of Shadows, but that doesn't mean that Styx has been kept down. Sure, he enjoys being down in the dumps but he's good at what he does and many know this. This is why he is approached by a sworn enemy of his race to help out and infiltrate the Dark Elven city of Körangar to see what those dirty elves are up to with the dwarves. As well as to seek a bit of revenge for a shape-shifting elf that causes a few issues as well. That's a personal thing though. Seeing as Styx likes to get paid, he sets out on his own crime spree to see just what is going on and collect some sweet amber along the way.
Styx: Shards Of Darkness has made many improvements since the last title, more on that below, but one of the places I kept coming back to with issues was the platforming and climbing in the game. It is set up the same as in Master Of Shadows, but for some reason the target area for grapple points or climb points is very loose and hard to hit. I fell to my, or Styx's, death many times when aimed perfectly for the next rope or hand hold, but for some reason the game never registered it was there. Once or twice I could see it being on my side, but there were too many dead-on points where the character just could never grab on and keep climbing. At some points it actually limited my "play as you want" options as I could never climb up, even in areas where it was possible, so I had to pray to the gods I could sneak through the plethora of enemies on the ground.
Building off of that, I know that some of the new enemies in Styx: Shards Of Darkness have the ability to sense the character in different ways as their race and training allows for it. In general it was a great addition to the game and franchise, but it felt very inconsistent as to when they could detect. The elves were supposed to have keener senses than the humans, makes sense and I was caught many times because I thought and elf was a human, but there were a few times where I was in direct line of site and was never spotted. Or times when there was no way for the enemy to see me and I was spotted. It just seemed so random that it because hard to plan in a few missions where I had to go from trying to be a pacifist to a murder machine just to make it through.
I'll get into the mechanics of Styx: Shards Of Darkness in a moment, but I need to take time to applaud the writers and voice actor for Styx here. In Master Of Shadows he had his fun and humor mixed in but it seemed a bit of an afterthought. AT least when compared to how over the top Cyanide Studios went with him this time. In all honesty it was like playing a different form of Deadpool in the game. For those who are not fans of that, Styx manages to reel it in a bit more so it isn't too out there and just the right levels of crude and gallows humor to direct wit. Even though they are skippable, I found myself wanting to hear him repeat death text or another little tidbit in the game because it was just fun to have. Amazing job there and so very entertaining.
Characters and story aside, I'll have to also give much love to the level design of Styx: Shards Of Darkness. Even though the last title did offer up a few various paths to make each gameplay a custom experience, this one blows that out of the water. I was constantly finding new paths or entrances that I could use, or could have in some cases, to get things done. I never felt like there was one specific path I had to take; even when trying to do some of the mission achievements. Styx: Shards Of Darkness felt like it was a more open world and experience that let the player choose their success or demise and it is rare in games that offer this that it can actually be done. Finding new short cuts and ways to eliminate enemies is its own mini-game here and one that I love repeating over and over.
New here for Shards Of Darkness was a crafting system. This was yet another thing I was iffy on for the game given how before it was really about what you could find out in the game's world and that was it. That part is still here, but now we have the options as to what to make of it all at specific parts in the game. Sometimes it's its own little mission to figure out how to get to a crafting table in the field and not be detected while using it. I agree it seems like something like this should be as important to look at hear, but for Shards Of Darkness it is a bit of a game changer in the best of ways. Even finding the items to craft with was its own little thing and I am glad to see it in here how it was.
Last up here that I have to give love to is the modified skill tree that we have here in the game now. Styx: Shards Of Darkness has its level of RPG elements in it and we do gain "XP" for completely missions in certain ways. What I thought I was going to hate here is that the progression could be altered along the way in the game so you could lose skills you had before but gain new ones. Give how hard it is to get everything right the first time through on a mission, this make perfect sense and made Shards Of Darkness that extra level of enjoyable. If you need to craft a few things for your next mission but still really need your sense, you can shift things back and forth to get the gear and then back to the senses to complete the mission. Thankfully this is only available between missions or in very specific places in the level so it doesn't become too game-breaking and is more of a boon to it all.
When all is said and done for Styx: Shards Of Darkness, you can see that Cyanide Studios learned from the last game and instead of changing everything, they built and repaired. Yes, the platforming is still a bit wonky and the detection system isn't perfect as of yet, but with all of the other shining examples and parts of the game, one can forgive the others. If I had to suggest you to give Styx: Shards Of Darkness a purchase and play time, I'd have to say do so. It is stealth RPG title so take that into account before you run off as I know not every gamer enjoys those kinds of games, but if you do then you would be doing yourself a disservice to not give the game a try. If nothing more than for the fun humor of Styx the game is worth it.
I give Styx: Shards Of Darkness 13 Shards Of Raw Amber on the Shards Of Raw Amber scale.
Styx: Shards Of Darkness — Launch Trailer
Styx: Shards Of Darkness was developed by Cyanide Studios and published by Focus Home Interactive for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 14th, 2017. A digital PS4 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.