When we reviewed Styx: Master of Shadows around 3 years ago we gave it a 55/100 score. It was an OK game which fell prey to good ideas, marred by poor execution. Well, the sequel Styx: Shards of Darkness offers an overall improvement on everything even though it’s just by a tad.
You still play as Styx, the small green foulmouthed goblin which is quite an interesting character. His abilities are still mostly the same with some small new nuances thrown into the mix. You still use amber to power up your magical powers and if enemies spot you 9/10 times, you’ll end up dead. You can customize your gear, which offer up some room for experimentation, but in the end it doesn’t make any much difference.
Styx is still as swift and well, clunky as he was before. If you are good enough, you can just sneak your way to the end of the mission taking out your target or you can go all “berserk” and kill everyone. Now when I say berserk, I don’t mean take out your dagger, rush and slash everyone down since you’ll die immediately, but I mean sneak around and stealth-kill everybody. Or you can throw one-hit-kill knives at them, puke on their food and water and watch them die painfully. So you have some choices on how you can tackle your encounters, but do not expect the crazy level of opportunities like you had in the newest Hitman or the large assortment of gadgets and way to take down the enemies in the Arkham games.
Yeah, Styx: Shards of Darkness came at a time when I was playing Hitman and Batman: Arkham Knight for the first time ( I know, that’s like 2 years too late) and jumping from one game to the other and then back at Styx, it may have taken a toll on my appreciation towards the later. I know Cyanide Studios has only a fraction of the budget of the two previously mentioned game at their disposal to make Styx: Shards of Darkness, but still, this game doesn’t really feel like a proper sequel and doesn’t really offer anything new in story, gameplay and presentation.
However, this doesn’t mean I hated it or anything like that. They did improve it in some parts. The levels are bigger, more varied, and with way more verticality than what we say in the first game. They also added some new enemy types like the “sniffers” you can spot you even when you are hidden and the heavy armored ones, which can be quite tricky to kill. Enemy AI was also quite good and challenging at times, even though somehow uneven and punishing in some cases. They would spot me when they shouldn’t have and did not see me when I was at their side. I also encountered some weird and silly bugs like them running round in circles and getting stuck through the geometry, but nothing game breaking.
But they’ve also added the rope mechanic which is the most broken thing in the game. I failed the tutorial level 5 times, the f*cking tutorial since I couldn’t rope jump to some stupid platform and fell down to my death. Well, I guess the 4th wall breaking death joke messages, much like the ones in the Arkham games, made the whole ordeal a little bit less annoying. What can I do, I do love some boner jokes!
As for the story to be totally honest, I couldn’t care less. I didn’t care for the first game story and I continued the trend for the sequel. The awful facial and mouth animations made the cutscenes totally weird and unbearable. However, the world looked cool and at times quite stunning all thanks to the lighting effects. Styx’s animations were also well done, apart from the awkward rope animation, but the rest was great.
I mean, there is enjoyment to be had while playing Styx: Shards of Darkness. The stealth elements are interesting even though might be limited compared to similar stealthy games you might have recently pleased. Sneaking around and killing everyone without raising a single alarm is quite satisfying and challenging in the later level. Story, I don’t know, you might love it, you might hate it or you can totally skip it and not miss a thing. Yeah, mechanically it can be very clumsy and clunky at times, but you’ll get quickly accustomed to it. The only thing you need to consider is it’s asking price and if it is worth it to you. Thanks for reading.