Demo Land Ramblings: Styx Shards of Darkness

To infinity and beyond… This is my first pick from the available demo titles on the XBOX store. The sequel to Styx: Master of Darkness, was released worldwide on the 14th of March 2017. No “rAgrets”! Let’s be honest, the cinematic that welcomed me wasn’t all that impressive from a visual point of view. Some parts made me think they built the images on Minecraft. Copy, paste and bam. There is your block cup sir. Luckily, the humour made up for every block showed!

I have never played this game, nor the first, and whilst playing I thought the plot to be a little goblin stealing from humans, trying to escape prison. Sounds fun, right? If you have played this game, you would know that this is not even remotely close to the actual plot. Styx must infiltrate the Dark Elven city of Korangar to uncover why, other than their mutual hate for goblins, the dark elves have formed an alliance with the dwarves. You can however steal stuff so maybe I was a little close? No? Okay… moving on.

Let’s take a peep through the keyhole, shall we.

The game menu screen already lets you know what to expect from the game protagonist. With the focus on Styx, you get to experience normal goblin behavior… Where there is an itch, a scratch must follow. Be sure to take a minute and just appreciate what Cyanide accomplished here with their minimal approach. When ready to take on your mission of uncovering the truth behind the alliance between the dark elves and dwarves, you are given a choice between four difficulty settings:

  • Discovery: Undeniably the one to choose if you want to “feel” like a pro. Become almost ghost-like and wipe the floor with the blood of your enemies.
  • Initiated: A good place to start for some fun and a slight taste of what the challenge could be once you try your hand at the more difficult settings.
  • Goblin: I’m still deciding whether the goblin turns into a weakling or the enemy becomes super villains. The only thing clear in this mode is the fact that once you get spotted and try your hand at combat, you will die. Nope, combat is not an option here. Run, run as fast as you can!
  • Master: Short and simple? Goblin mode without manual game saves. If you die, you will only be able to play from the last auto save performed in game. Best you learn to become one with the shadows before trying this one out.

Let the games begin…

The camera angle view is incredible! I feel like they definitely found the sweet spot of placing the protagonist. Default control sensitivity just right. I had no itch to go play around with the stick sensitivity. Motion of the character? Almost as smooth as Michael Jackson’s moves. This, after the initial complaints of clunky movement in the first Styx: Master of Shadows, is proof that Cyanide took their audience to heart, revamped the feel and gave their players what they asked for. My absolute best? Left D-pad saves your game for you. How is this not a standard for all games!? Cyanide did a whole heap right and they need a pat on the back for that. Or maybe we should just build them a Well-Done trophy in Minecraft?

The game play is said to be similar to the first release; Master of Shadows. So basically, find a way to sneak around the enemy rather than storm in and attack. Find chests, barrels and cupboards to hide in. If Styx can fit, he can sit. This is not a “bash buttons until the enemy is dead” game people. The aim is stealth. Stick to the shadows, peep through keyholes before you open doors, peek around corners before making a move. Sneak up buildings, use ropes to slide to the next. Crawl through holes and ultimately, if you must, attack the enemy. The muffled kill should be your default. You’d agree because this is a stealth game. For myself, its just more entertaining.

Also keep in mind that this is a live environment. This is both a blessing and a curse. Use it to your advantage by distracting enemies, or run for your life because you knocked a cup over. Need some help to get out of sticky situations? No problem, just vomit up a clone and take control of it. Wait, what? Styx stores mindless clones inside of him? Gains access to them by vomiting? Get your tissues/paper towels ready because it’s true and it’s amazing.

Collect all sorts of items like iron ore, various spores, insect eggs, amber, acid etc. for crafting. A pet peeve of mine is searching for a craft table to craft items, so the fact they allowed for portable equipment to craft anywhere (as Styx become more specialised) is a huge bonus. Some of the items you will be able to craft include mines, lock picks and potions that make you smell pretty. Yes, you will be able to mask your stench and paired with the invisibility, allows for some awesome mischievous moments! Unable to find items? Activate your amber-vision to highlight items you can steal or collect.

A flaw I must mention is the combat system, or rather the lack thereof. Best you make sure you do not get detected or you will suffer a quick frustrating death. Listen up Cyanide, we understand that this is supposed to be a stealth game, but seriously? At least give the little goblin a chance! However, they did manage to make dying fun. When you die, Styx will pop up with something clever to say, and some of it is brilliant! Don’t worry though, there is a skip button for the people grinding to get to the end.

I would compare the game play to Assassins Creed Chronicles series. Update 2.0. You know, when that 2D game finally releases in 3D… You have your odd little wooden buildings, your guards keeping a look out, jumping, sliding, hiding, rope climbing… and the list goes on.

A humorous, underrated gem this is. Sadly, the demo only gives us the first level for free. Would I buy the full game? Thanks to our thieving, foul mouthed little goblin Styx, I now own both this title and Styx: Master of Darkness.

Have you tried this game out yet? Will you be trying it out?

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your view on this beauty!

Keep it real, live the dream
– Cod3bend3r

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