Published on March 26th, 2017 | by Chris O'Connor
Styx: Shards of Darkness PC Review
Summary: What's worse than dying in a game... dying and being heckled for doing so.
Styx: Shards of Darkness is the third game in the “Of Orcs and Men” series. To cut to the chase it’s probably easiest to think of it as Thief with a Goblin… though that is simplifying it somewhat. Whilst Thief was primarily interested in having you steal valuable items left right and centre, Styx is interested in stealing one primary item as an end goal… but between the start and then you are open to stealing items to use in crafting, deception and mayhem… there’s also a good chance you may be more inclined to dispatch your enemies rather than trying to sneak past them though either option is open.
The basic story line is that Goblins are generally hated by the other races of the world and as such are hunted and dispatched of where ever possible. Styx stands above the rest though as he can talk (the ability will be a point of amazement a few times throughout the game). Not only that but he works as a thief and as such does have some contact with non Goblins. In the pursuit of his “job” he comes across a group that is normally tasked with destroying his kind, the Goblin hunters known as C.A.R.N.A.G.E., their leader hires Styx to uncover a scepter… but sure enough that leads to a discovery that continues this unlikely alliance and will unravel a rather large plot involving some dark Elves.
Styx doesn’t rush into his quests empty handed… he always has his trusty blade and is never far away from some other tools of the trade. Collecting items from around the world gives you the materials to put together potions and other mission handy items when you come across a crafting table. Stocking up on Amber enables Styx to essentially vomit a double that can then be controlled to go out and explore without risking Styx himself (the double can’t stab but can push people off ledges which can be quite satisfying). As you progress in the game you will also unlock skill points that can be spent to increase Styx’s abilities and hopefully make your job a little bit easier… but choose wisely or it might seem like you haven’t helped your cause at all.
As you make your way through the world, Styx will basically talk to you about what’s going on… not all the time, more at set times/locations. He knows he’s not in this alone… he understands you are controlling him… hell he even mentions it if you die, musing things such as “You died… no I died, meanwhile you’re probably going to go and get laid… wait, come closer…. hmmm, maybe not” (I’m paraphrasing). There are no illusions here as to what’s going on and Styx will tell you with as much colourful language as he likes what he thinks of you. On that note, generally the visuals are quite lovely but the lip syncing in cut scenes does leave a lot to be desired… it’s not a big issue and really I’m nitpicking but it did cause me concern when the game first started… after that it really doesn’t play into things much and the rest of the game is so well put together that it quickly is forgotten.
If you like your stealth games with a lot of sass and the ability to be less stealthy and more stabby stabby… this should be right up your alley. You can set booby traps, distract enemies with either your clone or glass jars or even just bypass them altogether. The death scene taunts can get a bit tiring (when you die frequently… especially if it’s from a fiddly jump) but overall there’s a lot of charm on offer her and an interesting story. Worth a look and a bit of fun.