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Styx: Shards of Darkness

Mr. Gerbik

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In case you missed it, I was very enthusiastic about Styx: Master of Shadows last year because it was 'a stealth game actually about stealth'. Nowadays most games which get billed as 'stealth games' in fact only use a simplified implementation of stealth as a minor part of the overall gameplay experience. Allow me to quote myself:


[Most modern games] use the idea of stealth to complement the fighting, the set-pieces, the platforming and etcetera, but none offer the same focus on stealth as the actual stealth classics from way back when and therefore lack the fantastic nail-biting tension these games offered. Sure, traditional stealth games are not for everybody as they require patience and a methodical approach, but the beautiful contrast of being horrendously overpowered while you remain undetected (you're basically one-hit killing everybody) and shockingly vulnerable once you are seen, is unique to the stealth genre and I love that. At any moment, with just one tiny mistake, you can instantly go from being an overpowered hunter, to an underpowered and insignificant prey.

In short, despite its low-budget looks and lack of polish, Styx: Master of Shadows is very much a stealth game like they used to make and it features a focus on verticality in the design of its environments, which reminded me of Tenchu in a good way. I always hoped that publisher Focus Home Interactive would let Cyanide take another shot at it and that's exactly what they have announced:



Styx sequel comes with more ambition, bigger budget, new engine, and more!

Following its positive reception from press and players, Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studios wanted to delve deeper into the world of Styx with more ambition! The centuries-old goblin assassin Styx returns in a new stealth game, Styx: Shards of Darkness, with a bigger budget, bigger ideas, and a new engine: Unreal 4. Revealed in the first official screenshot of the game, check out a nimble, more refined Styx, built from the ground-up. Master of Shadows was a valiant exploration into the world of the green goblin thief, but in Shards of Darkness, delve deeper into a more complex narrative and fully realized world.

Having been in development for 6 months, discover in this first screenshot the new Styx, putting his skills to good use within the heart of Körangar, one of the many extensive mission areas to explore and creep around in Styx: Shards of Darkness.

Following the fall of Akenash tower, an extraordinary matter has forced Styx out of hiding to infiltrate Körangar, the city of the Dark Elves. Supposedly impregnable, a diplomatic summit offers Styx a chance at slipping in unnoticed, as he learns that the event is nothing but a mere façade... Moreover, the Elves have joined forces with the Dwarves, and the only thing both races have in common is a mutual hatred of the Goblins...

Embark upon a stealthy adventure with new enemies, new environments, and a plethora of new mechanics aimed at refining the abilities and movement of Styx; grappling around corners, climbing ropes, and using his trusty knife as a zip-wire. Shards of Darkness aims to offer unparalleled freedom of movement, along with refined stealth and assassination mechanics, expanding and improving on the strengths of Styx: Master of Shadows - which is coincidentally the Midweek Madness deal on Steam, until Friday 16, with an exceptional 66% discount off the price! A great opportunity to discover the origins of Styx.

Styx: Shards of Darkness comes to PS4, Xbox One, and PC next year.


This is the one screenshot they have released so far:


Apart from Cyanide taking another stab at it, the good news is that they're getting a bigger budget to do so. The low-budget aspects were the main drawback of the original, so if they are able to retain the quality of the gameplay but offer it in a bigger, better, more polished package then I'm all for it. As long as the stealth remains 'pure' but going from the press release it sounds like we don't have anything to worry about.

So. Anybody else except me excited about the return of the Styx?

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I really need to try the first game again. I did the first couple of hours but it didn't grab me. But given I usually like this sort of thing and everyone goes on about how amazing it is I should try it again.

It doesn't really get going until you reach the hub for the first time and embark on your first proper mission. Everything before that is just an extended intro/tutorial

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Great news that it is getting a sequel.

I got Styx:MoS when it was "free" on PS+, I was always tempted to buy but hesitated because of reviews and the fact that me and stealth games don't always get on. Anyway I enjoyed the game so much that I even 100% it, sure it has its problems but the ability to save at anytime manages to avoid these problems being game breaking although load times can be irritating.

The final boss fight as Mr Do stated was pants which was a shame but it was only a small fraction of the game so I can forgive them for that. :)

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I absolutely cannot wait. I'd be even happier if they fix the load times on the console versions, as it's a game I'd enjoy playing on the couch, but if not I'll happily buy it on PC. You know, unless they cock it up somehow. But yes, a sequel with added polish would be delightful (much as I've been pleased with Blood Bowl 2, despite the slight team roster, thanks to the dramatic improvements to the UI and lack of glitches).

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  • 1 month later...

Making it in Unreal: exploring the science of shadow in Styx: Shards of Darkness

Really interesting article about the approach to stealth gameplay Cyanide is taking for the sequel. The good news is that the project manager is saying all the right things and it sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Like he knows why and how stealth is fun:

“That’s your only option,” insists project manager Guillaume Blanchard. “Stealth. It’s central to understand you have to be sneaky, because you’re relatively weak compared to the guards. That’s not to say you aren’t powerful in your own way, but it depends on how clever the player is. In many games, they have a sort of safety net we want to avoid.”

This fits perfectly with the way I described the appeal of the stealth genre in the first post of this thread (the beautiful contrast of being horrendously overpowered while you remain undetected and being shockingly vulnerable once you are seen - which also results in a deliciously stressful kind of nail biting tension that is unique to the best stealth games) and this is the key thing that Styx: Master of Shadows got completely right. Blanchard and Cyanide Studios obviously understand this.

The article also mentions that they've kept the same level designer (Julien 'Patch' Desourteaux) also as in the previous game and that they're doubling down on verticality. That is one of the things that made the first game so good, how the many possible routes were stacked on top of each other. Only this time they're using Unreal Engine 4, which not only makes the game look prettier and more detailed, it apparently 'hugely benefits' the pathfinding in those layered levels:

We’ve prototyped some really amazing things that just couldn’t be possible a few years ago,” says Blanchard. Cyanide had to “trick” the ageing Unreal 3 to make the best use of its binary lighting system. Unreal 4’s dynamic lighting might sound like a triviality, but it’s revolutionised Styx’s stealth system. The player now exists in a realm of gradient colour; never pitch black or total brightness.

“There’s a whole gamut in between that we can use to dynamically change enemy behaviour to Styx’s presence,” explains Blanchard.

What’s more, the studio now have the flexibility to show shadows from a distance without stabbing performance in the gut - all the better for players to plan their route

And a very important bit of info for any stealth game that wants to be considered any good compared to the classics of the genre:

“If you’re smart, you can kill your way through without being seen, or you can sneak through without killing anyone. There’s a really hefty personal reward in that. I think it’s key in Styx: you have to be clever.”

Nice to see this confirmed already :D

No new footage or screenshots, but the above information makes me way more excited about this Styx sequel than any technically impressive graphical showcase ever could.

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  • 2 months later...

New screenshots and I must admit it does look a lot nicer than the previous game - note the shadow and light effects in the first screen. Also, note the large environments:







Key points from the accompanying press release:


-enormous and semi-open environments

-emphasis on verticality

-a lot of freedom to complete/reach objectives in various ways

-more fully-realized world

-new moves: rope-swinging and zip-lining

-a nimbler and more refined Styx


Out on PC, XB1 and PS4 sometime in 2016 and I can't fucking wait!


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  • 3 months later...

Console version was decent, entirely playable... but also afflicted with massive loading times. Well worth getting the PC version to avoid that, particularly for when the game is at its most unforgiving...

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  • 3 months later...
On ‎09‎/‎06‎/‎2016 at 19:15, Radish said:

What was the first game like on consoles? I think I have a free version on both platforms but for some reason I'm still tempted to buy it on the PC. 

the first game? I thought it was a slide show on whichever console I got it free on. Probably ps4.


that and the insta-fails and massive load times, I didn't perserver.

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  • 5 months later...
19 minutes ago, amc said:

Even Mr. Gerbik has forgot about it :(

Not really though! I keep mentioning Styx: SoD in every thread and post about all the gaming goodnes coming our way in Q1 2017, and I bought it on Steam months ago - as soon as the product page with the option to pre-buy went up in fact.


Only thing I didn't do was post in this thread admittedly :P


At the moment I have some real life circumstances  (a two month old boy) leaving me with very little time for gaming. Still making my way through Yakuza 0 and then I have Styx, Zelda, Nier, and Nioh waiting for me. And Persona 5 real soon.

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