It’s been far too long since the good old days of stealth games. Thief: The Dark Project stole the show back in 1998 and many others quickly, and oftentimes effectively, tried to copy its formula. Styx: Shards of Darkness is a game that tries to reintroduce players to a tried and true formula, but not without setting off a few alarms in the process.
The player is quickly and somewhat jarringly thrown into a world that is build around, and in higher difficulty levels required to be, complete stealth gameplay. This is definitely where the game shines, in that nothing I did in which I was caught felt like I shouldn’t have been, however, sometimes the AI would hilariously miss me killing a target right in front of their faces, or just let me mosey on past them without a word being uttered. Fun challenges, like finishing a level in a set timeframe, getting as few kills as possible, and not alerting any guards makes this game fun all on it’s own, and the level design is intuitive, smart and more than generous to the average player of these types of games to accomplish all of these, and collect all the hidden collectables relatively easily on lower difficulties.
The game controls very well, albeit it did take longer than usual for me to memorize which button pulled up my inventory and I found myself jumping off of ledges more often than getting myself to hand from them. The only complaint I had from a pure gameplay perspective with the rope swinging. I had an extremely hard time getting Styx to swing from a rope to a nearby ledge if the level didn’t specifically want me to go there, and even at that, that game still had a hard time figuring out which direction I was trying to go.
Where Styx missteps is a seemingly reused level design later on in the title and less than stellar performance, both the AI and technically. Don’t get me wrong, Styx is a generally good looking game, but the constant texture pop-ins (and outs) as well as the completely unsynced voice dubbing paired with wonky cutscenes where the characters just stop moving at all was extremely disappointing as the game is written really well, and really funny. The little one liners Styx delivers are always funny and are delivered exactly when they’re necessary. I found one as a set my controller down to write a note down for this review and found myself laughing at Styx’s discontent with being in a wardrobe for too long.
VERDICT: Styx is a fun, 15-20 hour stealth game that is worth playing if you’re in desperate need to scratch that stealthy itch, but if you’re still icing the burn that was the 2014 reboot of Thief, then I’m afraid that you’ll be left with the same feeling of disappointment here.
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