Back when Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was first introduced into our lives, it managed to do something I’d never seen before; for the first time in my life, I was more interested in playing as the villain horde than the hero. I wanted to see what it was like to be the orc or goblin grunt that is just trying to live in a world full of humans. I was curious, in the non-Tolkien setting of Styx: Shards of Darkness, how this dynamic between the races would play out. As it turns out, humans are still kinda the assholes here. Cyanide Studios has taken that concept of the working orc and given it a dishonorable living. If Assassin’s Creed and Shadow of Mordor had a baby it would probably be incest, but the end result would be this game.
Much like any other parkour-infused game made in the last ten years, the Styx series of games have a heavy emphasis on level traversal and movement. If you stay in one place for way too long, it is highly likely that you will end up dead. Unlike the Assassin’s Creed series, your best bet in this game is to always to high tail it in the other direction. Styx is a squishy soul and if you get surrounded by enemies than you will be dealt with. Rouges were never meant to take on foes up front.
Speaking of being a rouge, the thieving aspect of this game is the best part. Styx runs the best when you are sticking to the shadows, using abilities to keep yourself from being spotted, and placing traps to cover your trail. It almost functions like an RTS, with you taking every enemy on in the area into account. Levels in the beginning of the game adhere to this style of play by giving multiple things to climb, slide, and steal. However, if you try to play the game in any other fashion you will not get very far. Or at least not very far easily.
Styx, as a character, is very sarcastic and witty. Deaths in the game are made even more hurtful when the main character asks you if you have the controller in a place where the sun doesn’t shine. Or if you actually know where the jump button is. However, Styx as a game character doesn’t always come off as well. There are places in the game I was sure I could climb but couldn’t. And there were times when I seriously didn’t know how to get to the next landing. Random character glitches and frame rate drops plague this next gen title, making it feel like a late PS3 game at times. Levels lose there creative spark in later parts of the game and start to be repetitive and boring.
If I had to choose the biggest shortcoming for Styx: Shards of Darkness, it would have to be the story. It didn’t keep me engaged like I hoped it would. Characters are kinda bland and forgettable. Assassin’s Creed isn’t a perfect game but the characters are what get me though the experience. This game is the equivalent of Guardians of the Galaxy, if all we had was Drax. He is hilarious, but without the other characters to bounce off of, he comes off as an asshole.
At the beginning of the PS4/XB1 life cycle I would have totally recommended this as a must play game. That being said, with games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild merely existing, I think that Styx: Shards of Darkness could have used a little more polish before being put of shelves. Unless, like Styx, you can get it for a steal, there are better steal adventures worthy of your hard earned cash.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Dagger Missed Its Mark
Visuals - 6/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Controls - 6/10
Most of my problems with Styx is that fact that it doesn't feel like a game that should be coming out in 2017. Its not that games fault that the standards happened to have risen upon its release, however I really believe that some more polish work would have done wonders. The game just falls flat toward the end.