I'm a big fan of the stealth genre in video games such as Metal Gear, Hitman, Stealth Inc, and my personal favorite Splinter Cell. With the latest stealth title to cross my desk, Styx: Shards of Darkness, I went in with high hopes. And while it is a solid stealth game, its other mechanics are what turned me off from the game. Despite its flaws, however, Styx is a fun experience.
The premise behind Styx: Shards of Darkness is that the Dark Elves have formed an alliance with the dwarves. And it’s up to Styx to infiltrate the Dark Elves city and find out why. Styx himself is a foul-mouthed, grumpy, green goblin who prides himself on being a master of shadow and an expert thief. Styx can interact with the world in a variety of ways to hide and he also has his own unique abilities.
Styx: Shards of Darkness is a stealth game, so of course Styx has a plethora of ways to get around without being seen. Styx can pick up sand lying around to snuff out lanterns from a distance without alerting people to his location. He can hang from ledges and hug corners to avoid guards. He can also swing on and climb ropes to gain verticality or traverse the map. Styx’s unique skill set allows him to briefly become invisible and he can even create clones to distract and kill enemies. Lastly, the most heinous thing Styx can do is poison an enemy’s food and drink by throwing up into them.
Styx can handle enemies face-to-face if the need should arise, and of course, he can hide if danger presents itself. When within striking distance, Styx can kill an enemy with a simple press of a face button and should you hold it down Styx will execute a muffled kill. Styx can interact with objects in the environment as well, such as barrels, and hide within them. Objects can also be used to hide bodies from prying eyes. If you have the necessary crafting items, you can dissolve bodies with acid leaving no trace.
"Shards of Darkness" follows the three most important elements of stealth: noise, visibility, and line of sight. Depending on your level of difficulty, guards can spot you from further away, but more importantly, they have a greater sense of hearing. The slower you move the less noise you make and even less so if you’re crouched. Guards have icons around their heads that denote their level of awareness depending on the amount of noise you’re generating. It’s easy to manipulate them if you’re able to map out the area in a wise way, but it is also easy to lose track of enemies at times.
I like "Styx: Shards of Darkness" as a game, I enjoy its mechanics as well. But, outside of that, I can’t get into the game. Styx is extremely mouthy and is always finding a reason to talk and point out the obvious. I can’t put all the blame on him though as the NPC’s is the same way. They speak out loud and practically tell you where they’re going sometimes. Yet beyond all of that, when Styx dies he breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly into the camera and giving you a “pep talk”. It completely breaks the immersion and ruined the experience for me. But to be fair I don’t like it when Deadpool does it either.
I enjoyed Styx: Shards of Darkness at face value but not much beyond that. Styx himself just grates on my nerves and some of the mechanics are wonky. I’m not going to hold my disdain for the fourth wall breaking against the integrity of a decent game though. I hereby give Styx: Shards of Darkness 3.5 TOV Stars out of 5.