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Styx: Shards of Darkness review

It’s not often that I’ll out-and-out go for a stealth game. Firstly, and probably most unbelievably for those that know me, I don’t seem to have the patience. Secondly, I love a good digital punch-up. It’s a surprising thing to learn then, that I really enjoyed the first iteration of the Styx series, Master of Shadows. There was a good combination of stealth and action, with some humour and a little bit of sneaking around. It was an Assassin’s Creed for the fantasy lovers, only without so much of the gratuitous violence. How would Styx: Shards of Darkness measure up firstly as a sequel, and secondly, as a step on from the first title?

Styx: Shards of Darkness takes up where Master of Shadows left off. The titular green-skinned hero is living in Korrangar, the city of the Dark Elves, scrabbling a living by taking contracts for petty thefts from human criminals. The game reintroduces you to the mechanics of moving Styx around for this initial mission. You’ll learn the basics of hiding as well as climbing, jumping, rope-slides, and the abilities you’ll use that are granted by the goblin’s addiction to Amber. Amber gives you specific powers, such as Amber Vision, very much similar to Eagle Vision in Assassin’s Creed, or the uncanny and fairly gross ability to cough up a clone of Styx and control it.

After you’ve successfully completed this prologue mission, you should be equipped with pretty much all you need to blend into the background and silently move yourself around the city. This is great, as the very next mission you’ll be presented with needs you to sneak aboard one of the Ambassador’s sky-vessels. This will push your skills to the limit. You’ll need to utilise your Amber Vision, which highlights not only the useful pick-ups, platforms and ropes, but more importantly, enemies.

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Styx is massively strong, his acrobatic skills are testament to this, but when faced with human confrontation, the battle is by no means a foregone conclusion. Indeed, with the humans having formed C.A.R.N.A.G.E, a militia designed to stop the Green Plague, your plight and any mission you’re on is made harder by vigilant armed men, or dwarves, patrolling the areas you need to make your way to.

The arena you’re faced with aren’t flat, thankfully. A lot of thought and care has been taken in level design and if you’re patient enough, you’ll find there’s more than one route to the destination you’re after. You’ll find handy, quiet, thatched rooftops as well as attic beams to traverse. There are trunks and barrels to hide in at strategic points if required, or ledges to dangle off in an effort to stay undetected. These offer optional kill or mercy choices during your missions. My own stance on that is that it’s easier to complete your missions when there’s less aggressive enemies around but you’ll probably have your own play-style and that’s the beauty of Styx: Shards of Darkness. You can identify traps with your Amber Vision and set them accordingly, or use some particularly gross goblin vomit to poison food or water.

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Like Master of Shadows, there is a welcome return to Styx staples like a pocketful of sand. This still allows you to extinguish torches from distance, usually to draw enemies closer to finish them off. You also get breakable distractions like flasks or empty glasses. Equip and toss them liberally to get rid of the guards. There’s a whole host of other collectibles to pick up too, some almost as a side mission. You can tear down C.A.R.N.A.G.E recruitment posters or collect other items for rewards or to craft useful things, such as darts. The useful stuff can be crafted at various points around the area you’re in, or at your home, deep in the slums of Korrangar.

The city is dark. Too dark in some respects and as there is usually more than one path to your goal, the likelihood is that you’ll end up getting lost and spend a lot of time checking patrol patterns to find your optimum kill point. It can become tedious, as does the sheer amount of dying you’ll do. Yes, you’ll die a lot. This is tempered by the fact that, as opposed to Master of Shadows, you can run away from a fight and hide until the heat is off. Given Styx’s hit and miss ‘parry’ feature, this is probably the best way to go about it.

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One thing that the game lacks is a map. Too many times, I focused in on an unsuspecting C.A.R.N.A.G.E member, casually looking the other way, when another enemy wanders around the corner to discover and kill me. Amber Vision only goes so far, and cannot see through walls. You can use a nod to an RPG system to extend attributes for Styx, like extending Amber Vision, the time your clones get to spend roaming around and a few other things.

This isn’t to say that Styx is the perfect game. The later stages re-use earlier environments and with this comes the familiarity that this brings. There are some extra sections accessible here, but a few new areas would’ve been great. The locations that you do get are incredibly detailed though, if a little dark. As mentioned, each place you’re asked to explore is lushly drawn and they are a veritable rabbit warren of tunnels, rooms and rooftops. A beautiful killing field of multiple levels.

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The voice-acting is adequate, with your foes chatting away in the background, all except for Styx, who wise-cracks away like Bruce Willis in an action-movie. The environment produces noise, like when you accidentally knock a chair, highlighted in blue in Amber Vision. This in turn, alerts the guard, whatever form you’re facing them in, so stealth in it’s purest form is the name of the game. Pick your targets and dispatch them at the right time, but most importantly, do it quietly.

Control-wise, Styx responds well to most of your commands, with the only issue I had being the drop to ledge option. Its almost like it needs a specific set of conditions in order for it to work correctly. Other than that, Styx is very responsive and so are the guards. When it all boils down to it, there’s enough give in the gameplay overall to make these little niggles more than bearable.

Styx: Shards of Darkness is a stealth game above all else. The settings you need to creep around are beautifully crafted and conceived. Sights are not usually complete without sounds, and from water, to wind, to the occasional footstep of the imminently-doomed foes you’re about to encounter, Styx rounds the experience off nicely. The story is interesting enough to wrap all of this neatly into a stealth game that won’t hear you creeping up on it until it’s too late. Shards of Darkness is a worthy successor to critically acclaimed Master of Shadows. Go buy it.

Thanks to Cyanide Studios and Xbox for supporting TiX

Launch trailer aired for Styx: Shards of Darkness

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The time is nearly here. Cyanide Studios and Focus Home Interactive are on the final stretch before the release of Styx: Shards of Darkness. They’ve released a new launch trailer for the game, explaining a little more about the story you’ll face as the titular character, Styx.

This master of stealth will need all of his guile and agility as he sneaks and assassinates across an intense, dark fantasy world filled with deadly secrets and enemies. Here you’ll get a taster of Styx’s abilities, quick acrobatics and even quicker tongue.

Styx: Shards of Darkness will see the agile goblin make an unexpected deal with a mysterious human officer named Helledryn. She’s got a job for Styx, with far higher stakes than anything he’s tackled before. She will task Styx with stealing an ambassador’s sceptre, which has attracted the interest of several nefarious and as it happens, goblin-hating parties. As a reward for completing this most dangerous of tasks, he’s been promised a veritable mountain of magical Amber, the source of all Styx’s power and a substance he’s hopelessly addicted to.

Revisit and master the verticality and non-linear gameplay of Styx: Shards of Darkness. The open environments, combined with a huge array of tools and abilities offered in this new Styx game. Can’t find a way through a particularly troublesome doorway? Use Amber-vision to scout the path ahead, distract the guards with a controllable Goblin clone then emerge from temporary invisibility to poke them in the back with your dagger and if you don’t like to kill alone, let a friend join in with the drop-in co-op. It’s nearly time to get creative with your killing path once more.

Styx: Shards of Darkness will be unleashed on an Xbox One near you on the 14th of March. Just enough time to stock up on your Amber.

Team up for the kill with new Styx: Shards of Darkness trailer

Styx

What’s better than guiding a super-agile, green skinned goblin assassin around a wholly imaginary fantasy world, killing and causing mischief? How about doing all of that and more, with a friend? Developer Cyanide Studios are going to allow you to do just that as they’ve revealed a brand new co-op mode for their upcoming release, Styx: Shards of Darkness.

Announced in a new trailer, below, you and your friend can sneak your way through the game together; jumping, climbing, hiding, cracking jokes and killing happily with each other thanks to the game’s drop-in / drop-out co-op mode.

At any time during the adventure, you are able to invite a friend to join your current session, sneaking around with you for an alternative stealth experience. Two players opens up many more possibilities and opportunities for clearing a level and reaching objectives, but also doubles the risk of being spotted. Assassination partners must carefully co-ordinate their actions in order to succeed.

Working together to create elaborate distractions, unleash dastardly synchronised assassinations and to run circles around larger enemies, every level and every mission will be playable in co-op which promises to open a new array of gameplay possibilities.

Styx: Shards of Darkness is the follow up to the critically acclaimed first title in the series, Styx: Master of Shadows. This sequel has a bigger budget, bigger ideas and has been completely redesigned in Unreal Engine 4. Shards of Darkness will delve deeper into the world of the paranoid but deadly green goblin, all tied up neatly in a complex narrative.

Following the fall of Akenash Tower, an extraordinary matter has forced Styx out of hiding to infiltrate Korangar, 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 facade. Embark upon a stealthy adventure with new enemies, new environments and a plethora of new stealth and assassination mechanics aimed at refining the abilities and movement of our lovable lead character.

Styx: Shards of Darkness is creeping up on an Xbox One release, on the 14th of March.

New Styx: Shards of Darkness images show off Korrangar

Styx: Shards of Darkness

It’s creeping along in the shadows and would appear to be with us soon. The sequel to 2014’s Styx: Master of Shadows looks to be heading to Xbox One in the first quarter of 2017. To set up the hype train for the new title, Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive have released a small batch of screenshots into the light.

Styx: Shards of Darkness picks up where Master of Shadows left us. After taking care of business in City of Thieves Thoben, our green-skinned Amber addict, Styx agrees to steal an ambassador’s scepter in exchange for vast quantities of the magical Amber. It’s not long before this task takes an unexpected turn and Styx is thrust into a dangerous world of shady politics and powerful magic.

Styx: Shards of Darkness

In Shards of Darkness, Styx has access to a far greater arsenal of tools and abilities to fit with a range of playstyles. Hunt guards with potent Amber powers, or stealthily avoid them. Teleport yourself into a newly hatched Styx clone or spend time on the fresh crafting system. This will allow you to adapt to situations as you progress, giving you the ability to craft lethal traps and other devices from components stolen on your adventures.

Styx: Shards of Darkness

This open-ended approach extends beyond Styx himself. Shards of Darkness will feature highly vertical environments, far grander and more non-linear than the previous title. There is more than one way to achieve each objective, trying out many different routes and tactics along the way. Lurk in the shadowy depths or launch silent and deadly attacks from above. How Styx progresses will be entirely up to you.

The four images released show off the heavily guarded Port of Korrangar, airships in flight and the impish nature of the titular hero himself.

Styx: Shards of Darkness

Styx: Shards of Darkness is heading for a first quarter release on Xbox One. Should you decide to preorder, you’ll get access to the exclusive Akenash set, granting you the iconic outfit and dagger seen in Styx’s first adventure.

New images of Styx: Shards of Darkness revealed

Styx: Shards of Darkness, the sequel to Cyanide Studios’ stealth ’em up, Master of Shadows, creeps back to Xbox One later this year, promising a new adventure with bigger production, tonnes of new features and a new engine: Unreal Engine 4.

And to tease us further are three new images, revealing a few of the many dangers your green anti-hero will have to face during his journey.

One of the hostile factions you will meet in the huge underground city of Korrangar is composed of the Dark Elves. Dark Elves were previously Elves who had to live without any amber for multiple generations. Slowly, they have been turning into fanatic and bloodthirsty creatures. They became masters in Quartz fabrication, a new, much more dangerous, source of power. They are also experts at goblin hunting and the Exterminator Dark Elf is proof of that. He has honed his skills to perfection, and is able to flush out pesky creatures hiding in dark corners and hard-to-reach places with toxic bombs.

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If there’s an even more dangerous place than Korrangar, it would be Wildoran, the city of goblin hunters. Wildoran inhabitants are stout people wearing heavy armour – the powerful Dwarves. Styx is unable to breach their impenetrable defence, so you must innovate and adapt to disable or avoid them. Every dwarf also has a supernatural sense of smell, and is able to slowly track Styx as he moves from cover to cover.

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And in the darkness other foes lie in wait.

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We’ll be able to see more from Styx: Shards of Darkness during E3.

Styx : Shards of Darkness environment screenshots

styx_shards_of_darkness_03Styx: Shards of Darkness, the sequel to Cyanide Studios’  cult classic Master of Shadows, comes to consoles on Unreal Engine 4 in 2016.
In the screenshots released today, we witness Styx prowling through some of the huge environments of the game. From the City of Thieves, built from the wreckages of lost ships, to the great Elven city of Korangar hidden in the mountains, the environments of Styx: Shards of Darkness are enormous and semi-open, with an emphasis on verticality. They allow for a lot of freedom to complete the various missions’ objectives. They are fantastic playgrounds for Styx to test his stealth and assassination skills, and try out his new moves such as rope-swinging and zip-lining.

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These are just some of the huge open spaces oozing with verticality to explore in Styx’s new infiltration adventure! With new ways to traverse the landscape, a deep and original story, as well as huge new features yet to be revealed, Styx’s 2016 mission will be his biggest yet!

Cyanide unveil sequel to Styx: Master of Shadows

Styx is set to receive a sequel to last year’s Master of Shadows. Cyanide are looking to delve deeper into the world of the stealthy Goblin assassin Styx with a heavier focus on narrative and exploration.

Styx: Shards of Darkness will release next year, for now, check out the first screenshot of the game with Styx making his way into the Dark Elves’ city of Körangar. Unfortunately for Styx, the Elves have joined forces with the Dwarves – an unusual partnership – forged together with a mutual hatred of Goblins.

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