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Screenshot of Styx Shards of Darkness Game Cover

What is Styx Shards of Darkness?

Styx Shards of Darkness is the last installment in the series produced by Cyanide. The game was developed by the French company and published by Focus Home Interactive. Since its release in mid-March 2017, the sequel to Styx Master of Shadows sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It can be played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows systems.

Key facts about Styx Shards of Darkness

  • Styx Shards of Darkness is the best game in the series and a great way to wrap up the trilogy.
  • The consoles are highly responsive and the gameplay feels fluid and pretty challenging
  • Styx Shards of Darkness is built on a few original concepts and has an interesting level design.
  • Players can improvise a great deal using the heroe’s abilities and the environment.
  • Styx Shards of Darkness still struggles with poor AI and the combat system is far from perfect.

Gameplay of Styx Shards of Darkness

Styx Shards of Darkness was supposed to be a giant leap forward compared to the previous games in the series, in terms of gameplay. Developers have added new game mechanics to make the leading character more powerful and easier to control. Players can now sneak around much easily and surprise opponents with a dazzling array of lethal moves. Some of them are fairly simple while others require a great deal of strategy to succeed. Unfortunately, the AI is not too smart and some opponents are extremely easy to beat.

Even so, the Styx Shards of Darkness gameplay definitely benefits from a visible improvement in the quality of artificial intelligence. Except for a couple of NPCs which are bugged and wonder aimlessly around the map, most of them know what they’re doing. There is little collaboration between enemies and they don’t seem to notice when a fellow guard is killed. The game still relies overwhelmingly on stealth and punishes those who try to take the hands-on approach.

Thanks to the addition of new game mechanics, the character is more lethal has a better chance in a one versus one fight. Regular missions can be completed in cooperative mode and this is where stealth is less important. Even if one of the player is spotted by the guards, they can still complete the mission if they work together well. The difficulty of the cooperative mode resides in the fact that you can’t save the game and need to plan every in advance. The first title that comes to mind when analyzing the gameplay of Styx Shards of Darkness is obviously its predecessor Styx Master of Shadows. Having said this, players who enjoyed Assassin's Creed and Hitman will find many similarities here.

Screenshot of Styx Shards of Darkness On the Wire

Plot of Styx Shards of Darkness

The story of Styx Shards of Darkness spans over nine missions and they can easily be completed in less than 20 hours. Even beginners who know nothing about the game will have no problem in accomplishing missions in less than two hours. Our hero needs to infiltrate fortresses, evade the attacks of those who try to capture him and strike when least expected. Throughout the single player campaign, players will appreciate the humor in most missions.

The developers tried to make the most of this original setting and encourage players to explore the open world. It all depends on how much players are going to stray from the main quest line. Ideally, those who acquire and play Styx Shards of Darkness shouldn’t try to rush to its conclusion. The voyage can be more exciting than the destination, as the mysteries lying in the deep corners of the world are worth exploring.

Defeating opponents and honing skills can get repetitive, if you don’t care much about the environment. Styx Shards of Darkness will take players to remote airstrips, small fishing villages as well as imposing elven cities. It is clear that the game came a long way since its humble beginnings and the new title is the best looking one. There are puzzles to solve some of them are essential for progressing with the single player campaign. Other puzzles will simply grant players access to hidden treasures and riches.

Screenshot of Styx Shards of Darkness Set the Trap

Development of Styx Shards of Darkness

Styx Shards of Darkness development started sometime after the previous game was launched. News broke out in the last quarter of 2015 when Cyanide confirmed that it was working on new title. The company used the E3 2016 events to showcase its latest trailer and the audience was impressed. What makes this game great is that it follows in the footsteps of the prequel, while greatly improving the gameplay. Players were brought up to date with the new features even during the development stage.

Despite the fact that users went to great lengths to create the best looking game possible, the deadline was not missed. The game hit the stores in March 2017 and didn’t require any patches or fixes. The cut scenes are beautiful and more numerous than expected, with short videos scattered across the single player. The game runs on a new engine and the fact that it benefited from a bigger budget is self evident.

Where can I download Styx Shards of Darkness?

In order to download Styx Shards of Darkness or any of the other games in the series for what that matters, one would have to go straight to Cyanide website. Focus Home Interactive would also be a good destination, since this is the publisher of the game and you can find other titles here. Assassin's Creed and Hitman fans should be the first to try this in all, since they are not that different after all. It obviously goes the other way around, for those who want to try something different.

The developers said nothing about the imminent release of downloadable content packs or additional missions. However, since the single player campaign is relatively short, we can expect some add-ons in a not so distant future. If and when more content becomes available, it should be downloadable at Cyanide.

Screenshot of Styx Shards of Darkness Against all Odds

What are others saying about Styx Shards of Darkness?

Styx Shards of Darkness was expected to build on the popular concepts promoted by the first game in the series. Better visuals, new skills and abilities as well as more cut scenes were promised and the developers delivered on all accounts. That’s why the Styx Shards of Darkness review scores only move upward since the game was released. It currently stands as the most popular game in the series, despite the occasional complaints regarding the AI.

Those who went as far as to write reviews, found it worthwhile to talk a little bit about cooperative play. This is the new addition to the series and it is largely beneficial, as it makes the game more exciting. Players can host or join a game and together with friends solve puzzles and defeat increasingly powerful enemies. The biggest problem is that in the absence of a chat service, many things can go wrong and they usually do. Players are advised to play with a friend instead of a stranger and stay in touch.

Most players were not impressed by the single player campaign and complained about poor writing and predictable quests. Some found them missions to be capricious and arbitrary, while blaming the AI for the easy progression. Even so, the average review score revolves around 75% on aggregator websites, which is above the average. Kind things were said about the leading character, despite his questionable humor.

My Rating of Styx Shards of Darkness

Styx Shards of Darkness was a must play game for me, since I had so much fun with the previous title. I didn’t have insanely high expectations for this game and that’s probably why I enjoyed every minute spent playing. Unfortunately, if you take the game too seriously and are decently good at it, you can complete it all in roughly 14 hours. That’s not a lot for a game that only has nine missions and this makes it more difficult to recommend it to those who want to get the best bang for the money.

There are many similarities between the new addition and the title released in 2014, but the gameplay is definitely better. The same can be said about the visuals and sound effects and personally I like the cinematics very much. While I think that the average review scores you will find online are generally right, I’m willing to go slightly above those ratings. Fans will agree with me that Styx Shards of Darkness deserves a score of 8/10, despite its minor problems.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
8
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