Styx: Shards of Darkness is the latest sequel from Cyanide Studio and it looks as though the team have set out to improve upon every aspect from the original. From better jumping mechanics to actual fights, Cyanide have really wanted to improve every inch of this sequel compared to the first.
GamingBolt recently had a sit down with Julien Desourteaux, Cyanide Studio Game Director and Lead Level Designer to answer some important questions we’ve been hoping to clear up.
"We have multiplayer – it’s all about improving the mechanics that we had in the first one. For example the movements are much more smoother and we added some ropes and pipes to get more ways to interact with the environment, and showcase more versatility and the feel of more danger."
What is Styx’s story this time around? Is it a simple matter of retrieving a scepter or does he set in motion events that he’ll probably regret?
No. It’s funny because we have the trailer about the scepter – the scepter is just the call of adventure. When the heroes join the circle it’s just the call of adventure. The player will be caught by the adventurers of the special contract. You will encounter new characters; you will see a lot of different places like in Master of Shadows. In Shadows of Darkness there is more diversity within the environment; for example we have some aircraft, and then you would go to a dark elves city. It’s just a call of adventure.
What new features and mechanics does the sequel bring, especially with the larger production values to do more?
We have multiplayer – it’s all about improving the mechanics that we had in the first one. For example the movements are much more smoother and we added some ropes and pipes to get more ways to interact with the environment, and showcase more versatility and the feel of more danger. We have some boss fights – you can see one of the huge monsters which is 100 times the size of the goblin; and it’s all about playing with the gameplay mechanics we have and pushing them to the limit.
How does Styx: Shards of Darkness improve on the original game, especially in terms of the sequences that players will engage in?
In the level of the signed the major improvements are diversity in the missions. There you have some investigation to do, listen to some dialogue to learn something; sometimes we have missions where you have to be undetected. It’s all about diversity to have a better player experiences during the game.
What can you tell us about the RPG elements in this iteration?
With the RPG mechanics, we still have the skill tree. We have cloning, crafting, assassination, detection, and five or six branches. It’s up to the player to choose what play style you want to have. So by choosing a branch you set up the character. And as well we have some new powers you will have later in the game, because you will have a new material that can give you special abilities.
Is combat still heavily quick time oriented? What changes have been made to its since the base game?
We have a introduced big improvement in the combat system. In the first game when you enter combat mode, it wasn’t the players that chose to do that it was automatic. Right now it’s up to the player to choose, “I want to fight this guy – I will wait for him to try and hit me, and then I will have a small move to do to parry him. But I will not kill him, I just will stay on him a little bit so I can finish him or I can dodge him.” But you can do that with only one character.
"We are not like the others because you are not a badass guy who shoots everybody when he’s detected. "
Level design is one of the most praised aspects of Master of Shadows. Will we see the same huge levels in Shards of Darkness and how does Unreal Engine 4 help bring them to life?
Totally. I have the same team for the level design. I have the same team as the one on Master of Shadows. We know what is good in our game. We saw a few [things] that were not very good in the first one, we improved them. For example it’s much more smoother now to jump from ledge to ledge, it’s quite easy to achieve. We still kept the verticality and multiple passes.
Just everything is so much better?
Yes. It’s because of Unreal Engine 4: The shaders, technically it’s much more beautiful, and it’s better as well. We have some cut scenes in the game. It’s good for the story because we can have realization. Because in the first one the story was told through a 2-D drawing. Now it’s 3-D cut scenes because of the engine.
What is being done to fix the edge detection issues that plagued the launch of the original game?
It’s much more better right now. It will be very technical, more things that say, “can I do that? Ccan I grab that?” Now you can turn on a corner, you can jump from a ledge, it’s easier to grab an anchor. It’s much more better. It’s much more fluid. But you still need to be a little bit skilled to travel the distance. It’s not like in real life but it’s much more comfortable for the player to have this.
Medieval fantasy stealth is still pretty unrepresented despite some very good games in the genre. What are your thoughts on the same and how will Styx stand out among other stealth games?
First, you are a goblin. I haven’t seen any goblins in this area except ours. Second, we are not like the others because you are not a badass guy who shoots everybody when he’s detected. You have to flee, you are small, you have to use your special abilities. He’s fragile. So direct confrontation is not a good option in our game. It’s all about skills, it’s about not being detected to achieve that special trick. To know the mechanics, exploit them, and be creative with that.
When can we expect Styx: Shards of Darkness to release? Is it still on track for this year?
It will be released in the third quarter of this year.