Shards of Darkness is a goblin from the past. Review / Games

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Genre Stealth-action
Publisher Focus Home Interactive
The Publisher in Russia "Buka"
The developer

The Foregone Syndicate

The minimum requirements Processor Intel Core i5-2500 3.3 GHz / AMD FX-6300 3.5 GHz, 8 GB RAM, video card with DirectX 11 support and 1 GB of memory, for example NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 / AMD Radeon R7 260X v3, 15 GB on the hard drive, Internet connection and account on Steam
Recommended Requirements Processor Intel Core i5-4460 3.2 GHz / AMD FX-8320 3.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM, video card with support for DirectX 11 and 2 GB of memory, for example NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 / AMD Radeon R9 270X
Release date 14 March 2017
Age qualification from 16 years of age
Platforms PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The official website of the

The game was tested on the PC

While the studio Spiders is desperately trying to get into the niche of expensive RPG, its colleagues from Cyanide try themselves in different genres. In 2014, the French released an unexpectedly successful stealth action Styx: Master of Shadows which described the adventures of the goblin Styx. The guys justly judged that the charismatic hero should again appear on the screens. It is said – done.

# A shadow has flashed by …

Shards of Darkness is the third goblin's entrance to the public. We got to know Styx in Of Orcs and Men a role-playing middleman, where he and the orc Arkail saved the race of greenskins from humans and elves. Then there was a solo prequel that revealed the mystery of the character's birth. The action of the new game unfolds in the time interval between the two projects, that is, this sequel prequel (the head is not spinning?). Our old acquaintance is vegetating in the city of Toben – that still a hole full of filth, corruption and criminal elements.

Styxu this environment does not interfere with enjoying life, because the best bear cub in the dismal world of Akenas is in demand. As usual, a great adventure begins with the next order. This time, strangely enough, with the business proposal, the captain of the goblin hunters squadron came. If you did not go through the previous part, then notice that it, among other things, resulted in the appearance of these same goblins as a race. But back to the financial side of the issue. For a dust-free work offer a huge supply of amber – essences, which the protagonist appreciates. Basically because it serves as the main resource for the application of special abilities.

The script of the original missed the stars from the sky, but surprised with one really unexpected plot twist. The sequel shows another picture: there are no moments in history that can be hit by a sudden slap, but it also contains a decent number of events and does not let you get bored. The world has greatly increased in depth. If in the previous issue the dark elves were represented by a very conventional enemy, then this time we will be introduced to the political order of their society, faith, traditions.

Styx himself was still the same charismatic and charming anti-hero who does not get behind the word in his pocket. The authors decided to add humor to what is happening and drill a couple of holes in the fourth wall. Goblin jokes about Dishonored, and about Thief, and after each death, he will necessarily throw a caustic phrase about the player himself.

Geography became richer. The action of Master of Shadows unfolded in a single city, and Shards of Darkness toss Styx over various sights: from the hunting village to the hard labor mines. Thanks to the move to the new engine (Unreal Engine 4), Shards of Darkness looks two orders of magnitude more attractive than its predecessor – the picture is bright and juicy, and the interiors the language no longer turns to be called poor.

One of the main advantages of the original was the spacious levels with a dozen roads to the goal. Continuation, which is logical, still emphasizes such "mini sandboxes". Locations have become more spacious, and there are plenty of ways to carry out missions. Styx cleverly scrambles on any ledge, grabs the hung on the walls of iron, jumps from the rope to the rope and shines on the chandeliers. A special pleasure is to get somewhere higher, to track the guards, to make a route taking into account its movements, and then to fulfill the planned plan with filigree precision. A rare representative of the genre now offers such freedom.

# … but no, it seems to me it was imagined

Shards of Darkness is something to call an old-fashioned game. There is no map here, it is necessary to focus exclusively on the peephole. But the marker, if it does not indicate a specific goal, then at least prompts the search area. In its construction, the game is practically no different from the previous part, so those familiar with the Master of Shadows will feel at home. Beginners, however, will also be easy to learn. The rules are simple, like two kopecks: do not make a noise, do not get caught in your eyes, and you will overcome any obstacles.

The complexity is lined up flexibly: on the one hand, it will not be a problem to go through the game, but on the other hand, it's a real test to rush through the level of a noiseless shadow without a single alarm and murder. Even with the fact that enemies are often blind, still do not pay attention to the open doors, and in the dark around them you can almost dance around. Although the gnomes do not work this trick – underground residents are able to smell goblins for a dozen meters.

We should not neglect the special talents of Styx and a modest but effective set of adaptations. A special view mode will allow you to see all the active objects in the district, and the created clone will help to arrange a sabotage. Acid mine is ideal for a trap, and an old good knife in clever hands will help to throw the chandelier on the unlucky guard. For the passage of tasks, additional missions and the fulfillment of special conditions, you will receive experience points for which you can improve skills or learn new ones. True, not all of them are useful, and the most interesting will be obtained by the middle of the game.

One of the weakest points of Master of Shadows was the combat system. Winning a one-on-one duel was still possible, but to confront several opponents is almost impossible. In the sequel, the essence has not changed – you need to parry the attack of the enemy in time, and only then we are allowed to give change. But now the developers have allowed to escape from the battlefield. Yes, the camera is no longer fixed on the opponent. The authors apparently understand the meaninglessness of the battles themselves, because often the alarm ends with the download of the nearest save. On the last two levels, the difficulties of battle are completely disabled: run away or die fast – Styx is not distinguished by vitality.

Of the global innovations the first place is occupied, of course, by the cooperative. Cyanide in one of the last trailers boasted that the cards are designed taking into account the game with a live partner … but we did not notice it. The unique interaction between companions, as in the multiplayer Splinter Cell: Blacklist is absent. The maximum that can be done is to get rid of two guards at the same time, who are looking at each other. Although in the Shards of Darkness there are simply no situations when you can not slip past the guard unnoticed. But with the joint passage, the complexity automatically becomes the maximum, and if both players die, you'll have to start the mission from the beginning.

Probably, instead of online, it was worth the effort to polish a single game, because some of the sores of Master of Shadows moved to the sequel. Yes, Shards of Darkness looks much more expensive than its predecessor, but the weak artificial intelligence has not gone away. He ignores the doors opening in front of his nose, and disappearing right behind his partners. The route of the guards is always identical, and only a knife in the throat will force the brave warrior to cease selflessly to cut the same circle.

Surprisingly, the authors again propose to go backwards in the levels at which Styx has already visited previous missions. The benefits of location are so spacious that you can choose radically different ways – so much so that you do not immediately notice the catch. But an unpleasant sludge is not caused by repeated runs, but by the finals. The narration, in fact, just breaks off, leaving the player in confusion – whether the DLC wait, or a full third. If the sales this time everything will turn out well.

* * *

Styx: Shards of Darkness is a good game that brings us back to the golden age of the genre. But in the times of Dishonored 2 or Metal Gear Solid V the creation of Cyanide in places looks like hi from the past. For someone it's good, for someone – not very much. Personally, we are definitely waiting for the return of the sarcastic Styx to the screens in the third part.

Pluses:

  • spacious maps with dozens of paths to the goal;
  • simple but fascinating stealth mechanics;
  • flexible configuration of complexity;
  • beautiful scenery.

Disadvantages:

  • The battles are very boring – it's good that they are simply turned off at the last levels of difficulty;
  • reuse of locations with a general small amount of content in the game;
  • stupid AI

There are no translations available.

Drawing graphics Unreal Engine 4 does its thing. Landscapes are bright and mesmerizing, the volume effects of post-processing enliven the picture, and the animation is smooth and pleasing to the eye. The game looks good even next to expensive AAA projects. 8
Sound The soundtrack, apart from the dynamic symphonic melody in the final duel, can not boast of anything. But the voice of the protagonist at the height. 7
The Single Game Classic stealth, during which you will repeatedly quote the captain of the "Team-A": "I love when everything goes according to plan." For other cases, there is F9. 8
The collective game The cooperative does not add to the passage of new colors, which casts doubt on the necessity of this possibility. But someone probably will come in handy. 7
The general impression Cyanide continues to slowly but surely develop his universe in the spirit of black fantasy. Shards of Darkness – a step in the right direction, both in terms of history and in the gameplay. We hope that the authors will not stop there. 8

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