Review: Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones

Games based on HP Lovecraft’s mysterious world have been popular for a long time. Understandable, since it does make an interesting start for games. Cultic Games is one of the most recent developers that took a chance on Lovecraft’s universe. They got their inspiration for enemies, environments, and storylines in his original works and fans will definitely recognize parts of the author’s world. Did Cultic Games manage to make an exciting and horrifying Lovecraftian game? Find out!

What do you do? In Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, the player journeys from a doomed Arkham into the depths of the Abyss. Create your own character based on the 1920’s archetypes and carve a path through a broken and mysterious world. Your desperate battle against forces beyond comprehension will haunt you until the end. Physical combat will be challenging, spellcasting will have dire consequences, and your sanity will be strained to the breaking point by unknown abominations. Sometimes the best solution will be to flee what lurks beyond the threshold.

What we liked!

  • Graphics: If you’re a fan of the Lovecraft universe, you’re going to absolutely love these graphics. They fit in so well, it’s amazing! Never heard of Lovecraft (which I doubt), or never really bothered with getting to know the universe? Get ready to be stunned. Honestly, the grim details and art style of Stygian is absolutely perfect and definitely my favorite part about this game!
  • Various characters: Having different types of characters to choose from is always fun in my opinion. Rather than playing with a standard character, you get to choose someone who resembles you or someone you would look up to. The process of creating your character in Stygian was very interesting. For example, you get to pick at what age you start. You’re either young, adult or old. Each comes with its own features, like an adult, who has a balance in physical aptitude and life experience and starts with default values. You can also choose your archetype. Want to be a soldier or a performer? A criminal or an academic? Each archetype has its own descriptions, features and a background you can pick. Besides this, there is the belief system (how you deal with the reality), the identity, your name, and your stat distribution. You’re quite busy putting together your perfect character before actually starting the game.
  • Story: The overall story, including the conversations you have with people, is quite interesting. Keeping sanity and reality separate sometimes becomes a real task and this is what makes the game very interesting. You have to engage in a lot of dialogue with the people of Arkham if you want to uncover more about the story. This may not be fun for everyone, but the writing is done so well, that you want to keep finding out more.

Somewhere between

  • Barely any help: This is no game that holds your hand throughout the gameplay. It won’t even stand next to you in the beginning parts of the game. You pretty much have to figure everything out yourself. I did not really enjoy this. It was all very confusing at first and a little more help would’ve been welcome. I didn’t need the game to hold my hand all the way through but just explaining the beginning parts would’ve saved some time and helped me enjoy Stygian a little more.

What we disliked

  • Slow combat: I tried to avoid combat as much as possible. And that’s weird since I usually like engaging in combat in games. In Stygian, the fight parts are just tedious. There is an enormous amount of time where you just wait around for your enemies to finish their moves. Yes, enemies have to attack and defend but they don’t have to take forever. I know this town is filled with insanity but I don’t need to be reminded in combat THE WHOLE FREAKING TIME. The long ass combat really annoyed me and spoiled my excitement.   
  • One save: I’m sure lots of people like trying out different characters. I mean, definitely when there are so many starting possibilities to chose from. But why, oh why, did the developers decide to only include one save slot? If you want to begin a second adventure with a different character, you have no choice but to write over your previous gameplay.
  • Unfinished: Towards the end, the game feels unfinished. Even I like an open-end every now and then, but here is just really feels unfinished. That’s a real shame since this story has quite a lot to offer. Is this a hint from the developers towards a part 2? Or was this just them wanting to finish up this game real quick?

Rating:

60%

My feelings about Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones are very mixed. At times, I really enjoyed myself. Other times I didn’t care about the game at all. The writing and graphics made me want to explore this game and the city even more. The difficult start and especially the tedious combat need improvement asap, please. I’m confident this game has potential, it just hasn’t reached it yet.  

Maui

PC Team coordinator and writer for LifeisXbox (PC)

23-year-old muggle born who enjoys writing, gaming, dogs, music and naps. You’ll most likely find me behind my computer or at a concert. Or in my bed sleeping.