Before getting into modern console gaming I grew up playing cRPG’s like Baldurs Gate, Fallout, Planescape Torment, and Arcanum on the PC. The play style and isometric view point used in these classics are attributes I hold dear to my heart. So when Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones appeared on the scene, it definitely got my interest. So much so, it made moving back into the office chair from the couch very easy.
But first, a big warning. This is a game for adults. And even some adults may find some of the content offensive. Trust me, I am not easily offended but one conversation with a prostitute even had me taken back.
Red Pill or Blue Pill?
Now with that in mind, the whole tone and setting of Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones is fantastic. A complex and interesting story that will require your full attention. This is a story where what you say, do, and even witness has an effect on your wellbeing. Your sanity and mental state influence the game as much as your physical abilities with combat being the last option in many cases.
Choosing the right attributes and background for your character at the start is paramount for your planned play style to succeed. If you choose to be materialistic and then start helping people out of the goodness of your heart, things will be very hard for you. You really do have to role play the character you set up.
Is that Cthulhu?
Based on 1920’s and in styles inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft the visuals are beautifully different. Backgrounds are a fixed affair in which you move around. No camera issues here. Those unfamiliar with Lovecraft’s work may turn their noses up at the cartoony look. So please, look into what the great man has inspired before passing judgement. Cultic Games have done a fantastic job capturing that Lovecraftian feel.
Anyone who has played any of the old school isometric role playing games will be instantly comfortable with the controls and inventory system. Simple things like ‘i’ for your inventory makes the game immediately accessible to the target audience. It also helps that Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones will run on pretty much any old potato of a PC. Which is what many of us older cRPG players tend to have.
Things that make you go hmmm…
Fans of both Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura and Planescape: Torment will fall in love here. Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, along with Arcanum and Planescape, are really deep, thought provoking games. You aren’t going to get any enjoyment out if you don’t put the time in and really take in the world and its lore. Skipping through dialogue and cut scenes is the absolute worst thing you can do here. In no time at all you will be lost and have no immersion in the game world.
And here is the second edge to that sword. Having enough time to sink into this. Lets face it, as an adult gamer, life is constantly getting in the way of games. Wife, kids, work, mowing the lawns…. It is never ending. And God forbid a late night session, that’ll wreck you for a week! So be forewarned, have a bit of time up you sleeve for this one, it is worth it.
I not sure I’m ready to return to PC gaming in a large amounts of time, I just love the couch too much. Also don’t miss compatibility issues. But games like Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones really remind me where my love of gaming came from. And this style of game just plays best with a mouse and keyboard. Hopefully a new PC is on the horizon and then more PC gaming, maybe. At least I can enjoy the exquisite Lovecraftian world of Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, even if I get a numb butt from the office chair….