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Stygian: Reign Of The Old Ones is a creepy Cthulhu RPG

Stygian: Reign Of The Old Ones is an RPG set in Arkham, the big Cthulhu mythos town, after it’s been zapped into another dimension of unending horror and madness from which none can hope to escape. A bit like living in England, then.

Although the whole Cthulhu business isn’t a particularly uncommon inspiration for games these days, this one is definitely going for something a bit more complex than simply fighting off gibbering robey boys and tentaculats. “The struggle in Stygian is not to save the world,” says its Steam page, “for that battle is lost already. Pursue your own goals in these end times: salvation, vendetta, or perhaps something darker.” I’ll have something darker, please.

I’ll have a trailer and some thoughts, too, having played it for a wee while.

It’s a bit good. I’ve no particular interest in Lovecraft even when he’s not being a massive racist, so I was a little surprised how quickly this one pulled me in. When creating a character there are lots of interesting options, from your background to your beliefs, many of which affect your conversation options, and what benefit you’ll get from choosing particular courses of action. An occultist could benefit from being a bit touched in the head, or you might be a nihilistic gangster and gain sanity from being skeptical and matter-of-fact.

I wasn’t sold on the art style at first, but its slightly lolloping, lanky people actually fit well, giving a simian wildness to attackers and, combined with the wry humour here and there, a mild air of levity that counteracts the dark and hopeless setting. Combat is turn-based and resolves a bit slowly for my taste, and I was a bit miffed to be pelted with stones that somehow hit harder than my bullets. But then, I was a sexy, charming actor with a soft heart who tried to comfort people, but wasn’t much of a fighter. And I was alone. Loading screen tips indicate that this is doing things a bit different, as you have to pay any AI to help your team or they’ll sod off. “Stygian is not about winning but enduring”, says another tip.

Society has sort of adapted, which gives it a faintly Fallout-ish feel. In particular, I like that the Mob has so much power, to the point where anyone who crosses them will be “marked”, all but guaranteeing the sinister cult will come for them. Creepy business, but also convincingly mercenary. Yeah, I think this might be a good’un.

Stygian: Reign Of The Old Ones is on Humble, Steam, and GOG, at a discounted price of £20.39 / €21.24 / $25.49 until the 3rd of October.

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