In this summer's episode of speedrunners doing the darndest things, I've been gifted yet another absolutely ridiculous feat of level skipping. Wiggling their way out of bounds isn't a new trick for speedrunners by any means, but what's waiting beyond the walls in stealth romp Styx: Shards Of Darkness was not at all what I expected. As part of Summer Games Done Quick earlier today, speedrunner "Tohelot" shows off how he's able to skip through sections of the game by activating secret logic flowcharts that can be found physically hanging around beneath the level.
Styx: Shards Of Darkness is a stealth action game about a rather crass goblin joking his way through big, puzzle-y levels full of guards and monsters. A pal and I played it in co-op earlier this year, taking a couple hours to scratch our heads through each of its levels and cackling over our failures. I fully expected speedrunners to put our pathetic efforts to shame, I just couldn't have predicted they'd do it like this.
Tohelot and his commentator both explain the trick a bit the first time he pulls it off up there. He's able to get his character out of bounds, which speedrunners typically use as a physical shortcut for getting to other parts of a game's map.
In this case, Tohelot is actually headed for what seems to be a developer tool left inside the game. A flowchart on the ground, which you can see up top, represents different level objectives and how they're logically connected. Tohelot walks over the shapes of the chart and manually activates objectives, like a visual cheat menu, which allows him to skip objectives and parts of the level. It's like some kind of magical cheater's hopscotch.
"The database holds all the information about the level objectives and we just go on top of the buttons and press 'yeah, we did the thing' and go to the next level," Tohelot says.
Sometimes crawling out of bounds to cheat with the flowchart is faster, his commentator explains, but other times just outright speedrunning a level as intended is the faster option. Throughout the run, Tohelot does a mix of both, sometimes clipping out of bounds to cheat and other times pulling off some skillful platforming tricks. It's a real neat mix of straightforward speedrunning and meta knowledge.
Here's Tohelot's speedrun from the beginning, if you'd like to see it all.
Ta to Tom Francis for noticing.
It's currently day two of Summer Games Done Quick 2021. The semiannual speedrunning charitython is on through Sunday, July 11th. You can catch the full schedule for the event to see what else is being played this week.
If you're up for some more wild out of bounds shenanigans, check out this run from last year's SGDQ in which a Half-Life: Alyx speedrunner crawls on the floor in real life.