PAX South 2019: ‘Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones’

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It seems that RPGs are all over the place nowadays. And it’s understandable; it’s a very popular genre. But Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones is something new and very different in the RPG market Stygian combines the themes and tropes of gothic and pulp fiction with classic roleplaying mechanics to create a horror game like no other.

Stygian begins in a world in which the old gods have risen and the world is submerged into chaos. As a citizen of Arkham, a quaint town based off 18th century England, your peaceful and placid life has turned upside down. The town of Arkham is stuck between dimensions and has been invaded by all sorts of abominations. Waking to this new dark, dismal world, you encounter a man whom you refer to as the ‘Dismal Man’. You have no choice but to follow this man but you get a feeling that he has something to do with the end of the world. However, what you choose to do in this new world and why you choose to follow the Dismal Man is all up to you. You may pursue the Dismal Man in search of power or follow him to seek out answers or revenge.

As a survivor, you must investigate the odd occurrences within the city. You’ll encounter various monsters based on H.P. Lovecraft’s tales. However, it’s not just the monsters you need to be wary of as soon you will realize it’s not just you who has gone crazy.

There are two factions that have taken over Arkham, the Mob and the Cult. The cultists worship Cthulhu in these end times, erecting driftwood statues of their God. The characters you encounter are also heavily influenced by HP Lovecraft. For example, in your quest to fight against the darkness, you can convince the protagonist of “The Outsider” to join your party.

True to an RPG, the character creation mechanics are vast. You can choose from eight archetypes, based off of typical archetypes from 1920s comics. Each archetype has its own backstories and specialties. Further character selection involves choosing attributes and skills. Beyond this, you can choose your character’s belief system. These belief systems determine how your character copes with the insanity that will ensue and determine how they can regenerate lost sanity.

For example, if your character is rational, picking rational dialogue choices will regenerate your character’s sanity. Therefore, it behooves you to act like your character. Sanity loss will leave its marks on characters as mental illnesses. Your character’s sanity and mental state will influence dialogue options. In some cases, mental illnesses can come in handy but are just as likely to be a hindrance.

Although physical fighting is scarce in the game, it is rather difficult. The battle system is turn-based. Combat includes physical weapons but also allows you to use spells. However, be warned, there are high costs involved with the black magic of Stygian. If a fight is too hard, escaping is just as much a viable option as fighting. However, if fighting is what you want to do, you can hire an NPC to fight your fights.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out their website and play the demo. If you want to support the game, check out their Kickstarter. And, finally, you can track and wishlist the game on Steam.