Deep beneath the Balkan Peninsula, an excavation team makes an astounding discovery. But your first day on the job turns into a fight for survival as you realize some old artifacts weren't the only thing to be uncovered.
The shadows are not safe in the outpost of Styx. In order to escape you must make use of any light sources you can to keep the creature stalking you at bay.
A small generator introduces the player to the main mechanics of the game: manipulating light to enable you to progress through the game. Starting the generator turns on the floodlights near the HQ.
Concept sketch of the cavern's layout.
The now illuminated HQ building. Turning on the lights also introduces the character to the main obstacle in the game. A loud screech can be heard as the lights turn on, signalling someone does not appreciate it.
Entrance to the HQ, clearly something terrible has occurred here recently.
A spotlight on top of the HQ, turning it on would illuminate a tunnel.
The player can now progress.
Drilling machines left behind by the workers. Perhaps turning them on could help the player progress.
Lights on the front of the drilling machine can keep the creature at bay, allowing for safe passage.
An archeological dig site, it appears an ancient artifact has been unearthed.
Using a relic found earlier in the game, this ancient device can be reactivated.
An ancient generator comes back online, lighting up the surrounding cave.
The power surge damaged a nearby spotlight, which begins to spark and ignites some spilled fuel.
Entrance to the final area.
End of the prototype, behind that door could be the remnants of an ancient civilization, and more of the strange creatures stalking you.
A destroyed elevator shaft that traps the main character underground. It is up to the player to find his way out.
The darkness plays a large role in this game. Entering a shadowed area allows for the creature stalking the player to attack. Most of the obstacles in this game involve figuring out how to light a safe path.
As Styx takes place underground, we wanted to have a mix of organically formed cave walls, some dug out areas, and a few lab buildings. I also wanted to have the player revisit some areas, with some small changes since the previous visit.
The concept evolved a little as production on it continued. We decided to cut a few of the archeological dig sites from the final design, in order to save time and allow for more time to polish the remaining areas.
The game is about exploring the cave and figuring out what happened to the archeology crew. Clues in the environment tell a story as to the unfortunate event that transpired.
The game is filled with narrative extras for the player to explore. The slide show acts as a small introduction for the main character, and gives a sneak peak at the layout of the cave, as well as clueing the player into the
We used a green shimmer to draw the player's eye towards objects that could be interacted with. Here, the switch is highlighted.
The switch activates the dynamic light, and shuts off the damage causing volumes that had filled the previously dark space.
The color green was used to attract the player's attention, beyond just relying on a highlight. The green button on the machine is usable
Once used, a switch in the texture instance turns the button red.
Section 4 was the first archeological dig site the player comes across. In the lab in section 3, the player had found a small artifact. After leaving the lab, the creature is very close.
Moving through the maze like tunnels to section 4, one can hear the creature destroying the lights behind you, as the darkness quickly catches up to you. This forces the player forward and prevents any backtracking.
Once in the dig site, the player catches a glimpse of what was so important about this excavation. A large cluster of statues has been uncovered, and begins to glow when the player approaches with the artifact found in the lab.
Activating the relic causes some rings to levitate. A large power surge occurs, blowing out some nearby spotlights, but the room is left illuminated by the statues.
For this area, I wanted to break away from the typical "turn on light, proceed" methodology the player had encountered so far. Igniting a river seemed a good way to allow the player to move on, and add some moment of excitement as the river combusts.
The player has, at this point, killed off the creature that was stalking him, and entered a portion of the cave that was unexplored by the dig team.
Since Styx was developed as a prototype first level of what could be a much larger story, and we wanted it to leave off on a cliffhanger.
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Roles: Lead Engineer, Level Designer
Team Size: 5
The plan behind Styx was to provide a compelling environment for the player to explore, using light, sound and triggered events. Thrust into the underground outpost, which appears to have suffered some horrific attack, the player has to escape while avoiding the darkness. For in that darkness, awaits a creature out of the player's worst nightmares. The idea behind the game was to never show the monster that stalks you, as creatures never seem to live up to the horrors that we concoct within our imaginations.
This game was created using the UDK engine. A team of 3 designers and 2 artists worked to bring the game world to life. Per my role as engineer, I made adjustments to the player class within Unreal to alter movement speed, removed the HUD and inventory, and was working to implement a custom gun before that feature was cut from the design. I also designed several kismet sequences to use for the puzzles throughout the game, including the monster attack script that occurred whenever the player entered the darkness.
I also designed the cave layout, which was broken down into sections for level streaming. Three of these sections I built and meshed in the editor.