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  • Frogge
  • 05/19/2020 10:35 PM

STYGIAN by Gustav / Astral (Translated by ForgoneMoose)
Length: ~40 minutes

I am very happy that Cat in the Box got the attention that it deserved. Not only is it a well designed game, it is also a return to horror from the developer Gustav, and that enough makes me happy. For a long time the only game of theirs that I knew was Leave, which I also have a review for (but I warn you that it is not a very well written one), and despite the fact that the 2.5 point score I gave it could be interpreted as low by some, I just consider that to be average. However, it's also worth noting that my score of a game does not necessarily reflect how I remember it. I look back at Leave very fondly as one of the first rpg maker games I've ever played, and probably the first to actually scare me to the point of me not being able to finish it. I was much younger at the time, and not very experienced with horror, so that was something that actually happened a lot more often, but it was still enough to "leave" a mark on me (hehehe).

Years later I discovered what freem was, and I got so excited about seeing so much rpg maker horror I'd never heard of that I think I went through all 60 or so pages the site had of horror games at the time. Out of all of those 60 pages, one of the games I've always been most interested in was STYGIAN, to the point that I was so curious as to what it was like that I tried playing it in japanese at first to see if I could make out the story from the visual storytelling. I got stuck pretty early on, but I assure you I couldn't have. I did eventually discover Translator++ which mass-translates all the text in rpg maker games into english using google translate, and the first game I immediately tried playing was STYGIAN. It was a janky translation as one might expect, but I got the gist of the story, even though I didn't completely understand every detail.

Now that Cat in the Box has gained popularity, I've seen quite a few people asking for STYGIAN in english since the games share some narrative ties. It seemed inevitable that at least one person would step up and translate STYGIAN, and thankfully real MVP ForgoneMoose did a pretty worthy job with it. The translation is very well done for the most part and I was only able to find one untranslated line of text in the purple room with the hexagram, but it's just an object interaction that I highly doubt contained any big information. There are one or two lines that I did not completely understand, but I don't know if that's on the translation or on me, but once again it's so minor that it doesn't reduce the quality of the translation overall. I was immediately excited to replay the game with a more proper translation for the details that I missed, so for those of you reading this review in the future just know that it was written the game they day released because I was that excited about it.

Slighly unrelated, but just to break up the text. Man, Gustav/Astral loves throwing cameos right at the very end.

Now, is STYGIAN the best game ever made? Not really. One of the readme files even mentions that the developer specifically asked the translator to let people know that the game is from 2015 and does not reflect their current skills. And while that's all well and good, I think this game is very decently made with no real huge downsides that warrants such a claim. I mean, I make games, and I get that feeling of hating every old thing you make as you get better, but STYGIAN certainly shows enough skill in its creation that I can, as a player and fellow developer, say that it's a worthwhile predecessor to Cat in the Box. In fact, I might prefer it overall just because it has a more special place for me, even if Cat in the Box is probably objectively the better game of the two.

The only part of the game that I don't feel fully reflect Gustav's current talents lie in the graphics. That is not to say the graphics of this game are bad, it's just that they're a little rough around the edges. For the most part I think this game actually looks pretty nice. It's a little too dark for its own good, but the mapping is coherent and the character art is actually pretty damn awesome. So what's the rough part? Well, I'm aware of how nitpicky what I'm about to say will sound, so just know that it's more of an observation than something that affected my overall experience. Some of the sprite animations look a little jagged and don't quite have the polish to them. A very minor weird thing I noticed is that when you stand still while facing up, the player sprite will kind of glitch out a little bit with a shadow moving around the knee parts, which I think is from a walking animation that was accidentally placed there. The monster itself also isn't the most impressively drawn sprite I've seen, but it gets the job done. There are other minor things I can comment on like how the candles in the library are placed too low so they don't actually look like they're on the table, but I think you get the point that it's all very insignificant stuff. It just wouldn't be a Frogge review without pointing out the extremely minor nitpicks that no one else would bother pointing out.

And in complete honesty, there isn't much else to talk about. I don't really have anything to look into semi at depth, because with every aspect of STYGIAN my opinion is generally the same - it's a solid, standart game. And that's honestly my opinion on Cat in the Box summed up too. I think they play out in a very familiar way if you've played any rpg maker horror at all in the past, so you won't find anything groundbreakingly original in either game, but as far as standart games go, I think what they do, they do well.

The story is very basic, and it does have one cool minor twist that I didn't actually know about before playing this translation because it wasn't very understandable by Translator++'s one.
It turns out that the girl is actually a monster, but I hadn't realized beforehand that it's actually the body of the girl that was mangled up in the purple room.

The characters don't really have much going on for them, but they get the job done for such a short game. There are some cool details I noticed on a subsequent playthrough, and I always appreciate little things like that, so that was a plus.

Shut up, trying to unlock a door with a piece of paper is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

The gameplay itself is also very basic, but just as with the story and characters, it gets the job done just fine for such a short game. You'll basically explore the maze-like location and either collect items to use in other places or solve extremely simple puzzles, most of which can be solved with trial and error, with occasionally some running from the game's monster sprinkled in. I guess the only other thing I would note here is that the game page says the game should take a little under an hour and a half, but I easily beat it in 40 minutes, even though I took my time to check every nook and cranny. It might boil down to the fact that I tend to read through text pretty quickly, but I definitely think the average player could beat this in 30 minutes easy. I'll admit I got lazy with the last puzzle and just used the solution from the game files, which may have cut down my gameplay time slightly, but I highly doubt it would have increased it an hour and twenty minutes.

And that's... about as much as I have to note. I know it was a lot of backstory for a review that made like three points at most, but STYGIAN doesn't have any huge positives or large negatives for me to look into in detail. However, if you're a fan of rpg maker horror like me, there's a good chance you could enjoy this. It feels very familiar in a lot of ways, but the developer's own style adds a lot of charm to it. It's a game I can see myself returning to again in the future, and it's definitely a game I'll continue to look back at fondly. Sometimes you don't need an excellent game to make you super excited, you just need something that feels like a very traditional example of the kind of games you really used to enjoy, and still do. I'm glad STYGIAN is finally in english so more people can be introduced to it. I also find it creepy that one of the very few japanese games I've played with Translator++ ended up getting translated. If witchxprincess sacrifice gets a translation this year I just might get suspicious.

I give STYGIAN three and a half funky purple tentacle monsters out of five.


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should i get tr++ and streem freem games too?

I see u didnt bother with the final puzzle, lol. This game sure has alot of those random switch puzzles that took me forever to brute force thru. It's not a bad game but with puzzles like that I really dont think i want to replay it at any point, though. Even the first one (the 4 levers and 2 doors) took me way longer than it should have.
I wanna marry ALL the boys!! And Donna is a meanc
should i get tr++ and streem freem games too?


There's so much cool stuff i wanna see in english but am too lazy to play myself so i guarantee i'll probably watch 99% of whatever you stream, if not live then later on youtube

Let me know if you need any help with tr++ it was an absolute bitch to learn how to use it but I think I have a decent grasp on it now
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