Styx speedrunner uses literal in-game flowcharts to cut through levels

(Image credit: Cyanide)

Speedrunning involves a lot of trying to figure out the precise logic of a game. Discovering where it's making checks, how it orders operations, figuring out the cracks in the code. The best speedrunners may as well have a flowchart for getting through any given stage—but rarely is that chart as literal as in Styx: Shards of Darkness.

Annual speedrun fest Summer Games Done Quick is currently underway, and Heat Signature developer Tom Francis spotted a truly bizarre skip in runner Tohelot's Styx run last night (thanks, RPS). It turns out that the game logic for levels is embedded within its own geometry. Figure out how to reach it, and you can stomp your grubby goblin footprints all over it.

"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," explains Tohelot.

These charts are likely a quick and dirty way to help test a level's logic during development, but it effectively lets the runner tell the game he's done a map's objectives without doing them. Since the game often reuses maps, the same chart is often repeated across levels, letting you reuse the skip across a run.

Getting to these charts still requires a bit of work, mind, and Tohelot's co-commentator notes it's often quicker to just outright speedrun a mission as normal. You can catch his full run over on Twitch, with Summer Games Done Quick 2021 still running live until Sunday, July 11.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.