This game is one of the greatest underappreciated gems I have had the pleasure of finding in a long time. There are obvious things that sully the experience a bit, but given this is the effort of small studio on a tight budget these aren't hard to look past.
The story takes a twist on typical fantasy by having orcs being oppressed and subjegated by humans, and in light of this, your main character is on a quest to kill the emperor who seeks to unite elves and dwarves against "the greenskins."
The main character is Arkence, or the "butcher" as he has been dubbed after a bloody masacre in his past. What's great here is that this story element actually works into the gameplay. As you take damage your rage meter builds, and if you don't use skills to keep your calm he becomes enraged. In this state, he more powerful but reckless and uncontrollable, attacking foes in random order.
Evening this out is his original odd couple partner in crime, Styx. He is a goblin assassin, the only one of his race who can speak or display any intelligence at all. He causes bleeds, poisons and lowers defense in combat, and out of combat he small stealth sections where he dispatches as many soldiers as he can before things eventually fall to pieces.
The story is well surprisingly well written considering every other line of dialogue has a swear word, because it fits into the narrative and general feeling of the story. I was honestly surprized at myself when I started the characters, admiring the way the duo chirped eachother and eventually grew into a like-minded friendship. Combat slows down when you pause so you can plan each of their actions, and everything works quite well. The graphics are nice enough and the game has a surprizingly good soundtrack that hits all the right notes when a sad or intense situation takes rise.
Sadly, there are some issues, though they are just a lot of nitpicks that don't effect the solid feel of gameplay. Character models don't sync up in most cutscenes, a weapon constantly floats in air against Ark's back, voice acting apart from the main duo is largely sub-par. You are told of great battles going on in other places due to what's happening in the story and can't be there because the budget game wouldn't allow it, and some people might not like how the stealth sections work. You essentially sneak around and kill guards in order of which would be able to see the act from their FOV, the ai will walk past dead bodies without raising alarm which seems silly but is also necessary to that element of gameplay. This is a stop motion turn based rpg first, the stealth is more like a small minigame that you are never actually forced to do that makes fights easier.
Past that, there are a bunch of sidequests which never feel pointless as the duo banter and you find out more meaningful things about the story. I'm not usually someone who likes sidequests but it worked well for me. You have a mission hub in different zones and when you pick a mission it is generally linear except for a few hidden treasures. There's a couple of choices to be made in the game that have small outcomes on story, but nothing with permanance.
All and all, the flaws take you out of the experience in a small fathom but do little to stop this extremely charming game from taking your heart. The prequel, Styx:Master of shadows is out soon, and I can't wait to delve again into this world again, and see how much the studio has grown since their time between the titles.
9/10 There's nitpicks, but the story, the gameplay and the pacing are all great and a low budget doesn't change that.