What’s cuter then a puppy? It’s definitely not a goblin. Styx is the protagonist in Cyanide Studios prequel to ‘of Orcs and Men’. Styx has been planning and dreaming about the day that he can get his hands on the heart of the World-Tree and the precious power that it contains.
Styx: Master of Shadows is set in the Tower of Akenash a medieval city built high in the branches of the World-Tree. Elves and humans are guarding the powerful golden elixir Styx so desperately seeks. He is outsized and outnumbered so he has no choice but to stick to the shadows.
Styx: Master of Shadows is a stealth game. You play a small and light weight goblin who is more suited to sneaking then he is to brawling.
Pay attention to your environment. Watch where you’re going bumping furniture around will cause guards to come running. This is called a stealth game for a reason and environmental noise matters. Move in a crouched position to quiet your footsteps and sneak while crouched to quite them even more. If you leap from a ledge land on the carpet to quiet the thud of your landing.
Don’t let the locals sound the alarm. You may round a corner to find yourself face to face with a servant busy about their daily work. Servants are all too eager to notify the guards about the monster Styx. You have to silence them quickly! It’s pretty easy to do with the point of your dagger or a throwing knife to the neck of the unlucky servant. Guards are a different story. If you are discovered by a guard a yellow meter appears above his head. If you are able to hide before the meter fills he will think that it was a shadow or a rat. If you find yourself within reach or in his direct line of sight the meter will turn red and you will be locked into combat mode.
There aren’t really any Sword fights in Styx: Master of Shadows. Combat basically consist of you parrying blows until an icon appears indicating that you can kill your aggressor. Make your kills quick and hope there aren’t any other guards near by. Combat with more than one guard at the same time surely means death for Styx.
Styx is armed with a dagger that is meant for assassinations not for combat. You can try to escape if you are not within reach of the guard that discovered you by running and hiding. If you get far enough away the guard will go into search mode and will eventually give up.
While you’re running you better be bobbing and weaving cause every soldier has a crossbow and is deadly accurate with it.
Although this game is not designed to be a combat game the camera angle while locked in combat mode is straight behind Styxs back. It feels awkward and severely limits your field of view. While you are locked in combat with one guard distant guards outside your view will pelt you with crossbow bolts. There’s a dodge feature but, it’s useless if you can’t see the crossbow bolts coming. With your view skewed there is no chance of looking for an escape route. Just lay down and die, get the respawn over with and try again.
Thankfully Styx: Master of Shadows has a forgiving auto save function and you won’t have to worry about the oops I forgot to save syndrome.
The only other thing that I found to cry sissy tears about is that sometimes it’s necessary to drop and grab the ledge you’re standing on. It’s difficult to say the least. I would keep easing toward the edge and Styx would never auto grab he would just fall. Often times into a room full of guards.
Styx has a bit of an RPG element. That is a good thing and helps me feel more vested in the character.
Styx is a good stealth game probably one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
There is something to be said and enjoyment to be found in being forced to play the protagonist as written in the story. Cyanide did right by not allowing the player to force their way through each level focusing more on exploratory content then on button smashing brawls.
There are seven skill trees Stealth, Agility, Cloning, Amber Vision, Equipment, Kill, and Predator. Each one of these skill trees has four skills to choose from giving you plenty of opportunity to shape Styx into the assassin/thief that best suits your play style.
Along with the skills Styx also has several abilities that will help him with his mission.
Cloning is the most innovative of his abilities. Styx is able to cough up a clone of himself at will and you can use the clone in a number of ways. He can grab guards and hold them while Styx quietly kills them. He can be commanded to hide in containers and grab and kill the first guard that walks by. He can explode into a cloud of smoke blinding nearby guards. He can also operate levers and scout ahead without any risk to Styx.
You can use Amber vision to help you spot things in each level that may be of interest or to see things that aren’t visible to the naked eye.
You also have the ability to make yourself invisible for a short time. Just because they don’t see you doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. Be careful when throwing on your cloak of invisibility. Your timer always seems to run out at the wrong time.
You have the ability to know when you are in the dark because your amber scars begin to glow. If the scars aren’t glowing then the guards will see you and be happy to kill you. The controls and camera angles can be clunky at times and you will get frustrated when trying to get through difficult levels. Look around and pay attention to the guards patrols. If you lose your patience and charge into a room you will be killed. If you are successful it is rewarding to know that you slipped past a patrol of guards and they didn’t even know you were there. Later they will find there buddy stuffed in a crate dispatched by a skilled assassin.
Styx is a great game that will keep you engaged until the very end.
If you’re looking for a stealth game, then Styx is the game for you. If you’re looking for a stealth game where you can fix your mistakes with the force of your sword then keep looking. There is no room for mistakes in Styx: Master of Shadows.
Have you played Styx: Master of Shadows? If so then please let us know what you think in the comments section below.