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Styx: Master of Shadows Review

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Styx: Master of Shadows is a rather interesting game. If you’ve kept in touch with Cyanide Studios’ other titles, you will recognize the main character as the same goblin in Of Orcs and Men. This game takes place before OOAM where Styx infiltrates the human stronghold. However, this is a very different game. It is all about stealth, and not about that combat at all. This is one of the more ambitious games Cyanide Studios has taken on, and the final product is sort of hit and miss. Here’s our Styx: Master of Shadows review!

Styx is the only one of his kind. He happens to be a master of stealth, given his size and affinity to a mysterious substance known as Amber. Amber comes from a tree that the humans have decided to wall off to the world so they could harvest Amber for themselves with the help of the Elves. The alliance is shaky, though, and Styx is just the “person” to break that alliance and get what he wants: more Amber.

The story is pretty good. Even if you know nothing about Of Orcs and Men. The reverse perspective offered is quite unique. Humans are destroying the land, exploiting the Elves and enslaving Orcs. Styx is the only/pure Goblin. The story is told through flashbacks after Styx is captured by the humans. Normally I would have an issue with this but there are multiple endings depending on if you kill people, or don’t, or make specific decisions. I believe there are at least 4 endings total.

However, the story and relatively bad voice acting is not the problem, the gameplay is. Styx is very difficult to control with a keyboard and mouse. This game was made for a controller. Jumping is incredibly floaty and almost gives you too much room to grab onto hooks or ledges. Using powers is also a chore because they are mapped to the number keys, moving with WASD while also trying to manage your stealth, and clone, and any other ability in the midst of trying to get away from a fight is a chore. When played with a controller, everything sort of falls into place, except the jumping stuff. That’s still a pain to deal with.

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The enemy AI is also pretty terrible. They lose interest in seeing a comrade dead on the ground and they are easily distracted. I understand making an intelligent AI for a stealth game is difficult, but it should not be so easy to exploit. When you play on the hardest difficulty, however, the AI is a bit more unforgiving if that is your sort of thing.

There are some positive aspects to Styx: MoS‘s gameplay. One of which is the brilliant level design. There are so many places to hide and climb, you would probably get lost without having a quest marker. A lot of the environment is interactive as well. You can hide bodies in cabinets or knock over a chair and alert nearby guards, which is pretty cool. The levels are small and quaint, but there is a hideout in every level to find. There are multiple ways, high and low, to get to the objective. Exploring is also pretty fun, because if there is a door, odds are you can unlock it, and you will want to unlock it.

The character progression is also pretty great. You earn skill points by completing missions and these will be used to give you new skills or modify existing ones. What makes the skill tree cool is that it’s actually relatively small and simple. It’s rather difficult at first though. Styx’s lack of stealthy prowess in early levels makes slipping past guards somewhat challenging. Styx is no fighter, and that is made evident by his stature and lack of weaponry. When playing on the Goblin difficulty you cannot fight. On lower difficulties you can kind of fight, but you have to time your attacks with the enemy’s to parry. Depending on the type of enemy, it could require 1 or 5 parries to get the option to kill. When you are surrounded, odds are you will not win any fights. Combat should always be a last resort. I like how the game forces you to stay in the shadows and doesn’t give you the option to murder everyone, like most stealth games these days (Thief 2014 and Dishonored).

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Cutscene animations are glitchy and kind of comedic at times, which is a shame because it really kills the mood of the game. Other than that, the art direction is awesome. Styx: MoS has something to offer in terms of story and even gameplay, but it’s drastically hindered by clunky controls and a floaty parkour system. I found it really tough to play the game because of the horrendously slow start and challenging controls, but the story was there to help it along which is probably the game’s saving grace. People who want a high octane action game should stay away, but patient gamers who love to find clever way to kill enemies and outwit them will enjoy the game’s Goblin mode. You can pick the game up on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam now.

About Zach Martinez

Freelancer here at Armed Gamer, North American Video Game Correspondent for Following the Nerd, and a regular on Examiner.com, Zach has made somewhat of a name for himself at the age of 23. He has been writing professionally for just over 5 years now. He doesn't care about resolution or frames per second, he cares about what matters most, the games. You can reach reach him directly at zach.martinez09395@yahoo.com.

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