Styx was first introduced in a previous game ‘Of Orcs and Men‘. Now, the lethal little goblin steps into the spotlight with his very own full-length game. Featuring castles, knights, blades and blood, Styx: Master of Shadows attempts to bring a new, but faithful, entry into the stealth game genre. Styx is a tad small, but does the game itself fall short?
Taking place before Of Orcs an Men, Styx is a goblin down on his luck with a severe case of amnesia. We start our adventure with our knee-high hero breaking free from prison and sneaking his way out of the castle walls. Slowly remembering little by little, the game uses this as a tutorial for the player. Styx figures if he can get to the magical “Heart of the World” tree hidden within a massive tower, he can use the power of the tree to regain his memories. The story itself is fairly bland and run-of-the-mill to be honest, but it’s just enough to keep you interested in the lore and background of Styx and the world itself. The game focuses more on the stealth gameplay and it shows.
Different than most stealth titles, Styx is a fairly small goblin, and is really no match in a fight with two or more enemies twice his size. So for the first time in a long while, this game actually requires you to use stealth techniques to progress; on the harder difficulties it’s basically impossible to fight enemies head-on. Hiding under tables, creeping along the rafters, and waiting in the darkness is the key to success, luckily Styx has a selection of tools and powers to help along the way. Putting out torches can help to conceal yourself, and if you can’t get close enough to put them out by hand, Styx can use sand or dirt to toss and extinguish the flames.
Your powers are fueled by ‘Amber’ collected from the Heart of The World tree. Using this allows Styx to summon a clone to do his dirty work and suicide missions, see through walls, and even become temporally invisible. These powers are unlocked as you progress and of course can be upgraded. While these do help you out of tight spots, you can’t rely solely on these powers to complete the game.
I must say this game relies more on stealth than many so-called ‘stealth’ games I’ve played in the past few years. Styx forces you to avoid fights, rather than giving you the option. Some may dislike this, but the stealth genre was originally created in this manner. Regardless of opinion, the gameplay is tight and well polished. Styx controls how you expect him to, and when you do get caught, it’s because you messed up, not the game.
Visually the game looks pretty nice. While the graphics aren’t breathtaking, they are sharp and well textured. The lighting effects are well done and for a digital-only title, it’s pretty impressive overall. The animations are smooth and realistic looking too. Styx climbs and moves about how you picture a goblin would; slinky and fast.
The audio is great as well. With fitting musical scores and large echo-y sounds filling the castles and caves you explore, the game sounds great. The voice-acting is nothing outstanding, but it gets the job done and is performed well enough as not to break immersion. The audio work and the visuals do a fantastic job of creating a better feeling of immersion; making you feel more involved in the world around Styx.
In the end, Styx: Master of the Shadows is a fantastic stealth title that brings more realistic stealth gameplay than some of the biggest names in the industry. Don’t judge Styx by his cover, he’s a goblin with some great character. At a smaller price tag than most full-length PS4 games, Styx: Master of the Shadows really gives you more bang for your buck.