This article was originally posted by CapnMikeM on GamersInBeta.com
Styx: Master of Shadows
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Oct 7, 2014
The Hype: Cyanide’s Styx: Master of Shadows is a stealth infiltration game where players will take on the role of Styx, a goblin living in the world of Humans and Elves. Styx memory is a little foggy to say the least and thus has arrived at the Tower of Akenash to attempt to reach the World Tree, which is the source of amber. To the inhabitants, they believe this golden sap contains powers and magic, thus they guard it with their lives. Styx hopes to regain his memory to learn more about his past while gaining a handsome-sized fortune. Players will engage in many missions during their time in the tower. Along the way, you’ll encounter situations where assassinations will need to be carried out and information will need to be collected to further the story. Players are encouraged to stay in the shadows in this hardcore stealth game and for good reason as the game is difficult.
In Reality: Master of Shadows is a heavy dose of stealth action combined with basic RPG leveling elements. If you like lurking around in the dark and not being able to withstand much more than a blow to the head without dying then this is your game. Styx is not made for slugging it out with the royal guards as he fairs much better patrolling sewers, discovering hidden paths, and pickpocketing the unsuspecting. He is truly a vile creature who is only out for himself. Cyanide has done an admiral job with laying out an adequate story coupled with better than average visuals, for a download only title, and atmospheric music to heighten the tense situations. Although dialogue can quickly become repetitive, especially if stealth is not your strongest suit and thus die over and over again like myself.
Gameplay: When you really break this game down, it’s all about the amber and how it’s the main currency of the game. Styx needs to consume the sappy liquid regularly in order for him to pull off several of his powers such as invisibility, amber vision, and cloning. Players will always need to make sure they have enough on hand to power up Styx or else missions can become difficult quick (easily depicted in my video). Completing missions will grant you progress points which can they be used to level up your skill trees. Attributes such as improvements to stealth, assassinations, and amber-fueled techniques can all be upgraded and incrementally go up in value by 20 points. Upgrading, selecting missions, inventory and other items are all housed at the central hideout in the tower.
During gameplay, Styx movements are pretty spot on. There were zero issues moving him in and out of cover and the same can be said for climbing or descending the tower. Cyanide has also made other trivial tasks like peeping through key holes or picking locks, simple yet enjoyable. Also, one would never think extinguishing wall-mounted torches could be so addicting. More often than not as you progress through the story, you’ll find yourself instinctively putting out these fires, either by hand or throwing sand. Darkness is your friend so it’s best you enjoy the menial task.
Like mentioned before, combat is best to be avoided as Styx can’t take much of a beating, at all. In the rare situations where you find yourself alone with one guard, it is possible to parry his attacks and thus gain the upper hand. However, don’t make this a routine approach. Lurk up behind guards and other inhabitants of the tower to silently take them out. Then it is best to pick up the body and discard of it in a less conspicuous location, like a closest or chest. Moving throughout the tower will take skill and patience. You can use your amber vision to find the path or you can carve out your own, which is often more rewarding. For those who really seek out a challenge with higher stakes, Cyanide has enabled a Goblin mode where there is no chance of redemption or escaping if spotted.
Conclusion: Cyanide is not breaking any new ground with this title but they have crafted a game where there is plenty of content to digest at a more than worthy discounted price tag. Your interest in the game will be dependent on your tastes and how disciplined you are with stealth games. While the AI can be repetitive with their movements and dialogue, the remainder of the game proved to be a challenging experience with a rewarding progression system which furthered our drive to complete missions.