Have Game, Will Play: Styx: Master of Shadows

A small, yet spry, goblin named Styx is confused, headache prone and determined to thwart an alliance between elves and humans to extract amber from the World-Tree. This tree is the only source of the strange yet powerful amber that humans cannot safely expose themselves to. Styx: Master of Shadows is a pure stealth game. Pure in the sense that the actual combat, while executable, is quite challenging to the extent that is seems like the developer doesn’t want you to view it as a reliable option. However the game’s subtitle is very appropriate. Styx can use the shadows to steal, stealth, murder and creep his way from objective to objective.

The joy of Styx was entering a huge environment and just figuring out what to do. Even when a waypoint is only 50-60 feet away it might take you awhile to get over there. Death and failure can await you for a variety of reasons. Soldiers, archers and poor maneuvering can get you every time. Snatching a soldier around a corner and quickly hiding their body in a bureau or chest right after the perfect stealthy sequence can make Styx feel great. Performing stealthy kills, leaving no bodies to be found and using your cloning ability will get you skill points. These points can be used in your hideout to augment and gain a wide variety of abilities.

Styx does have some drawbacks. One being what I can only assume is Styx’s deadly allergy to ropes and chains. There are ‘X’ shaped metal fixtures in many walls that allow Styx to quick scale to greater heights. There are are also many ropes and chains hanging from areas you hope reach – why he cannot interact with any of them is beyond me. The AI or lack thereof was also annoying. Enemies were either brain dead or too perceptive – no grey area. Thankfully there are visual indicators to let you know just how much an enemy can sense your presence. Trial and error are inescapable, as are the loading screens. You can save anywhere and you will probably read every loading screen tip numerous times as you will constantly reload a save to do things correctly.

Styx: Master of Shadows launched at exactly half the cost of a new retail console game. This is a double-edged sword. The graphics, mechanics and certainly the AI don’t scream new gen but I that didn’t stop me from really enjoying it. But its visuals also probably won’t help to get a ‘pass’ for having that indie charm. It is not a brief experience either. It may be a little too long. Ultimately Styx: Master of Shadows is rough in many areas but it delivers fun stealth in unapologetic doses.

Recommendation: Worth a buy – if you really like old school stealth games
Full Disclosure: The Xbox One version of this game was provided to GameEnthus by the publisher.
Genre: stealth with occasional optional action
Developer: Cyanide
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform(s): PC, Steam, PS4, Xbox One
Price: $29.99

Links
http://www.styx-thegame.com/
http://www.cyanide-studio.com/games/styx/
http://GameEnthus.com
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/gameenthus-podcast-video-games/id286435007?mt=2

Scale:
Worth a buy – paying full price for fans of the series or genre makes sense – often includes a caveat
Worth a buy on sale – not quite full price worthy but close, – often includes a caveat
No – borrow it if you must play it
Please no – Don’t waste any time and/or money on it