09th Oct2014

‘Styx: Master of Shadows’ Review (PC)

by Paul Metcalf

Styx-09

I’m not a fan of stealth in games, my style is more to find the shortest route and blast my way through or stay at a distance and use sniping skills to take out my enemies. This is probably why it seems weird for me to review Styx: Master of Shadows, one of the most unforgiving stealth games I’ve played in a long time.

Styx is a prequel to Of Orcs and Men (a game I will admit to not playing yet), but people who have will probably already know Styx, the foul-mouthed little goblin from that game. This is a prequel that takes place about 200 years prior to that game and we see Styx making his way through the Tower of Akenash with the aim of finding the world tree and stealing its heart, the source of amber, a magical liquid that just luckily enough provides Styx with the powers he needs to find his way into the tower. Though it does give him a mean headache too.

Styx: Master of Shadows is unforgiving in its expectations on the player to be stealthy. Styx can be a good assassin, especially with a few skill upgrades but this has to be done through guile and sneaking. If you are spotted and more than one human moves in for the attack you are dead. The best bet in this situation is to run, but annoying if you are attacked you find yourself locked into a battle where you must parry the attacks on you before you have the chance to attack. Timing is essential but it does feel good to get that kill.

Another unforgiving mechanic in the game is Styx’s ability to hang onto ledges. There are many time you’ll try to make a jump and find yourself not making it, but this is part of the exploration and experimental nature of finding different routes to your destination. There are a few ways to find your way and it does feel that the humans react realistically to your attempts to get their attentions, and seeing them deviate from their routine as they become agitated knowing you are close is something that becomes very useful when finding your chance to kill.

The main thing about Styx: Master of Shadows is patience, as with all stealth games. With planning and a bit of luck it is possible to get to your destination and there is a proud feeling when you make it. With added side missions such as assassinations that can add skill points to your tally, it also feels good to be able to shape Styx’s strengths to your game play style. My choice for example was to add strength to not only his stealth powers but also assassination skills, clearing out areas of the humans feels very satisfying if it’s possible. There are times though when you must not be seen at any cost, even having a body discovered can send you back to your last saved game. On that subject Styx: Master of Shadows is surprisingly forgiving with, you can save as many times as you want, which can be useful with tricky spots.

Styx: Master of Shadows is a good-looking game, but it can be annoying when you struggle to get past a certain point, or get pulled into battles. With a variety of enemies to fight I didn’t find myself getting bored, though I did take breaks from the annoyance at times. Though I played it on a PC I would recommend playing on a controller (I used an Xbox 360 one) as the control system is unforgiving as mentioned. For fans of stealth this is well worth a try, and for people like me who sometimes get the need to at least give stealth a try? Styx: Master of Shadows is a surprisingly good but very tough game to start with, but to succeed in it is very rewarding.

****½  4.5/5

Styx: Master of Shadows is available on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4 now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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