*Disclaimer: This is not a completed Review, and as such some things are subject to change with continued playtime.*
Styx: Master of Shadows, takes an interesting approach to the increasingly popular Stealth/infiltration RPG genre, brought to us by Cyanide Studios. Similar to Dishonored and Thief, Styx is a fresh look on how unique you can make an infiltration game.
The story in Styx: Master of Shadows, is well crafted, as you guide Styx, a 200-year-old Goblin, through the expansive Tower of Akenash, in search of the Heart of the Tree, and your lost memories. While a little cliché, the amnesia approach in Styx is implemented well, taking not all of his memories away, and giving him an interesting dynamic in which he has conversations with other voices inside of his head. While on his search for lost memories, Styx looks to make a fortune by taking the Heart of the Tree from the Elves and Governor Barimen. Not having beaten it, I can’t tell you how well it ends, but so far, I’m expecting nothing short of an epic conclusion to the Master of Shadows narrative.
Gameplay in Master of Shadows is unique and offers a new approach to the typical gameplay of infiltration games. For one, stealth really is a large player in this game, because being caught, will very likely lead to your death, as the Humans and Elves that guard the tree and the Tower easily overpower Styx. When caught, he isn’t really capable of fighting back, except with parries that, when done enough times, finally allow you to strike a killing blow; if caught by a group however, put the controller down, because it is near impossible to fight off more than one guard at a time. Styx has a large variety of tools, and powers from the powerful Amber – a powerful golden sap from the tree, with strong magical properties – available to him as well. From sand that lets you put out torches from a distance, to throwing knives that allow you to strategically take out guards. From turning invisible to using a clone to take out a rogue guard. All of these things lend to a fun experience, that doesn’t seem to tire.
Overall, the visuals in this game are beautiful. You are presented with a dark, early-English, fantasy world, that is well designed and leads well to a stealthy feeling game. Lending to the stealth aspect of the game, the developers clearly put a large focus on the lighting in the game. Shadows from torches flicker on the floor, the dynamic shadows from moving objects are well put together, and in total, it looks gorgeous. However, with this in mind, some of the textures could use a little work. For example, a knocked over pot rolling on the ground, looks more like a pot with a small square box around it, that doesn’t really move as naturally as it should. In the long run though, these minor things can be overlooked because the world as a whole is very well put together.
Audio is always a strange thing to talk about. The soundtrack to Styx: Master of Shadows is pleasing, and doesn’t really wear down like many soundtracks these days seem to (I’m looking at you Destiny Menu Theme). Listening to Styx talk to himself is pleasurable and I think that Saul Jephcott really knocked his voice out of the park. On top of these, audio from the game itself is also strong, ambient noises, falling objects, these all sound the way you would imagine, and come together well.
Styx: Master of Shadows offers a unique and fun take on the Infiltration RPG genre. Stunning graphics, a good soundtrack, and solid gameplay all come together to form something that truly show the developers love of their product and that they wanted to create something that players will enjoy. Stay tuned for updates on this review as I continue my trek through the game to the end.
You can purchase Styx: Master of Shadows here for $29.99.
So far, Styx: Master of Shadows has been an enjoyable adventure, that I hope to conclude soon. Stay tuned for more updates.