Styx Master of Shadows Review

Cyanide Studios goblin themed stealth game is available now on Xbox One, PC and PS4 and offers its own brand of stealth gaming for fans of the genre. However, with so many releases over the coming weeks is this worth picking up? Take a look at our Styx Master of Shadows review for the full picture.

Styx Master of Shadows Review:

Today we’re taking a look at Cyanide Studios stealth game, Styx Master of Shadows which is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. From the offset, Styx is thrust into a flashback mission having been captured and drugged to spill the beans on what he’s up to in the Tower of Akenash. There’s a political situation brewing in the background as a treaty between human and elves looks strained, and so players take up the task of Styx’s own objective which soon progresses into something much more impacting.

Gameplay wise, the game ticks all the right boxes with solid stealth actions where Styx can cling to walls for cover, hide in various items like chests and containers, under tables and such like. Plus there are elements of agility which allows him to scale walls and seek alternate routes to objectives without interacting with the civilian and hostile populace.

In a nutshell, each of the zones across the acts provide a veritable playground for exploration. What is noticeable right from the off is how fragile Styx is in combat. As a smaller character, he’s tough, but only when using sneak attacks. The game makes head on combat virtually impossible where in one on one scenarios there’s a good chance of survival as players parry incoming attacks with the correct timing, then can kill. However, with more than one opponent the locked in combat mode means death is inevitable as the AI queues up to land the finishing blow or shoots arrows from afar. Luckily, Styx is able to evade in a number of ways, most notably early on with the use of a clone. These can be deployed when discovered giving a few moments to quickly hide whilst the enemy is distracted. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s a handy way of escape which otherwise is pretty hard. The game really does make players think about the environment first before wading in, as the verticality is well used here and often means a far easier route despite some of the jumps being a little fiddly resulting in stupid deaths due to poor control and camera.

As players progress through the levels there are points earned for primary and secondary objectives which can then be spent when visiting the hideouts between levels. It’s here where players can improve Styx’s repertoire of moves having lost parts of his memory early on in the game and starting with the basics. There’s some neat additions which make Styx more formidable from within the shadows with things like corner, aerial kills and extra visual senses to spot hidden items and hiding places. The biggest and most useful tool is becoming invisible which makes some of the tougher moments less problematic. There’s even an upgrade for permanent invisibility whilst remaining still which further evens the odds. That said, it’s not a permanent skill to be abused as the game limits use by requiring scarce amber which can be pick-pocketed from guards or found in containers. In this regard the game is fairly balanced despite being quite unforgiving when spotted.

In terms of looks the biggest problem with the game is a lack of diversity in its environments. Aside from a few moments where there’s an extended view outside of the tower, the interiors are mostly dingy and dull which makes for uninspiring levels. Whilst the design is of a high standard offering multiple paths, the visual quality is simply not that great due to a focus on the interior locations. The game does play smoothly, and features reasonable AI but again, there’s a lack of detail when it comes to the repeated character models and animations of the enemy.

The audio remains of a good quality, although there’s a lot of gruff voices which at times makes it hard to tell who is speaking as some characters sound too similar. Styx is voiced reasonably well, but changes tone far too frequently to be consistent. This isn’t too much of an issue during gameplay but does detract a little. Luckily there’s some good ambient music to drive the sneaky moments forwards but is let down by repeated phrases from the patrolling guards if lingering in area for too long.

Gamers will get a fair number of hours from the game with the option to replay the levels once completed at any time at the hideout. It’s here where players can return to look for hidden items, complete missed secondary objects for extra points or take up the challenge of doing a no kill or no detection run. Luckily the game can be manually saved at any time making these additional challenges easier to obtain. A tougher difficulty exists for purists which adds even more frustration into the mix if you’re prone to liking a bit of punishment.

Styx Master of Shadows offers an interesting take on stealth as it borrows elements from the tried and trusted stealth games we all know and love. This is a well designed game that’s somewhat unforgiving as it is brutal and means only purists are going to find much enjoyment from what’s on offer here. Gamers looking for a more action experience might find the lack of offensive capabilities off-putting and therefore will not enjoy being killed over and over again. There’s lots to explore here amongst methodical and slick movements which is only really marred by a lack of overall ambition with the play areas which are simply too uninspiring to be memorable. For the price, this is worth a look, but only if you’re a fan of stealth.

Score 7/10 – Review by Robert Cram

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.

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