Styx: Master of Shadows Review
As a goblin whose sharpest weapon is his scathing tongue, Styx needs to fly under the radar, much as his game has flown, due to the giant marketing campaigns of AAA developers. Styx has a bag of tricks worth opening up, and fans of traditional hardcore gameplay will be pleasantly surprised.
Styx: Master of Shadows is a recent release in the stealth genre. While Ezio and Company find themselves in huge open battles more often than I'm sure they'd prefer, and even Solid Snake running around with near infinite ammo at times, Styx returns stealth gameplay to it's roots. You may be nimble, but you don't exactly have a lot of health, and have to rely on your stealthy skills to survive. As Styx traverses upward through the Tower of Akenash to reach the top of the World Tree, the shadows are your friend, although they sometimes hide some alarmingly loud mops/brooms/buckets/etc. One slip into the light or against one of these noisemakers turns into an all-out war as everyone in the near vicinity comes to kill. Styx isn't given a lot of battle capabilities: it's basically a quicktime event until you get the option to kill, which proves difficult when three other guards are throwing whatever they have at you, focused on a single ally. This hinderance pushes you to beat the game as it was intended, though, as you lose all capability to just run through the game hacking and slashing. This is further evidenced by Styx's "Goblin Mode", an extremely difficult mode where one nick from an enemy blade results in death.
While Styx does recieve upgrades during his trek up the tower, they never overcome this one flaw. Sure, it might get easier to take out that guard, but if he sees you, you're down to the risk/reward of luring the guard to a place you feel you can parry enough before taking him out and escape to the shadows again. Styx has very few friends in this place, and the more you can stay out of other's way, the better off you are.
Styx is one of those games that, if played outside of the box, you're bound to find some errors. Places that look like you can grab onto aren't grabbable because that's not the way to go, a few sketchy edges and jump styles, etc. But if you follow along the designed path, fun in it's own right, you'll find a wonderfully designed stealth game that feels like they used to: powerless against an insurmountable foe, you figure out a way to overcome without them even knowing you're there. Styx's memorable voice acting and sailor's mouth keeps a fun pace through the game. It's just as fun to progress for the story as it is to see Styx's vulgar reaction to every scenario. Don't let this game slip under your radar.
A review copy of Styx: Master of Shadows was provided for PS4. It can be found on PC and Xbox One as well for $29.99.