Greetings nation! Today we’re going to discuss the stealth game Styx: Master of Shadows and the overall feel of the game. From what I could tell Styx went for an Assassin’s Creed feel and hit it pretty squarely on the head. The game has great medieval landscapes, though graphically it isn’t anything to write home about. Textures sometimes seemed out of place in the game in different areas.
Set in a crazy fantasy medieval wonderland, the world of Styx is expansive, yet dark. Primarily the player will control the crafty goblin Styx who is in search of the heart of a World-Tree inside the Tower of Akenash. Styx is the first of his kind, a master in stealth, thievery, and murder. Ironically enough the World Tree essentially belongs to the elves, but Styx seeks the heart of the tree for his own financial gain and to try to figure out where he came from.
Thematically Styx is a very fitting game for a stealth based game. The dark, dank bellows of the tower really give the player a sense of scale as Styx sneaks about. Lighting has a major hand in gameplay but also adds an element of danger, offering a distinct contrast from most other games where light usually represents a safe-zone or sanctuary from impending threats. Instead in Styx, darkness is your ally. You were born in the darkness, molded by it… you didn’t see the light of day until you were a goblin and by that time it was BLINDING…
Fans of the Assassin’s creed franchise will most likely find a home in Styx. Controls are based around sneaking and solving puzzles to progress all the while taking out various enemy types as stealthily as possible. The assassination mechanics are relatively straightforward: sneak up behind a character, hold down the attack button for a muffled kill, or consequentially go for an aerial assault and take out a target from above. An interesting mechanic that I did not expect to see was the ability of guards and patrolmen to detect dead bodies. Upon seeing said bodies, the guards will go into a heightened state and pick up on subtle movements and noises.
As mentioned above light plays a big role in the game. To help sneak around areas Styx is able to cut torches and muffle light in order to keep himself concealed while sneaking around rooms and maneuvering into hideaways and different elevations. Some torches are placed out of reach and could pose a risk of walking into their light radius. Thankfully, Styx can use a combination of sand and spit (because high tech) to knock out torches from a distance. Consumables are usually in short supply so tactically using your items is a big part of the game.
Due to Styx’s size, direct combat is usually a poor option. Your opponents are mostly human and tower over you so to effectively fight back you must use correct timing in parrying attacks to tire your adversaries out, then strike. Styx has a few magical abilities such as invisibility, “Amber vision” which essentially highlights enemies and paths, and cloning which allows Styx to control another body to either solve puzzles or distract guards. The abilities are helpful and do tie in pretty well to overall gameplay to help maneuver through traps and guards.
Controls and handling for Styx are a bit mixed. From what I’ve been able to dig up about the game before a big update the ledge detection and jumping controls were a mess. Old videos show players clearly in range of grabbing a ledge or hang point, yet falling quickly to their death due to the inability of Styx to grab the very visible ledge in front of him. Post update I didn’t really notice any of those issues being prevalent. I highly recommend playing this game with a controller rather than a keyboard as the controls don’t feel very intuitive on the keys.
Styx felt like a game that had a great chance to be a fantastic stealth game but just fell short due to the issues with the initial control scheme. I think many players were turned off by issues on launch which caused the game to be back-burnered by the gaming community. Overall I felt the combat as a bit lackluster, but in a game that focuses on stealth that would be expected.