Styx: Master of Shadows (Xbox One) Review

By Leigh Groocock 14.10.2014

Review for Styx: Master of Shadows on Xbox One

Styx: Master of Shadows has finally been released on the Xbox One store and is the second title to be set in Cyanide Studios' 2012 Of Orcs and Men universe. It's a hardcore, brutally difficult stealth game, where even the slightest breeze will knock main character Styx unconscious, set in a vast fantasy world, which contains some of the dumbest people known to man.

Styx, a quick-witted goblin who is a master of sneaking through enemy fortresses undetected and slaughtering even the most powerful knights is the controllable character. The plot is simple: infiltrate the world tree and steal everything that Styx could find useful on his adventures In all fairness, it may not be the most unique of stories, but Styx as a character is hilarious and gives this game a lot of personality, something that most stealth games severely lack.

The darkness is everything when it comes to Styx: Master of Shadows. If caught by the unbelievably dumb AI, they will kill in two or three sword blows, and there is very little one can do to stop it. Thankfully, this can be taken advantage of - hide in the dark, then sneakily and strategically eliminate enemies in the area, earning points to spend on skills, and become even more lethal and agile.

Screenshot for Styx: Master of Shadows on Xbox One

Styx needs to do everything he can to stay in the dark, and it's clear when he's hidden thanks to a handy tattoo on his shoulder, informing that he's well and truly cloaked. Simple indicators above the enemies' heads show how aware the AI is about Styx's location, and whether one of them is about to bury a sword deep inside his brain. It's just a matter of observing the guards' patrol patterns and waiting for that perfect time to strike, hiding the bodies and progressing through the missions.

The AI may be about as dumb as they come, though; as long as Styx is concealed in even the smallest shadows, they'll walk straight past him and his giant, bright orange glowing shoulder. However, if even the tiniest of objects is knocked over, they'll come sprinting from the other side of the world. This is both a blessing and a curse as distractions can easily be created by taking advantage of the environment, but at the same time, accidentally stumbling through objects can result in certain death because of how clumsy the controls are.

Screenshot for Styx: Master of Shadows on Xbox One

Bad movement in any game will make it a poor experience for the user, and in stealth games especially, where precise movements are literally the difference between life and death, it can't be helped but to become insanely frustrated with Styx: Master of Shadows. Clunky movement leads to constant death, usually because of Styx deciding to fall to his death as he refuses to jump to the ledge intended, then repeating the same load screen over and over again until eventually, the game performs the actions that were asked of it. When those sneakier routes through missions are attempted and come off successfully, it's great, but unfortunately, this very rarely happens.

Styx: Master of Shadows can't exactly be criticised for its combat, as from the beginning, it is remarked that this is a hardcore stealth game, but it'd be nice for it to at least be an option. Styx does have the ability to parry enemy blows and eventually kill them ,but this rarely works, and as soon as he is spotted by the enemy, the game may as well just be paused and returned to the nearest checkpoint, as it's almost a certainty the goblin is about to be beaten to a pulp. As soon as enemies are near to Styx (and have spotted him), the camera automatically locks onto the enemy, making escaping them almost impossible.

Screenshot for Styx: Master of Shadows on Xbox One

The general objective that runs throughout each mission in Styx: Master of Shadows simply comes down to getting from point A to point B, usually interacting or stealing a certain object. However, the way in which this can be done is completely each individual's choice. The levels almost always offer dozens of different paths, some involving a lot more skill than others, and most will likely not even spot them until well after the mission has been finished. There may not be that many levels in the game, but each will take a significant amount of time to complete.

After completing a mission, Styx can visit his hideout, which lets him spend hard-earned experience on new abilities or improving his old ones, some of which will make the later, more difficult stages of the game significantly easier, such as the ability to kill from above, create clones to distract enemies, a special vision to see shortcuts, or even become invisible for a short period of time. Even though some skills are much better than others, the RPG/levelling elements are extremely limited.

Screenshot for Styx: Master of Shadows on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The stealth mechanics in Styx: Master of Shadows are bloody fantastic, but the game is completely overshadowed by its poor controls and repetitive scenery, turning what could have been a really enjoyable game into controller-breaking frustration, as an ungodly amount of time is spent repeating the same sequence over and over again, praying that Styx isn't a clumsy mess.

Developer

Cyanide

Publisher

Focus Home Interactive

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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