Styx: Master of Shadows - Xbox One

Release Date:

October 08, 2014

Also on:

Xbox One PC PS4

Viewing USA:

Also on UK.
7.0

Summary:

On the whole Styx: Master of Shadows on the Xbox One is a gorgeous game that fully takes advantage of a surging genre. Still, there are some actual problems in the game. While the AI in Master of Shadows isn’t impossibly difficult, they are a little too accurate with their ranged weapons.

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Details

  • Developer(s):
    • Cyanide
  • Publisher(s):
    • Focus Home Interactive
  • Distributor(s):
    • Xbox One Store
  • Release Date(s):
    • October 8, 2014
  • ESRB Rating:
    • Mature
  • Player(s):
    • 1
  • Online Player(s):
    • N/A

Technical Information

  • Required Disc Space:
    • 6.48GB Minimum
  • Engine:
    • Unreal Engine 3
  • Game Format:
    • Digital Download
avatar name

Posted:
2015-07-18

Jamie_Hall

Writer

Xbox One

7.0

Styx: Master of Shadows on the Xbox One was developed by the team at Cyanide and later released by Focus Home Interactive. As a stealth game with science fiction elements, creepy creatures, and an almost Skyrim like blend of fantasy lore we couldn’t have been more happy to add the title to our digital library for the Xbox One. Original and alluring IP is hard to come by in our age of remakes, reboots, and knocks so Styx had a lot going for it before we even picked up the controller. Thankfully the action that comes afterward is pretty stellar and the title works. Keep reading to see just how good Styx: Master of Shadows actually is.

The stealth genre has been working its way up the popularity list for quite awhile. With games like Splinter Cell and Assassins Creed paving the way, Styx: Master of Shadows was able to find an avenue of success to follow. With that being said I never really found myself yearning for the genre until I took a bite out of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Since then everything has changed, and for the better. So with all of the elements involved that I had grown to love, stealth and fantasy primarily, I picked up the title and dropped onto my couch as I was determined to have a good time. Fortunately I didn’t have to work very hard for it.

If you are vaguely aware of the name Styx then you might be familiar with Cyanide Studios previous efforts, Orcs and Men as well as Blood Bowl. Styx: Master of Shadows is actually a prequel to the less popular, though slightly cultish game, Orcas and Men. I have never played OAM but apparently there is a pretty deep lore connection there. If you enjoy Styx perhaps backtrack and give that title a shot as well. With that said, let’s talk about Styx.

Styx is a goblin and not just another goblin to be killed off like in all of Tolkien’s work. Styx actually has a personality. He is over 200 years old and he has made his living by being a thief and a dangerous and deadly assassin. In short, Styx knows what he is doing. The game is set primarily within the Tower of Akenash and that tower is built inside of a magical tree that oozes Amber. Amber in Master of Shadows isn’t what you think it is. Instead, this golden liquid gives people incredible abilities. Styx wants to get to the heart of this magical tree and steal the source of the amber. One problem: the tree is protected by both humans and elves, and the two are in an uneasy alliance with one another as they are focused on keeping the tree safe.

While Styx is predominantly the only man you can count on, you will run across various allies around the tree. However don’t expect them to pick up a blade and fight with you, that isn’t their game. Instead your allies offer information, items, and helpful hints to keep you going in the right direction. Outside of that you have to rely on Styx’s abilities which become more and more powerful as the game progresses. There are twenty total skills that you will eventually be able to utilize.

The biggest issue with stealth games is that they too easily make your character unstoppable. In Assassins Creed and Shadows of Mordor you became invincible the moment that you learned how to string together combos. It would take literal armies to take down your but kicking assassin. That isn’t how stealth games should work. In Styx this trope is thankfully subverted. You aren’t the chosen one. You aren’t a tank. And you aren’t able to outfight hordes of enemies. Instead you have to rely on your stealth skills.

There are multiple difficulty settings for the game: Goblin Mode and Parrying Mode. In Goblin mode if you are captured then you are pretty much dead. In Parrying Mode you are able to fight back against enemies once they spot you and get their hands on you. The former mode makes more of an emphasis on stealth, making it the primary focus of the game, the latter mode allows for moments of Assassins Creed inspired violence. We liked the hardcore Goblin mode because it made the game unique. Besides, the hand to hand combat stuff isn’t done well enough that we felt like we were missing out via sacrificing it. If you want to get a different taste you can change the setting from your pause menu.

So either difficulty setting that you choose will lend itself to some pretty harsh realities pretty quickly. If you are detected then a mad dash will ensue and escape is almost impossibly difficult. Melee combat is routinely not an option and will result in your death. So move slow, with patience, and with your next move always ruminating in the back of your mind.

Graphically Styx: Master of Shadows oozes personality. While much of our time is spent within the Tree, there are moments that take us out into the world that Styx inhabits. Full of European and med evil style cathedrals as well as steampunk inspired airships, Styx is living the high fantasy life. Character models look fully detailed and gorgeously textured and Styx himself looks completely unique. Orcs and Goblins and all other manner of 'dark creature' typically get the shaft when it comes to character design. This isn’t the case in Master of Shadows.

Still, there are some actual problems in the game. While the AI in Master of Shadows isn’t impossibly difficult, they are a little too accurate with their ranged weapons. In Goblin Mode it only takes two hits from a ranged weapon in order for you to die. So getting quick killed by a pair of flying knives, when you shouldn’t have been in range, is pretty frustrating.

On the whole Styx: Master of Shadows on the Xbox One is a gorgeous game that fully takes advantage of a surging genre.

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By:

Focus Home Interactive

Release Date:

October 08, 2014

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