Styx: Master of Shadows – Review

Styx: Master of Shadows is easily the best infiltration game in years.

It’s a phenomenal stealth game, blending mechanics of the original Thief games, and aspects of the Hitman series.

The game oozes quality, from the detailed graphics( despite using Unreal 3 ), and mixes in some very atmospheric music, and sounds. It makes you want to play more, and you definitely need to take your time in this game. Watching guards, tracking their movements, and planning your next move.

I’ve been playing on Goblin difficulty, which means you cannot fight anyone head on. They kill you instantly, and they are relentless in hunting you down. Often calling for backup, and placing other guards, or workers on alert.
Once someone has seen you and their weapon is drawn, they are far more alert. Even the smallest sound of dropping down on a stone floor, or even stealth killing someone can set them off. ( Stealth kills are just muffled kills, the victim still makes some noise as you cover their mouth. )

This can be countered by making them think the overall threat has been dealt with. You do this by making a clone and purposely getting him seen, and then killed. Once they kill it, they believe you have been killed. They’ll then sheath their weapon and carry on. Although rarely do guards go back to sleep after being woken in such a manner.
Sometimes the AI can seem a little dumb though, as you can easily sneak by someone and almost touch them without noticing you. Or if they’re a certain distance away can look straight in your direction and not spot you. These were rather rare occurrences though.
In the game darkness is key, you turn out torches as much as you can, either doing so by hand, or throwing spit covered balls of sand. The darker it is the harder it is to be spotted. Thanks to the Amber in your veins you blend in even better.
Although sound is very important as well, if you move over wood, stone, metal, or carpet it all sounds differently, and reacts in different ways. When dropping down from a high aiming for carpet is essential. As it’ll dampen your fall and not alert any guards.

All of these aspects can be upgraded through the Skill Point system, and this is done in the Hideout; which is discovered a bit further into the game after the beginning.
There you can stock up on supplies, and upgrade your much needed Amber skills.
The story is very gripping, and I’ve been having a blast with the game. It plays off as a narration in some aspects, but it’s far more complex and in-depth than people will think at first.
I’m 11 hours in and still playing, still having fun, and still wanting more.
The difficulty blends in brilliant with the game’s mechanics and you can’t just rush through or go on a killing spree. As mentioned, you need to watch, plan, and move.
It goes through a variety of areas, all detailed and extremely good looking. All taking place in the same tower that spans upwards for miles, and miles.
Each time gradually increasing the difficulty, and adding in more foes. Even without playing on Goblin difficulty there are foes you cannot take on, such as Knights, Orcs or Elves. Each of which will kill you in a single strike.
Elves are particularly annoying, even when invisible with amber they can small you and strike at you.

The visuals are very good, and the game has no issues playing in Ultrawide 21:9 aspect monitors. Although sadly all the cutscenes are pre-rendered in 16:9, so multi screen or ultrawide users will suffer from pillar boxing during those.
The lighting, and shadows are particularly good for a game using the Unreal 3 engine, and they’re key to the game’s atmosphere.
Unfortunately the game seems to be framerate locked at 62FPS, most likely due to the consoles, and textures seem to be at 1080p. As moving in closers to a wall at 3440×1440 shows some blurriness on them.

Styx offers quite a bit of replayability, and offers challenges such as finishing missions without being spotted, not killing anyone, or stealing all the gold tokens on the map. You can also  replay missions at any time when in the Hideout through your log book.
As far as stealth and infiltration games go, Styx is one of the best I’ve played in years. Easily besting Assassins Creed, and being up there with the original Thief, Hitman, and Splinter Cell games.
If you’re a fan of any of the mentioned games, or just want to play a brilliant infiltration game; Styx: Master of Shadows is what you want.

 

Written by Al Valentyn

A tech enthusiast with a sweet tooth.

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