Review: Styx: Master of Shadows

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Styx: Master of Shadows

Styx: Master of Shadows
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Cost
$29.99
Format
Digital
Size
6.48 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, Steam
Release Date
10/8/14
Developer
Cyanide
Publisher
Focus Home Interactive
Modes
Single Player

Styx is a stealth game that is billed as a story prequel to Of Orc and Men. You play Styx, the first Goblin, who was one of the NPC characters in Of Orc and Men as he tells his story of trying to steal the heart of the World Tree. Styx: Master of Shadows is told over 8 missions and is a digital only game that costs $30 on Xbox ONE. Each mission runs about 30 or so minutes but takes about 2 to 3 hours each because of the shear number of deaths and reloads. Being a stealth game though if you follow someone’s perfect guide its going to go a lot faster. Digital only games over $15 are a hard sell as people are just getting used to the idea that on the ONE there is no distinction. There are just games, big and small, cheap and not so cheap. So does Styx: Master of Shadows have enough quality gameplay to justify the $30 price?

Styx is a pure stealth game in that there is no run and gun option. You can kill enemies in stealthy manners, like from behind or hidden from a chest, but direct confrontation is a recipe for death. When you are seen and attacked you have to successfully parry several attacks, with the harder the enemy the more parries needed, before you are given a direct kill option. Which seems fine since you are just a little hunched over Goblin and not made for direct contact with Humans UNTIL you see Styx pick up these fallen enemies and just toss them about like rag dolls so he definitely has the strength to just win any battle. So chalk that up to a thematic choice to keep with the straight up stealth style of the game but a blunder none the less. The thing that Styx excels at is little touches that other stealh games miss out on. The biggest is accidents. Accidents don’t count against you and don’t make guards freak out and instantly start searching for a spy in their midst. Don’t get me wrong, they react, but in a realistic fashion. Worried about what happened, but not insane about it. Noise levels are handled extremely well. Knocking over broom and kicking pots is going to make some noise and get people investigating as it should.

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As far as the story is concerned, let’s play a drinking game. Every time Styx has a line of dialogue where he mentions his headache, take a drink. You’ll be dead before the end of the first mission. The story is told in cutscenes and in game audio dialogue. The story does luckily pick up in the first mission but it’s presented in a weird fashion. The opening level story is told in a in-game rendered cutscene. This is followed up by in-game dialogue as you go through the mission. But after you finish a mission the wrap up, which is technically a continuation of opening story, is told with audio over paintings. It just comes off weird because it’s all part of the same scene where Styx is relaying the story so why such a huge change in style? Then we start the next mission and it’s back to cutscene.

So what does Styx add to the stealth genre? The whole game is about finding and drinking Amber to power Styx’s abilities with the main ability being that Styx can clone himself and use the clone for various activities. Most of which revolve around the clone being able to squeeze through small areas to activate doors for Styx to go through. The big problem with the clones is that only Styx or the clone can act at once. If you need to move Styx, the clone is just standing around waiting. Then you have Styx wait while the clone moves. There is no go do this while I do this other thing. The clones has 4 abilities but the best abilities are all attack oriented and this is in a non-combat oriented stealth game. This leave you with using the clone as distraction so you can sneak past. The thing that is nice is the game doesn’t count clone alerts against you for the sake of stealth. All in all the clones felt like more of a hindrance and kind of gimicky then something that helped me move forward in the game mainly because of the time it take to switch between the two. The guards would already be in the process of resetting before I could even get Styx to start to try to sneak past them.

This comes to Styx: Master of Shadows best point. Pathing. There are a multitude of ways to get from A to B in this game. There is almost always ways up, through, or under any obstacle. Some are quite obvious, but the best ones need to be scouted and discovered. Your Amber Vision points out things that can be grabbed and showcases graphical hints that certain ways may lead to collectibles or simpler travels. One of the issues with the game is Styx’s movement through these levels. Since we are going for stealth precise jumps are extremely important to the game to navigate the ledges above the enemies, Styx’s movement through the game is kind of stiff. I find myself saving quite a bit as even the slightest misstep could send you 4 levels down to either your direct death, a crowd of enemies, or just the inconvenience of having to do everything over again. When most of the best routes are above the ground it adds a false level of difficulty just based on how awful the jumping is.

Styx uses the Unreal engine for graphics and it’s presented in what I would call a dumbed down Dishonored. They have a very similar look but Dishonored was just so much crisper. Styx also suffers highly from the Stormtrooper problem. There only seems to be 4 or 5 guards models so you’ll be stabbing or sneaking past the same guy about a billion times. The lip sync on cutscenes is also just enough off to be distracting. The graphics are definitely above average, just not as clean as I’ve know the Unreal Engine can be. The levels themselves are pretty good looking and are extremely varied so although the enemies repeat, the level design is fresh.

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Styx does feature a skills progression system. There are 5 categories and each category contains 4 upgrades. When you complete objectives in the game or finish a mission with special criteria, like no alerts or no deaths, you earn Skill Points. You can spend these back at your Hideout between missions to improve Styx. Things like producing less noise, using a visions ability to find collectibles or being able to do a death from above kill. You can also upgrade your clone so that he can grab enemies for you to run up and get the quick kill or even cooler is you can place a clone in a chest or closet and he will kill any enemies that happen to wonder by. Besides the 4 clone abilities they are all typical stealth skills that every single stealth game in the universe is using.

The collectibles are horrible. Each level seems to have 10 Tokens / Coins you need to find per section. These must be found in one playthough of a mission to unlock the thief insignia for that level. Until you get all the tokens in all sections of a level restarting a mission will reset your progress for that level. I’m sure people will come up with 100% stealth, no kill, get all coins videos but for your average gamer you are going to be doing a lot of playthroughs of a mission to get everything completed. Most of the coins are right next to enemies almost forcing you go on the attack if you want to get them all.

All in all Styx is a fine game and a generally good time. It simply doesn’t push the stealth genre to anything new or exciting. If you come to Styx as a Run and Gunner stealth player you’re going to have a hard time adjusting to this sneaky combat system. You’re going to die a lot. This game is set up more towards Outlast where you are punished for being seen. It is possible to escape and hide, in fact like most stealth game enemies give up pretty quick [like seriously? If you see an enemy combatant in your base you just figure you were day dreaming if you don’t catch him in 2 minutes? This is ALL stealth games], but the name of the game is stealth. If you are a pure stealth fan than it is worth the $30.

NOTE: If you are playing Styx and need help we do have an Achievement Guide right here on GameGuideCentral!

PROS:
1) Strong level design
2) Strong stealth mechanics

CONS:
1) Minimal enemy differences
2) Large sections of non-precise jumping

7.5
Good

 

Achievement Guide: Styx: Master of Shadows

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Styx: Master of Shadows
Skill Based Achievements

These all require you to earn enough SP to unlock them by completing objectives and earning insignias in missions. Then you can spend the SP on skills while at the hideout.

Wrong turn – 15gs – Kill an enemy with a covered kill

Skill KILL – then it’s the first ability, COVERED KILL. It costs 40 SP. Simply use RT to hug a wall, as a guard walks past you will get the option to use X to do a kill.

Goblin-tossing – 15gs – Kill an enemy with an aerial kill

Skill KILL – then it’s the second ability, AERIAL KILL. It costs 60 SP. Then get above an enemy and jump towards them. While in the air hit X to perform a aerial kill.

Dodge this – 15gs – Kill an enemy who was bound by a clone

Skill CLONING – then it’s the first ability, BIND. It’s costs 30 SP.
When you get close to a enemy as a clone you can press X to Bind them. Then switch to Styx and run over and kill the guard while he tries to wrestle your clone off.

Suicide mission – 30gs – Eliminate a guard with a booby trapped clone

Skill CLONING – then it’s the second ability, POUNCE
Spawn a clone and then have them enter a closet or chest. Then either wait for a guard to wander by on his own or alert him and lead him to your clone.

Like looking through a wall – 30gs – Manage to disable three guards, or more, inside a clone’s smoke bomb


The 3rd ability in the Clone skill tree is an Advanced Smoke Bomb that will make this easier to get. Then round up 3 guards, set off the smoke bomb before they can kill your clone. That’s it. I thought you had to eliminate the guards but it unlocks right as you set off the smoke bomb.

Reload Based Achievements

All of these can be accomplished once you find a suitable spot by saving your game, doing the requirement once and then reloading and starting over. All of these will also of course unlock over the course of the game but you wouldn’t be reading an achievement guide if you didn’t want your achievements ASAP.

Army of clones – 15gs – Create 30 clones
Expendable – 15gs – Let 15 clones die
Unquenched thirst – 15gs – Drink 20 vials of amber

You should work on these 3 together. Make sure you have 2 Amber Vials and save the game near a guard. Summon a Clone with LT+A getting 1 create. Run the clone into a guard getting 1 death. Then drink 1 potion for Unquenched. Do that pattern once more, then reload.

Born in the shadow – 15gs – Extinguish 30 torches

Some flames can be extinguished just by walking up to them and pressing Y. You can also use the Sand item to extinguish from a distance. This is not something you need to worry about though. You will get near the entire 30 just in the opening mission if you makes sure to do it every chance you get. There are some flames that can not be extinguished.

Passkey – 15gs – Unlock 20 doors

Lots of doors in the Intro mission. If you really really really want this one bad just save before a door. Unlock and open it, reload, repeat, etc.

Sticky-fingered – 90gs – Pick pocket 15 guards
Sharpshooter – 30gs – Kill more than 40 guards with throwing knives (secret)

You will visually see if a guard has an item you can pickpocket. If they do get close and hit Y to grab it. You have to have room for the item to be able to grab it. Also, if you kill the guard first the item is destroyed.
Near the start of the second mission, Akenash’s Atrium, there is a guard going up and down some long stairs that has a Throwing Knife to pickpocket. He’s on the right side of the level right near a wooden platform you can hide under. Have one on you when you get here so you have room to pickpocket one. Save the game and then use it on him and another nearby guard. 1 Pickpocket and 2 Throwing Knife kills.

Sudden Silence… – 30gs – Kill 50 enemies without making noise (secret)

Only the Muffled Kills you get from sneaking up on an enemy and holding Y count for this achievement.

Serial Killer – 30gs – Eliminate 200 enemies (secret)

Throwing Knifes, Chandeliers, Muffled Kills. Whatever you want to use. Just make sure it adds up to 200.

Outstanding duelist – Kill 20 enemies in duel (secret)

Any open combat is considered a duel. Simply Parry until you get the Kill with X option.

One Time Achievements

All of these are for doing specific requirements at a specific time. We’ll tell you an easy place to do them. You just go there and do it!

Music Lover – 15gs – You looked at the World Tree a bit too long… (secret)


Intro mission Reminiscence. Right after you get your dagger you will come out and face the World Tree. Climb up to the first beam and head out to the edge looking at the World Tree and a song will start. It’s about 2 minutes. Just wait out the song for the achievement to unlock.

Watch out below! – 15gs – Kill two or more enemies by making a chandelier drop on them


Mission 1: Akenash’s Atrium, Section 1. You will be given a sub quest by your friend in the hideout to kill Godebert. You will find him on the way through the mission conveniently standing under a crate. Simply climb the sacks beside him and unfasten the crates. It will kill both Godebert and his friend giving you the achievement but since his friend also dies it will count against No Kills.

Indigestion – 15gs – Kill an enemy by poisoning the food


Mission 1: Akenash’s Atrium, Section 3. As you start to follow Ector you will go up some stairs. At the top is a food bag you can Poison. Then move slowly towards the 2 guards we are talking. When they finish talking one with path around and eat the food and after a bit drop dead giving you the achievement. Reload to a previous save if you are going for no kills.

Dose of His Own Medicine – 30gs – Kill a torturer in a duel (secret)


First one I found was in mission 3, Deliverance in Section 3, Laboratories. You will come to a section that is most definitely a torture chamber. Save the game before engaging the enemies. There was a basic white robed enemy, a black robed torturer and a knight. I throwing knifed the basic enemy and engaged the torturer to a duel. Once he was down the achievement unlocked. Then die to the knight and reload so you don’t have a kill on this mission.

Goblin snack – 15gs – Give an orc one of your clones to eat


Immediately after the torturer area in Deliverance – Laboratories you are introduced to orcs. Simply create a clone and walk it up to a orc in a cell. The orc will reach through and grab it and achievement unlocked.

Mission Achievements

These all relate to finishing missions in specific ways. For the most part you want to try for no alerts, no kills for your first run. Then murder everyone to get them out of the way and search for those tokens.

Reminiscences – 15gs – Finish the introduction
Akenash’s Atrium – 15gs – Finish Mission 1
Master key – 15gs – Finish Mission 2
Deliverance – 15gs – Finish Mission 3
The creator – 15gs – Finish Mission 4
The architect – 15gs – Finish Mission 5
Conflagration – 15gs – Finish Mission 6
Renaissance – 90gs – Finish Mission 7 (secret)

These all will unlock at the ending stat screen for the missions.

My precious – 90gs – Gather all the treasures


This is for getting all the Relics in the game. Each mission contains one Relic. Under the Pause menu you can tab over to the Relic section and get a visual clue as to where the Relic is in the level.

Tidy up your room! – 15gs – No body found during a mission

This is fairly simple on any mission because you can save and reload as much as you want. Very easy during the Intro mission. Obviously if you are going for a no kill run then you get this since there were no bodies to be found. If you do have to kill someone just make sure to hid the body in any of the billion hiding spots that are everywhere.

Great power… – 90gs – Unlock all skills

You will need ALL of the available SP for this. 1330 SP to fully unlock the first 6 sets of skills. The Predator set unlocks by completing 2 complete sets of skills. This set contain 4 really powerful abilities but cost you another 990 SP. You must complete ALL side objectives and ALL Insignias for this. Every single point is required.
Check out our separate page for Insignia Video Guides right here: Insignia Guide: Styx: Master of Shadows

Pretentious – 30gs – Do not use any item during a mission

I did this on Mission 2, Master Key. Just don’t use any items. You can call your Clone, but don’t drink any Amber, don’t drink any Life, etc, etc.

Unseen, unknown – 100gs – Unlock the Insignia of the Shadow for each mission

There are 4 Insignias you can earn at the end of each mission. This includes Reminiscences, the intro. Shadow is for have no alerts triggered. Only RED alarms matter. You can go Yellow and Orange all you want. You can use a TON of saves and just reload if you get seen. If you miss it on the first playthrough of a mission when you replay in the pause menu you can see how many alerts you have set off. Only Human and Elf alarms matter and alarms for your clone don’t count against you. Although not mentioned, Clone alerts on The Creator and Renaissance count against you also.

Insignia Guide: Styx: Master of Shadows

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Styx: Master of Shadows
Great power… – 90gs – Unlock all skills

So you want to unlock all the skills and get the full 1000gs in Styx: Master of Shadows? Well you need to complete every single side-objective and every single Insignia (Shadow, Mercy, Swiftness and Thief) and you will JUST have enough SP. So here is a little guide to getting all of the Insignias.

Your best bet is going to be doing 2 runs at each level.
Your first run is to get Shadow, Mercy and Swiftness. Get the levels done quickly with no alerts and no kills.
Your second run is to get Side Objectives, Relics, and the Tokens. A lot of the Side Objectives take precious time and doing them without alerts or kills can be anywhere from hard to impossible.

Shadow, Mercy & Swiftness

Found this YouTuber who is doing full runs getting all three Insignias.

REMINISCENCES

AKENASH’S ATRIUM

MASTER KEY

DELIVERANCE

THE CREATOR

THE ARCHITECT

CONFLAGRATION

RENAISSANCE

Thief, Side Objectives & Relics

Once unlocked, the Predator skill Omniscience (300 skill points), allows you to see all tokens and enemies even through walls. Here are some videos we’ve been working on showing the exact locations of all the Tokens. Work In Progress. We’ll try to get everything uploaded ASAP.

ALL RELICS

REMINISCENCES

AKENASH’S ATRIUM