E3 Impressions – Styx: Master of ShadowsFiled inside: News
So many stealth games lately have placed players in the shoes of oddly honorable thieves or deep-speaking anti-heroes. Not so much in Styx: Master of Shadows.
Styx: Master of Shadows casts you as Styx, the two hundred year-old progenitor of the goblins. Centuries of honing his skills has made him a master of stealth, theft, and murder.
Styx is far from a plucky hero or a gruff ex-military veteran—he’s a greedy creature, dead-set on obtaining riches and finding the source of the Amber, a powerful substance that fuels Styx’s supernatural abilities.
The Amber flows from the Tree, which is protected in the great tower of Akenash, a sprawling structure many miles high. The tower is heavily guarded, of course. Well-armed humans, studied Elves, and other hulking creatures, all of whom would gladly kill you on sight.
Luckily, Styx has plenty of tools at his disposal with which to navigate his environment. At E3, Cyanide Studios showed off a sizable demo of the game, showing off more vast environments, movement and sneaking than you can shake a stick at.
I was immediately struck by the wide-open stage on display in the demo. Even some of the most well-lauded stealth games are fairly constrained. While you certainly have a specific objective to reach, there are a number of paths leading there, all offering different obstacles and threats.
Right away, the demo gets right into the meat of the game. The Amber in Styx’s veins glows when he’s concealed, giving a simple indication as to how noticeable you are. The game is immediately shown to have considerably more depth than luring several guards to some secluded corner to be murdered.
The occupants of Akenash are made to be more than wandering meatbags; guards not only talk with each other about happenings around the area, but follow general patrols, take breaks for water, or relieve themselves—all of which can be exploited in various ways to Styx’s advantage. It’s up to you to decide if a guard is worth killing, or if you should just pick their pockets and let them live.
Much like Splinter Cell and other games of the sort, Styx can extinguish torches to better control the local lighting. Thirsty guard in the way? Puke in the water supply to poison them. Drop from above to kill quickly. Stash bodies in crates. Strike from behind to kill silently (if slowly).
The number of abilities at Styx’s disposal was rather surprising, and what was shown in the demo probably didn’t even represent half of the skills you can learn. There are six different skill trees to explore and build your ideal super-murdery-stealth-goblin with.