A Goblin is an unlikely a protagonist as you would ever find in a video game. Traditionally, the small and manipulative creatures find themselves on the wrong end of your hero’s sword, usually with their heads clean off. I think this is why the concept for Styx: Master of Shadows draws me in, even if the stealth genre and myself aren’t currently on the best of terms.
The game takes place in the same world as Of Orcs and Men, where we previously saw an Orc attempt to kill the tyrannical Emperor with the help of his devious Goblin ally, Styx. The events in Master of Shadows however, take place well beforehand as Styx (the first goblin) uses the magic of the world, “Amber” to help him complete his goal of sneaking into the Tower of Akenash and steal the heart of the World-Tree. Protected by Humans and Elves, Styx must make his way up many levels of the miles-high Tower using his mastery of stealth, theft, and murder.
Developer Cyanide is attempting to keep the level structure open to the player, giving plenty of options to tackle different scenarios. The preview we saw played through a single mission in the game, but showed off the many different ways to tackle roaming guards and checkpoints in the Tower. Of course, being a tower, not only does it encompass a large region, but features numerous locations to gain vertical advantages on your foes. One particular section saw Styx lure two guards directly under a crate being hoisted by a crane. You can guess what happened next. Guards will dynamically react to your presence if noticed, so don’t expect to use the same cheap tactics that worked in every other stealth game. A couple moments in the presentation led to a very fast death for the old goblin when the proverbial shit hit the fan.
While the basic Human guards were easy to sneak past, higher ranking soldiers will not be easily fooled. Extinguishing torches are one way to keep the light from revealing your location, but you’ll also want to make as little noise as possible. The use of Amber, separates Styx from many other stealth titles. Using Amber vision, Styx will be able to detect foes and interactive objects in the environment and creating a magical clone of yourself using Amber can provide for some entertaining encounters. One in particular saw a clone distracting a group of guards, while Styx sneaked by unnoticed before exploding the clone at will. Elves on the other hand are less susceptible to Amber tricks since they are able to sense the use of it nearby. The inclusion of experience points allow you to unlock new skills and special moves across 6 different talent trees.
Styx: Master of Shadows is currently being developed by Cyanide studio for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.