Garrett The Goblin: Styx Got Its Fantasy RPG In My Thief

By Nathan Grayson on January 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 am.

I don't know you guys. I think Eidos has finally taken its Garrett reinvention a little too far

Credit where credit’s due: Cyanide is a deceptively productive studio, not to mention a rather ambitious one considering the constraints it works under. It might not be the biggest-budget operation, but the French wearer of many hats and waver of many national flags has recently produced a not-entirely-terrible Game of Thrones RPG, Impire, Dungeonbowl, and Of Orcs & Men. The latter, while depressingly flawed, is most relevant here given that Styx: Master of Shadows presumably takes place in the same world. It stars fleet-footed, dagger-tongued goblin Styx, who is apparently the Very First Of All Goblins. The game will be a mix of extremely vertical stealth and fantasy role-playing, which sounds downright fascinating.

There’s just one problem, and I’ll let Jim’s Of Orcs & Men WIT take it from here: “The game is essentially a series of stealth-then-fight setpieces. This would be fine, except it’s a terrible stealth game.” That, um, doesn’t bode particularly well.

Here’s how Styx: Master of Shadows will work:

“Battle your way to the top of the lofty Tower of Akenash through immense and vertiginous levels that highlight the vertical perspective. You will complete numerous missions with various objectives as you climb up – murder, information recovery, theft of precious artifacts, etc – and gradually reconstruct the puzzle that provides the key to the mystery of your origins. The levels are open and the objectives can be completed in various ways: you are therefore free to choose the best way to proceed and the most suitable strategy to employ to achieve and complete your mission objectives. But remember you’re a Goblin: if your target is twice your size, or more, you’re better off eliminating them silently. And in the back!”

“Styx: Master of Shadows also includes game mechanics right out of RPG, so as you gain experience you will unlock new skills, special and impressive moves and new and lethal weapons in 6 talent trees! You will also acquire extraordinary powers from the Amber flowing from the Source Tree which will help you out of a tight spot, make you invisible to the eyes of your enemies and which you can use to generate ‘disposable’ clones of yourself! Explore every inch of the levels and not only will you uncover clues about your past but also, and more importantly, valuable treasure that you can steal from under the noses and beards of the guards in the Tower of Akenash!”

As ever, Cyanide’s ideas sound well-intentioned and rather unique. Open levels ripe for the stealthing, an interesting physical disadvantage, and a largely vertical game world? Yes please. Unfortunately, it’s strong execution that’s constantly eluded the developer – often by painfully narrow margins – and Of Orcs & Men’s rather lackluster stealth didn’t set a strong precedent for this one.

I really want this to be great, but I know better than to get my hopes up. Whether its due to budget/time constraints or visions they don’t quite have the ability to realize, Cyanide continues to be its own worst poison. I wish them the best and it seems like they’re creeping ever closer to a great RPG, but I will remain ever skeptical.

Styx will be out sometime this year. Does it register as any more than a blip on your magical radar?

, , , .

22 Comments »

  1. J Arcane says:

    Cyanide seems like a company that has an amazing game in them, but can never quite get the time to make it. They have to get the next game out to keep the lights on, which means development always stops short of the polish it needs to really shine.

  2. GamesInquirer says:

    Hmm, not optimistic about all that murder stuff and all the screens being third person. At least this one isn’t ruining a classic series, but still it could have been the Thief alternative we needed. Well, there is always The Dark Mod, I guess. Cyanide have made a good game, Aarklash: Legacy. WIT it. It’s not an RPG though (this doesn’t sound like one either), it’s all about RTWP strategy, like Icewind Dale.

    • Eggman says:

      Agree, Aarklash has excellent combat. On difficulty set above normal, it’s like running difficult MMO dungeons, but you control all 4 heroes. Really need teamwork to survive. Not that many individual skills to keep track of, but lovely synergies to try out, and the skill trees are resettable at will.

      Graphics and art was nice too,but yeah, not much story to speak of. But it’s selling for 8.40$ on gog, so it’s hard to complain about lacking AAA elements.

    • MarkB says:

      I was going to say the same thing. Aarklash is a fantastic game, best use of RTWP I’ve seen in quite a while.

  3. BobbyDylan says:

    Looks interesting.
    *Adds to watch list*

  4. karthink says:

    When I started reading:

    “But remember you’re a Goblin: if your target is twice your size, or more,”

    I thought it would go “you’re better off sneaking past them!”

    And was a little disappointed. It was all downhill from there.

    I always get Cyanide and Focus Home Interactive mixed up, because they both make not-quite AAA games that are equal parts panned and shrugged away. Just found out it wasn’t Cyanide that made Mars: War Logs.

    • Premium User Badge

      slerbal says:

      I had the exact same reaction and mentally scrubbed it off the list of ‘games to keep half-an-eye on’ :(

      • Sian says:

        Why? In most fiction, goblins will kill adversaries given the chance, not sneak past them. They’re nasty little buggers. If anything, a goblin acting alone and relatively brave should put you off if you’re a traditionalist, but certainly not the fact that he’d engage in some backstabbing so that the stabbee won’t attack him later.

    • Convolvulus says:

      I’m sure you can avoid enemies, but it’d be kind of pointless to sneak past a “target” if the mission objective is murder.

    • Keyrock says:

      Focus Home Interactive is a publisher. Cyanide is a developer.

  5. Sian says:

    We don’t get enough games with goblin protagonists, so I’m looking forward to this, even though I’ve played a bit of Of Orcs & Men. I don’t know why, but I have a soft spot for Cyanide and am ever hopeful that, one day, they’ll make a great game and that this very next game they are making will be the one. Or something like that.

  6. Lemming says:

    That’s one Warhammery-looking Goblin.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Yes.

      It’s beautiful, isn’t it.

      • Merijeek says:

        Yes, well, the way Games Workshop is going that might not be a concern for a whole lot longer.

  7. Blackcompany says:

    I really want Cyanide games to be good. I mean, they’ve got the ideas and creativity. More than I can say for a number of larger, more well-funded studios. And they have the guts to keep trying even in the face of past failures. Which is truly admirable.

    But they just never seem to ‘get there’ with their games. I genuinely hope they do, one day. One thing I want them to realize: Either give us real time, live action combat with some impact and weight…or just go turn based. Please, please, no more hybridized systems.

    • Keyrock says:

      I disagree. I loved the combat system in Of Orcs and Men. I thought it worked really well.

  8. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    They either need a new engine or a massive gameplay revamp (for all their future games). It’s just too stilted and archaic.

  9. DatonKallandor says:

    Everybody always forgets the one Cyanide game that was perfect. Aarklash Legacy.

    • Convolvulus says:

      Two people complimented it before you did.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        Okay. The greater consciousness of game connoisseurs always forgets Aarklash Legacy.

  10. Keyrock says:

    I actually really liked Of Orcs and Men, despite its many flaws. Styx was EASILY the more interesting of the two protagonists, however I will fully agree that the stealth mechanics in that game were pretty pitiful. Seeing as this new game is being built entirely around stealth, hopefully they put a lot more effort into revamping the stealth mechanics. I’m assuming this will be made by Spiders also, like the previous game?

  11. SillyWizard says:

    Game mechanics right out of RPG?! That is my favorite game mechanics!

    Sign me up.