A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Styx: Master of Shadows is a downloadable stealth adventure game. The main character is a thieving goblin who's only interested in stealing the heart of the World Tree, and he'll kill anyone in his way. There's lots of strong language ("f--k" and "s--t") and splattering blood and gore. Players can take the stealth route, assassinating guards from the shadows. This includes poisoning enemies, slitting throats, and silently eliminating opponents by leaping onto unsuspecting victims and plunging daggers into their backs. Direct clashes will result in lots of gushing wounds and splayed bodies.
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What's it about?
STYX: MASTER OF SHADOWS is a prequel to 2012's Of Orcs and Men; it tells the story of Styx, the first goblin, who's a master thief and assassin. In the Tower of Akenash is the World Tree, the source of a power that can impart wealth and power. Styx, who isn't certain of his origins, is drawn by voices to steal the heart of the tree. He finds allies in humans who dislike the elves guarding the tree, but he's loyal only to himself and not above playing one side against the other.
Is it any good?
Styx: Master of Shadows can be hit or miss. The stealth elements are excellent, and the game looks amazing, even if it's a bit on the dark side. Combat graphics and stealth movement are handled well, but Styx falls short because actual combat controls feel stiff and cumbersome. Fights require precise timing to deflect and then counterattack enemies; fail, and you restart the mission. Fortunately, there's more than one way to negotiate a level, so you can avoid fighting.
The language can be profane, but the voice acting is very well done. Also, the game relies on tried-and-true platform-type actions, such as climbing walls and leaping from one outcropping to another, which may be familiar to gamers but could also become repetitive. You may be prompted to hide behind barrels only to find out that these provide inadequate cover and you're suddenly the center of attention for several well-aimed blades. Even so, Styx: Master of Shadows is a bit surprising and worth checking out -- especially for those RPG lovers who like the challenge of a stealth-based game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the violence in stealth games like Styx: Master of Shadows is gratuitous. Stealth games focus on sneaking around, but when combat occurs, it's usually brutal. Should games like these include graphic combat, or should players be forced to restart when they get detected?
Discuss the concept of alliances. What's the advantage of teaming up with others to accomplish your goals? What are the disadvantages?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Focus Home Interactive
- Release date: October 7, 2014
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Violence, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.