Video Game: Of Orcs And Men

"Over the decades of conflict, the orcs were already beginning to figure it out: they were much sought after for their strength and toughness, and so, grinding slavery was always gonna be the result. Submit, or die. Needless to say, for a goblin like me, things were gonna be just as bad... We were there to be had like rats in a trap. Yeah, it's not easy bein' a greenskin on this fucking continent... You've got my sympathy if that's your case."
Styx

An alliance of human kingdoms. An evil horde of orcs and monsters assailing it. A mighty hero rising up to save his beleaguered people. Anyone with even a fleeting grasp of fantasy stories is all too familiar with this old setup. Well, what if, for once, the humans and the orcs switched places?

Don't laugh. You're still the good guy.

Of Orcs And Men is an action RPG developed by Cyanide Studios and Spiders. The plot follows an orc named Arkail who seeks to assassinate the leader of The Empire of Men, who have slaughtered and enslaved his people; he's accompanied by Styx, a self-proclaimed "survivor" and the only goblin known to show any intelligence.

A spin-off, Styx: Master of Shadows was released on October 7, 2014. Taking place before the events of the game, it is a Stealth-Based Game focused on Styx as he steals a magical artifact from humans.

Needs a better summary.

Of Orcs and Men provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Arkail and Styx, definitely. Both are not above the use of unnecessary violence (especially Arkail), performing very questionable actions and associating with shady people to achieve their goals. They are still sympathetic because of their backstories and because they've got enemies worse than them.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: The Inquisition, which among other things imprisons High Mage Arkence on trumped-up charges, forcing Arkail and Styx to break her out.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Patrolling guards will never actually notice a corpse of one of their coworkers that Styx has assassinated.
  • The Berserker: Deconstructed. Arkail's tendency to fly into a rage usually makes it harder for him to fight effectively, as well as making him a generally dangerous person to be around. This plays into gameplay itself, in that while berserk he deals more damage but loses the ability to perform special attacks and is weakened once his rage wears off.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Arkail and Styx, respectively.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Barimen's tenure as Emperor is very short-lived but he has still succeeded in bringing Elves and Dwarves against greenskins, so the future for the Orcs is still not bright; however, they have finally revolted en masse against the human oppression, and the destruction of the Emperor's Tower has send a powerful message, so there is hope for them, and Styx has decided to stay at Arkail's side.
  • Black and Gray Morality: A given with the setting. Some of the actions performed by Arkail and Styx during the game are something you'd rather expect from a villain, especially the burning of the chapel, but their are enemies are much worse people than them.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Sarkyss sends Arkail and Styx on a mission that leaves many disciples of the Zealot dead; when the Zealot offers a hefty reward for their heads, Sarkyss sets up a trap to have the heroes captured by the Inquistion, so that he can collect the money.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The protagonist's speech is very colorful to say the least. It becomes amusing when they converse with some other characters who are much more polite (but don't seem particularly fazed by that).
  • Crapsack World: The setting is especially bad for orcs, who are sistematically persecuted, enslaved, and forced to be assimilated. Many humans, however, don't live much better: you can meet a lot of them living in shantytowns, and the ancient order of the Mages is persecuted by the Inquistion. To survive one must be either very violent or very cunning; backstabbing is common.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Styx through-and-through.
    Styx: (Upon being asked to assassinate a number of Orc lookouts on his own) Yeah, yeah, I get the picture. Let the Goblin do it! He's cute, but expendable.
  • Didn't Think This Through: During the first act, Raven attempts to run away - Styx throws a knife at him with the intent to keep him from running, but ends up killing him.
    Arkail: What, you couldn't go for the legs? Now what do we do?
    Styx: Hey, I'm a professional! It's not my fault I've got reflexes!
  • The Empire: Weirdly it's actually more like The Alliance; the various human kingdoms on the continent that serves as the game's setting all united together under a single crown, rather than the Empire growing through conquest, though they did build a massive wall to separate their own lands from the rest of the continent.
  • Enslaved Orcs
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Zealot is one really dangerous fanatic, but seems to honestly care for his disciples: he's devastated when he sees the chapel burning, and tries to save them, ending up with half his face burned.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humans (and assimilated orcs) tend to look down on free and rebellious orcs, and vice versa.
  • Fantastic Slur: Arkail loves them, particularly "rakash" (which he apparently says in Orcish because it lacks a sufficiently-pejorative translation).
    • From Master of Shadows one can infer that "rakash" might mean something along the lines of "worthless thing," as it is used by Styx towards his clones.
  • Fastball Special: A way to reach out-of-reach archers.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Arkail and Styx fill the Fighter and Thief niche respectively. Later on, Styx can take the Shadowgoblin specialization that lets him perform magical attacks.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Styx and Arkail have this type of relationship with each other.
  • Flechette Storm: Styx has a couple of attacks along these lines.
  • Got Me Doing It: Lampshaded by Styx during the Hulk Speak segment.
    Arkail: Why Garok sad?
    Styx: Shit, Ark', now you're doing it! Styx disgusted!
  • Hulk Speak: Garok, an orc in the mire, talks this way due to an old brain injury.
  • It's Personal: After they burn the chapel with his disciples inside, the Zealot has no other goal than pursuing Arkail and Styx, to the point he doesn't care what happens to the Empire: he, in fact, despises Barimen and lets Arkail drop him from the Tower so that no one can disturb their fight.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Styx and Arkail perform one to save High Mage Arkence's consciousness. Both also end up confronting their darkest memories.
  • Karmic Death: The fate of Sarkyss, who'd conducted brutal experiments on feral Goblins in an effort to understand why Styx is different. He's strapped down and has one of the caged Goblins set loose on him.
  • Klingon Promotion: How Arkail becomes Head Foreman of The Mire.
  • Knife Nut: Styx uses a pair of daggers for melee combat and throwing knives at range.
  • La Résistance: The heroes are working alongside a human resistance to bring down the empire.
  • Last of His Kind: The Last is the only remaining member of his clan, the rest having been slaughtered by the Empire. Subverted if you defeat him in battle; he passes the mantle onto Arkail, allowing his clan to be preserved. Braggart also claims to have been a member of the clan as a child, out hunting when they were attacked, but this may or may not be true.
  • Mind Rape: The Inquisition tortured High Mage Arkence until her consciousness was entirely suppressed. The Archmage openly refers to the benevolent Journey to the Center of the Mind done to heal her as mental rape, as well, since it's still pushing against her mind's defenses.
  • Monster Progenitor: Styx, originally an orc, became the first goblin through overuse of black magic and fathered the rest. Master of Shadows reveals that the Styx we know isn't even the original and is instead a duplicate created by Styx Prime that he infused more magic into than usual.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Strangely, Styx is the only goblin to show intelligence on par with an orc or human; all the others are animalistic and lack any grasp of language. This is because he's the first goblin - originally an orc - and the others are his imperfect spawn.
  • Prestige Class: Later on, Arkail and Styx can take specializations depending on how they resolve their inner demons. Arkail can become either a Berserker or a Master while Styx can become either an Assassin or a Shadowgoblin.
  • Precision F-Strike: Styx, several times.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Orcs in general and Arkail in particular.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: The older, streetwise Styx, though Arkail is stubborn and violent (and unfamiliar with the territory) rather than stupid.
  • Shout-Out: The "I'm a Killer" achievement, awarded for assassinating 47 enemies as Styx.
  • Smug Snake: Barimen, after he reveals he manipulated all factions for his goals - namely become Emperor himself and getting Elves and Dwarves to join in the campaign against greenskins.
  • The Dung Ages: The lower-class human areas are anything but pretty (being a more or less constant barrage of rain, mud and sewers), and one of the traitor orcs has a rant about living conditions for free/traditional orc tribes that doesn't sound much better. Goblins, of course, live in filth and garbage. Only very wealthy humans, the Sisters of Laments and the Order of Mages seem to have it particularly good in this setting. And even then it's mostly the very wealthy - the latter simply aren't covered in dirt.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Emperor was merely a puppet of Barimen, who lets him be killed by Arkail: all Barimen needed him for was to die at the right place and at the right time, to set his plan to take his place in motion.
  • The Quisling: Quite a few orcs have assimilated into the Empire rather than even offer token resistance, but the ultimate example is Marhlok, Arkail's father, who sold his entire tribe into slavery and seems to show no remorse for it. Which is subverted. While he doesn't regret his choice, he only did it to prevent a mass execution then and there and is now the leader of the resistance in the Mire.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The central premise of the game, where the Greenskins are subjected to genocidal tactics by the Human kingdom.
  • Your Mom: Styx busts out a pretty good one when on the way to kill the Head Foreman.
    Styx: Yeah, I can talk! And you weren't even a tadpole when I was whispering sweet nothings in your ugly mother's ear. What, she didn't tell you about me, son?

Styx: Master of Shadows contains examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Possible for each level, but you have to know the game really good to get a crack at this. To pull it off, you have to earn all 4 Marks for each level: for not raising an alarm; for not killing any guards (ghostly elf-skulls and mutant cockroaches don't count, as well as targets of secondary objective); for completing the whole level under a certain time; and for stealing all the coins (each stage of each level, except the prologue stage, has ten of them).
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Justified. Ventilation shafts and pipes are way too small for a human to crawl through, but when the Atrium was built, there was no such thing in existence as a goblin.
  • Big Bad: As it turns out, the main villain is the original Styx, who wishes to use the Amber Heart to turn himself back into an Orc.
  • Expendable Clone: Styx's duplicates are treated as largely expendable, with Styx himself making a point of treating them as little more than tools. Unfortunately, he himself is this.
  • Genre Shift: Rather than an RPG, the game is primarily a stealth game with a limited upgrade system.
  • Le Parkour: Similar to Assassin's Creed, Styx can climb upon fixtures and walls to stay out of sight. Unlike that series however, platforming is much less rigid, meaning that you're given much more freedom in movement.
  • Me's a Crowd: Styx can create clones that can crawl through certain gates, scout areas ahead, distract guards and can even be upgraded to serve as living smoke bombs.
  • Pacifist Run: Entirely possible, though significantly harder to pull off than killing guards. You even get bonus skill points for this.
  • Prequel: The game takes place before Of Orcs and Men.
  • Star Scraper: While the Tower of Akenash looks to be about the same height as today's tallest buildings, it is significantly wider: the interior vertically houses an entire medieval city, and the horizontal distances are closer to that of a town than a building. Furthermore, the Tower still extends some distance underground.

Alternative Title(s):

Styx Master Of Shadows