There is a lot about fantasy worlds to love.
A game such as that depends on a great story, interesting characters, and good execution. However, in a game, it takes more than just that to make a fantasy world truly great and immersive.
Platform Reviewed: Xbox One
Platforms Available: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Developer: Witching Hour Studios
Publisher: Ysbryd Games
Release Date: August 8, 2017
This review is based on a review copy provided by Witching Hour Studios.
Can Masquerada: Songs and Shadows keep your interest? Is it worth your time and money? Take a look at this review and decide for yourself!
Diving Into the Game:
Masquerada feels much like watching a show from the theaters way back from the times of Renaissance.
In an Italian Renaissance setting fantasy world, you take the role of Cicero Gavar, a war criminal called back to his country to investigate the disappearance of his friend.
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a ripe setting with a desperate city filled with sides fighting with each other for control and power. There are politics in every corner and the bloodshed of lives are always a result of each desperate course of action to take control.
There are many references to songs and masks in relation to the game’s moniker and a huge source of where the characters draw their elemental powers from. This game’s story can be best described as Phantom of the Opera and Fable combined with sprinkles of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The main set up with Masquerada is in its name: it involves masks. At the beginning, you’re thrown into a tutorial that automatically chooses the element water for you. There are a total of four elements that you can choose from: fire, water, air, and earth much like Avatar.
Once you’re done choosing an element, you can then set skill points which you earn in combat for a specific ability. Each skill can have its own route with its own added benefits that you can only choose one along the way, making your choice essential. After a while, you will be able to reset your skill points so you can set them to your liking.
Gamplay is basic, even by the standards of the PS2 era. You can whip out some combos from your skill set that will leave your opponents devastated before they even know what hit them. You can also set the tactics of your AI party but they’re not much to work with and you may find yourself not really touching them at all. There’s really nothing complex about the combat system here.
Equipment is nonexistent. Your characters have their own weapons which they will use and you cannot choose for them. You can choose whether your character is ranged-based or melee-based or even defensive but that’s about it. The only thing that can be considered equipment is the masks which you have to decorate much later on in the story.
There are no potions to speak of as well. You’re not going to be stocking up on items or even shopping at all from a vendor in the game. If you take a hit and you’re low on health, you may have to stay away from the enemies by moving out of the way of their attacks and leaving things to your teammates until your health bar refills. If your team members are down, you have the option to revive them at no cost whatsoever.
The problem with Masquerada is its linear nature. Players will find themselves travelling from Point A to B and then thrown into one battle to the next with no real control. The game chooses to take a more story telling approach than focus on overall gameplay. This may be a problem for some players. There’s nothing here to break away from repetition.
For those who are looking forward to exploration, this game may not be for them. Although it features many exotic locations, it locks its players more often in one area and can only really push forward towards the objective.
Although the background may be pretty, it’s really nothing more than just a background—much like that of a water painting. There are people talking in speech bubbles that can constantly occur for Cicero to eavesdrop, but it is impossible to have any form of interaction with them unless it’s to further the story, and the conversations they hold don’t really add to anything overall.
There are no side quests to speak of. You will run along the main story quest in a straight line. Even inside dungeons, there’s no real places to explore. The path is always straight and linear towards the objective.
Despite its linear nature, Masquerada makes up for it with its amazing story and interesting characters. Even for a game that feels it would fit in the PlayStation 2 era, it still manages to present a good story.
Characters are charming in their own right. The main protagonist, Cicero, is quite fascinating in himself. He has his own motivations and personality. Though you can’t exactly design him or control the way he acts, he does fit the overall atmosphere the game is clearly going for. His background is made purposefully mysterious in order to make him more interesting. You will be seeing things from his point of view.
Although interaction with the world doesn’t really exist, you can learn more about the background of the Masquerada world by reading on the archives which will fill out the further you progress across the story and some you will even pick up yourself.
Masquerada is clearly an interesting game.
But it stands to improve a little bit more. It can get tiring moving from Point A to Point B with nothing to take us away from the main quest. Despite the rich world we’re given, there’s no need for any initiative to explore such a world.
It’s clear that this isn’t a game that people can keep playing for more than a few hours straight without eventually taking a break from listening to characters talk over and over again. It can get tiring and repetitive when having to follow the main story without halt.