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Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review

Feathered hats, dark secrets, pointy swords, painted masks, and sharp wit can best describe Masquerada: Songs and Shadows. A Venetian fantasy tactical RPG with more dialogue than pantaloons; and there are a lot of pantaloons.

Developed by Witching Hour Studios and reaching its Kickstarter goal, Masquerada features a deep world rich with story and lore. The title delivers most of its narrative through well voiced dialogue and animated comic book cutscenes. The majority of your time playing will be spent listening to characters converse with each other, this is made a joy with the well written script and characters with a lot of depth to them. Following the story of protagonist, Cicero Gavar, a charming, intelligent swashbuckler that has returned from his exile to solve a dangerous and mysterious case. Government plots and shadowy dealings are set to the backdrop of a civil war between the Masquerada; the rich aristocratic society, and the lower class Contadani. This conflict brings attention to themes of oppression and freedom.The war centres around the ownership of Mascherines, masks that grant the wearer power over fire, water, earth and air. The Masquerada use these masks to stay in power while leaving the Contadani to fend for themselves. Dotted throughout the landscape are slices of lore relevant to the location, giving the player the option to read and learn more about the place they are in and the factions that control it. Supporting the narrative is a stunning soundtrack consisting of 40 songs, each fitting to their environment and place. Despite the quality of the tracks I found myself dialling down the volume as I found the music to be a little intrusive during the adventuring parts of gameplay, bringing the default volume down to a background level of music made the experience more enjoyable.

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Thoroughly impressed with the depth that the story provides, I am glad to say that the tactical combat is just as detailed, a playground of skills and abilities that combo with the different elements each member of your party wields. The skill tree can seem a little daunting at first, the player may have four active skills, each with their own upgrade tree that changes how they function. Combat is real time and fast paced, switching between characters can get confusing but thankfully there is the option to pause time and manually command each member of your party. AI take control of party members immediately as you switch between them, this can be a little frustrating when they instantly use an ability you were hoping to combo with, however the party menu allows for assigning behaviours to each skill, meaning they will only perform that particular skill when certain parameters are met. The combat gradually increases with its difficulty, I found myself having to revive fallen comrades more often as I progressed and relying less on the AI to control my teammates. Positioning and combos become more important as you face-off against multiple foes, taking down priority targets while managing the aggro on your teammates is as challenging as it is fun.

Exploring the world of Masquerada reveals a beautifully detailed world, a unique clean crisp art style and interesting character designs keeps the game feeling fresh and new. My personal favourite is the design of the Fey, creatures that take the form of their surroundings. A Fey that is in a library will resemble books and scrolls, or a Fey that lives in forests will take on the appearance of trees and plants. An unexpected detail is physics on small objects such as bottles and crates that make the world feel a little less static as Cicero makes his way through busy market places and streets. Controlling Cicero is easy and smooth, objects and walls that would conceal Cicero become transparent so you never lose track of our plucky protagonist. The constant stream of dialogue is enough to keep you entertained despite the lack of interactivity within the environment. The only issue with these environments is they are sandwiched between loading screens. While these loading screens do not take very long they are frequent enough to stagger the otherwise smooth pacing of the game.

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Copious amounts of story content occasionally broken up by challenging tactical combat will keep you entertained for hours. Masquerada is a beautiful game with fantastic well written characters and a plethora of story content. If you’re the type that likes to take their time and absorb themselves in the world then Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is the game for you.

8.50/10 8½

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Copious amounts of story content occasionally broken up by challenging tactical combat will keep you entertained for hours. Masquerada is a beautiful game with fantastic well written characters and a plethora of story content. If you’re the type that likes to take their time and absorb themselves in the world then Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is the game for you.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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COMMENTS

NikholaiChan
NikholaiChan - 12:22am, 11th September 2017

This is such a pretty looking game! 

Reply
LittleBigBoots
LittleBigBoots - 05:07pm, 14th September 2017 Author

At first I thought it looked quite flat but it really comes to life once you get playing.

Reply