There's a song in the air!
I recently received a review code for the game, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows from the folks at Ysbryd Games/Witching Hour Studios. When I was at Pax East this year, I was able to play the game for the first time and put it through a test run in Boston. After seeing what the game was all about, I knew I wanted to see the full version of it and put in through its paces.
At the start of the game, like most games, you get an introduction trailer that shows off how beautiful the game looks. The trailer, which you’ll be able to watch by selecting it from the main menu, will also teach you the basis of the game in cinematic form for all of us to enjoy.Trust me when I say that there is a lot of information to gather and retain in this game so anywhere you can skip reading something is ok with me!
Before you start playing Masquerada, you’ll have the ability to set the options for your play through. You’ll set the difficulty for the game as “Story mode” or easy, Normal, or Hard and these are the pretty straightforward difficulty settings you’d expect in an RPG like this.
You should start out by playing the Prologue chapter by selecting it in the main menu where you’ll get the grasp of the game and the controls. In laymen’s terms this is the tutorial chapter where you’ll learn how to play the game and how to survive later in the game. You’ll also learn attacks as well as combos and basic patterns while in the Prologue chapter.
The game moves ahead with the story in chapters and like I mentioned before, there is a lot of information to gather and retain. Long story short, you play the role of Cicero who has been mysteriously summoned back to Ombre to figure out what has happened to Razitof Azrus. Ciciro was exiled five years earlier for crimes against the state. If you want more into the story, you’ll have to play the game and find out what happened.
There are plenty of Role Playing Game elements in Masquerada right from the start where you select your Mascherine. Those are the masks you wear in game that have elemental powers linked to them. Near the start of your investigation, you need to pick what elemental you’ll play the game as.
This will pick what special attacks you’ll have to choose from in your special attack branch system when you learn new attacks. During battle, you’ll have four attacks that you can use and each one takes time to recover and use again. Depending on what part of the game you’re in will dictate how many party members you’ll have to fight alongside of you. You will have to figure out what attacks hurt, which enemies because certain elemental attacks only do damage to certain enemies so be on guard for that.
Team combos can also be used to help secure victory for your team in battle but again, you’ll have to learn which attacks do the most damage and can actually be used in a combo. You’ll be able to use your mask in battle but it takes time to recover so you’ll have to pick your moments for the perfect strike. After certain battles, you’ll gain experience that can be used to level up as well as learn new attacks/unlock new branches in the skill tree. The combo system is rather complicated but you learn how to perform it in the Prologue chapter but it does feel like it takes a lot to learn/master.
You really should never be lost in the game because on the map there is a red exclamation point that points you in the right direction. There is a green beacon that leads you in the right direction for story events, yellow lead to actions and purple lead to information. The information goes to your lore book and you never know what information could come in handy later down the road so collect everything you can find!
Masquerada looks fantastic and it should since it’s made on the Unity engine. The game is story based(heavily), and a game that relies on story needs good writing and voice work. Luckily, Masquerada has that in spades as the game has serious sections as well as some great jokes. It also has great voice acting with the likes of Jennifer Hale, Matt Mercer, and Felicia Day, just to name a few.
The game screams ancient Venice but at the same time, feels like a modern TV show. The cut scenes remind me a lot of the Tales From The Borderlands style, a style that jumps off the page and looks like a cell shaded comic book! Everything comes together in just the right way and it’s these reasons that I’m giving Masquerada: Songs and Shadows for the PlayStation 4 an 8.5/10. I would like to thank Ysbryd Games and Witching Hour Studios for the Review material.