Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is the debut PC title of Singapore’s Witching Hour Studios and it is making its way to console and I’ve had the opportunity to give the game a go on the Playstation 4.
So Masquerada is set in the Citte of Ombre, which has a clear Venetian feel too it’s design and is divided by class. At the top are the Masquerada, with access to Mascherines, masks that grant their wearers magical powers. The game’s tutorial takes place after a man called Cicero Gavar uses his position to gift a large amount of Mascherines to the lower class Contadani, starting a rebellion. Players are introduced to the combat through Cicero whilst the rebellion takes place.
Following on from the tutorial the game takes us forward five years following the exile of Cicero. He has been invited to return home in exchange for investigating the disappearance of an old friend who has been researching the Mascherines.
I’m gonna jump straight in here and let you all know well in advance that the game is linear, and I absolutely mean linear – you’re actions in the game have no consequence on the development of the story. It’s so linear that you can’t even speak to characters in the streets of the citte, there are no side quests, and you will also not find any shops to find new equipment and the game offers no character customization what so ever.
With that out of the way I can tell you that the story telling of the game is fantastic and it beautifully navigates you through the civil war and a mystical, ancient history full of intrigue and tragedy. Cicero along with his four companions will confront their enemies in real-time combat with tactical pause.
The story it self-moves along at a fairly nice pace, with plenty of twists and turns that is supported with a wondrous amount of lore. This is helped by an all-star voice acting cast including the likes of Felicia Day, Matt Mercer, Jennifer Gale, Dave Fennoy and Ashly Burch – which is pretty impressive right!
Whilst the story is great and inviting – the same unfortunately cannot be said for the combat system. Yes I know it is real-time combat with tactical pause which helps a lot when you need to come up with a strategy to combat your enemies. However it quickly comes down to a free for all (at least for me most of the time) If you wish to exercise direct control over your party members then be prepared to make use of the tactical pause quite often.
Utilising the respective skill trees of Cicero and his allies, they can activate elemental combos to decimate their foes. Such as if you attack an enemy with a water spell that has a debuff on them from an earth spell it will cause them to become stunned.
Trying to target individual enemies can at times be a pain, and encounters on the whole are not that interesting. The various boss fights do add something a little different for combat, but on the whole most fights to play our very similarly.
The overall art of Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is beautiful (to me at least) As I mentioned above it does have a Venetian feel to it which is found in the overall aesthetics in the design of the various locals of the game and the characters apparel. The soundtrack of the game is really well done and throughout our wandering the accompany melodies help set a Venetian ambience. Be sure to check out the in game menu for the opera song!
Overall would I recommend this to someone who’s looking for an RPG to play – I would have to say not likely, unless that person is looking for a game that has a rich and original lore that you are taken by the hand and guided through. I would describe this as a game that once you finished you will put it back on the shelf.
However, a new game mode, that of New Game+ will see its debut on Xbox One and PS4, whilst also hitting home on PC at the same time via a free update. It’ll add new scenes, an extended dialogue, new fights and a giant chicken boss! So for those of you who have already had the pleasure of enjoying this story it may well be time to take one more trip to the Citte of Ombre.