By Joe Sigadel / March 13th, 2017
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, from developer Witching Hour Studios, is a turn-based isometric RPG with a grand story to tell. It takes place in a fictional fantasy Venetian city where those who have magical masks called Mascherines (the Masquerada) wield power over poor and downtrodden underclassmen (the Contadani). This ongoing inequality sparks a rebellion and civil war, where the Contadani have fought an ongoing battle ever since. Masquerada is quite story heavy and uses a lot of voiced dialogue, which is quite good and features well-known voice talents such as Matthew Mercer and Jennifer Hale. Another remarkable feature of Masquerada is that the environments and characters are hand drawn and impressively detailed to boot, as you’ll note in the screenshots here.
As in similar types of RPGs, Masquerada uses a turn-based tactical system at the core of its combat gameplay. The general idea is to chain together elements in a certain order to cause status effects to your enemies, which makes crowd control easier. For instance, after casting an earth spell, you can then use a water spell to create mud to hinder your enemies’ movement. Each of your three companions commands a specific element and stance (think character classes), but the main character, Cicero, can swap elements and stances at will. In addition to this, you can also modify your skills which allows you to choose between offensive and defensive variations, depending on your playstyle and needs. Positioning also plays a big role in Masquerada’s encounters. Both your allies and enemies have protection from physical or magical attacks, but flanking an enemy will do more damage, and hitting them from behind will damage them for the maximum amount.
I was quite impressed with Masquerada’s natural-sounding dialogue that seemed quite fitting, given the setting. The quality of the voice acting is superb, which I think is owed to the various talents behind the characters. There was a real sense of drama and conflict going on, even in the brief prologue demo I played. The cutscenes play out in a fashion similar to a graphic novel, complementing the stylized art everywhere you see. Everything about it is visually stunning and draws your attention.
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is currently available on Steam and the Humble Store for $24.99.
CRPGMasquerada: Songs and ShadowsPCSteamWitching Hour StudiosYsbryd Games