Witching Hour Studios' Masquerada: Song and Shadows is inspired by cRPG classics and set in a world where magical power is bestowed by mystical masks. Anna Marie Privitere got the chance to check the game out at last weekend's PAX West event.
Not being a big fan of WRPGs, I walked into Masquerada: Song and Shadows with a bit of trepidation. Hailed as an action RPG inspired by games such as Dragon Age and Baldur's Gate, yet streamlined, I jumped in and ended up having a really good time.
The demo available to play was of the game’s prelude, set five years before the game proper begins. Within the world of Masquerada, the titular masks have become a mark of the excessively rich. Masks are the only way to cast magic, and the art of creating these mystical masks has been lost to the annals of time. Killing someone wearing a mask destroys their mask, making them a highly coveted commodity with an increasing rarity. The names of those killed while wearing masks are remembered almost religiously, essentially making mask wearers, or at least their names, immortal. Masks have divided the Citte’s population into two sharp groups of the Haves and the Have Nots, leading to a rebellion. While the rebellion is largely crushed, the experiences of those whose paths crossed with the rebellion change how those view the disparity in their city. In the present day, an investigation into a seemingly random murder ends up opening into a much larger story of political intrigue, which of course involves good, evil, and masks.
There’s no experience, no levels, and no inventory. Instead, skill points determine how you build your character; in addition, weapons can be customized with inks and engravings for a streamlined character progression experience. Combat is also fairly streamlined, players have four skills that can be activated with number keys on the keyboard (controller support is also available); other characters auto-attack when not being directly controlled. Combat looked hectic and at first I panicked, until realizing that I could pause the combat at any time with the space bar, look around the battlefield, and decide what attacks to run next.
The game has been developed completely in Singapore with a fully Singaporean staff, though some aspects of the game such as voice acting (the game is fully voiced) come from talented American actors including Matt Mercer. Masquerada arrives on PC via Steam and GoG on September 30, 2016, with a PlayStation 4 release planned for 2017.