Mas­quer­ada: Songs and Shad­ows

Rage against the Mas­quer­ines

Games Master - - REVIEW | REVIEW ROUNDUP - Jack Cooper

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a game with as much heart as Mas­quer­ada. This Kick­started iso­met­ric tac­ti­cal ac­tion fan­tasy RPG (bit of a mouth­ful…) has plenty to of­fer, with gor­geous hand-drawn vi­su­als, a tal­ented voice cast, and a nar­ra­tive full of twists and heart­break. Set in the fan­tasy-Re­nais­sance world of Omera, Mas­quer­ada lets you ex­plore a world full of lore and secrets, use magic masks (also known as Mas­quer­ines) to con­trol the el­e­ments, and un­earth a con­spir­acy that threat­ens to top­ple the gov­ern­ment. All in a day’s work, right?

When Mas­quer­ada is good, it is re­ally good. There is a sub­tle depth to com­bat, and the abil­ity to pause mid-bat­tle al­lows you to plan and pull off sat­is­fy­ing strate­gies to take down foes. There’s an as­ton­ish­ing amount of de­tail in­vested in the his­tory, lo­ca­tions and lore of the world. The com­pan­ion char­ac­ters are de­vel­oped or­gan­i­cally as the story pro­gresses, and are given their own emo­tional arcs and place in the nar­ra­tive to al­low you to re­ally con­nect with them.

It’s a shame then, that, for a game that tries so hard to cre­ate an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s let down by fea­tures that take you out of the ac­tion. Load­ing screens in­ter­rupt scenes, set-pieces, and the story, slow­ing down the game’s pace. All too of­ten, com­bat falls short of its tac­ti­cal in­ten­tion, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing into a but­ton-mash­ing con­test, which cheap­ens the imag­i­na­tive en­coun­ters.

But as we say, Mas­quer­ada’s got heart – give it a chance, and it’ll give you a won­der­ful world to lose your­self in.

Mask-nif­i­cent hand-drawn art makes each level look like a page out of a vis­ual novel. For­mat PS4 (re­viewed), XO, PC Pub Ys­bryd Dev Witch­ing Hour Stu­dios ETA Out now Play­ers

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