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Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review (Xbox One)

Based on a tactical RPG style, Masquerade is filled with fast and strategic combats. The game was developed by the indie studio Witching Hour and brings an attractive narrative and fun gameplay. It is a great title for different audiences, including players who prefer a simple and casual entertainment or for those who are more committed to challenges.

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review (Xbox One)

INTRODUCTION

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows brings a fully voiced story inspired from historical European Mask Balls. This RPG takes place in a colorful, but also mysterious kingdom, which is the set of an extraordinary adventure. Characters count with the incredible power of magical masks that allow them to explore and take advantage of amazing abilities. Battling mechanics are fun and allow the player to choose the action of each character in a fast-paced gameplay. The tactical role-playing style allows players to try different strategies to succeed in combats. Having this in mind, players will take control of Cicero Gavar and four other allies to fight on a dramatic revolution. Their main goal is to investigate the missing of other important characters and restore the social balance of their kingdom. Overall, Masquerada introduces a creative gameplay that allows gamers to be part of a consistent experience. The title has great potential for hours of fun, with a solid story-driven RPG.
 
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows was developed by Witching Hour Studios and will be soon available for Xbox One.
 
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review (Xbox One). The game brings a unique style that makes reference to the old Victorian Masquerade Balls.

STORY 

The story of the game is very interesting and will grab your attention from beginning to end. I really enjoyed the fact that the storyline brings elements of conspiracy combined with quick and engaging combats. I personally felt really compelled by the game's theme and its narrative. Here is how the game is introduced to the player:
 
Five years ago, one of the best investigators in the kingdom known as Cicero Gavar was exiled from the city of Ombre for committing a crime against the state. That is one of the details that show how Ombre is filled with mysteries and unrevealed secrets. After the kingdom’s diplomat Razitof Azrus goes missing, Cicero is requested to return and investigate the whereabouts of this and other missing characters.

The adventure cannot be completed alone and therefore Cicero partners with other very well-skilled allies. Their goal is to work together to discover more details on the kingdom’s conspiracy. What really makes the story interesting is the magic behind very special items that will inspire you to join combats in a different way. Masquerada introduces masks that grant special abilities to whoever puts them on. Because of those masks, Ombre has become a place where social injustice is more constant than ever. Therefore Cicero and his allies expect a major revolution forming underway the kingdom.
 
Masquerada's story has an outstanding plot idea, which combines all the elements that made me interested to really dive into the proposed adventure and spend time playing the game. However, after some time my expectations changed a little bit. As you advance with the characters, you will notice that this is a pretty linear story that does not open many possibilities for mystery exploration. Even though this particular aspect is somewhat restricted, players can still feel entertained at all times. In general, Masquerada delivers a lot of what RPG games in this style should have.
 
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review (Xbox One). Combats are fast-paced and engaging. The scenery is always filled with bright colors even during night time.

GAMEPLAY 

Masquerada’s gameplay structure involves a typical real-combat RPG mechanism, similar to what you can find in other titles such as Dragon Age. In this game, the player controls a maximum number of characters in battle, using their abilities to defeat opponents that appear on the map. It is up to you to make decisions on how to conduct the battles, using the best abilities of each character.
 
For players who are not very familiar with this battling style, this combat element can feel complex as casual players may get a little lost in the amount action options for each one of the allies. The good news is that the mechanics are not hard to understand and after few minutes practicing the heroes’ moves, you should be ready for the next challenge.

One of the potential concerns I had with a linear style such as the one found in Masquerada was experiencing exhaustive combats in order to follow the story in a linear way. However, I was really glad to notice that this is not the case. Battles happen in a fast, fun and tactical way. Each character adds an extra spark to the gameplay through their individual skills. The selection of abilities, movements, and attacks are very well polished and make the fights look not only epic but also beautiful.

Like any good RPG game, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows has a selection of particular skills that match the player’s character of choice. In this game, these special abilities are tied to the masks collected throughout the stages. The masks are, without a doubt the best element of the game. Abilities have a good variety of moves and can range from calling support creatures to revealing helpful healing skills. Because of that, collecting masks becomes part of an essential goal of the game. Keep in mind that the more masks you get, the best chances you will have to use different abilities in battles. Make sure to explore everyone's abilities and take advantage of the great power found in masks to perform better in combats.

On the other hand, I can definitely see some potential for improvements on characters that don’t seem to be so memorable. When playing RPGs, I usually tend to get attached to some characters more than others. For some reason, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows did not quite give me that feeling. However, don’t get me wrong. One of the most interesting things about the game is the actual definition of who the heroes are and why they are doing what they are doing. Fighting alongside Cicero Gavar in this journey has made me really dive into the narrative and work hard to defeat enemies. However, I did not find myself exploring most of the powers outside of a specific set that was already effective for me in battles.
 
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review (Xbox One). Battle mechanics let you choose the best abilities of each character in order to succeed.

GRAPHICS AND AUDIO

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows' design is based on the glamorous Victorian Masquerade Balls, which are public festivities that use a set of complex artwork details to enrich the appearance of elegant events. What a great idea to incorporate this style in an RPG. In this case the idea of Masquerade Balls is nicely blended into heroic confrontations. In addition, the game has a wide variety of colors, both found on characters and in overall scenarios. Graphics have bright and beautiful elements that improve the visual experience and makes the game attractive to the player’s eyes.
 
As expected, the soundtrack choice also makes reference to the old Victorian Events, which is one of my favorite characteristics in this title. It blends really well with the battle style and motivates the player to keep going while giving that extra effort to do their best. Another great audio detail that I cannot forget to comment is the quality found in the game's narrative. It is very clear to see the effort on making dialogues sound vivid and intense on the right level.  There is also a good variety of artists behind the narration work, which makes the gameplay more interesting as you move on the journey. Finally, this particular game aspect helps players feel emotionally driven and motivated as the story progresses.
 
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review (Xbox One). The game's fully-voiced story lets players discover the mysteries of the chaotic kingdom of Ombre.

CONCLUSION 

Masquerade: Songs and Shadows is a great indie title that introduces a great story and fun combats. Although it brings beautiful audio and visual elements, the game has a very linear structure with an RPG style that entertains the player but does not exceed expectations. The main reason why I say that is because of my personal interaction with the available characters. However, I would not feel discouraged to give this title a try. The extraordinary storyline and narrative make the adventure very engaging at all times.Witching Hour Studios has managed to develop a nice adventure that can easily become a great choice for all types of players.

PROSCONS
+ Great reference to historical Masquerade Balls  – Linear story limits overall experience
+ Fantastic usage of colors to enhance visual elements– Does not exceed expectations in terms of innovation
+ Combats are fast-paced and fun– Characters are not so memorable
+ Sounds flow really well with game dynamic
7
Good

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