Do not get confused by the title, I’m not talking about Vampire the Masquerade, we are still waiting for Paradox to confirm that Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky are working on a new title set in the World of Darkness. This article is about Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, a game created by Witching Hour Studios with inspiration drawn from games like Dragon Age: Origins and Transistor.
I have some mixed feelings about this game. The story is extremely intriguing and I’m quite captivated by it despite being linear and having no dialogue choices. Somehow it managed to get me sucked into this complicated universe filled of intrigue, mystery and weird Italian names that I struggle to remember. The voice acting is also worth praising bringing to life this game’s loveable characters. The artistic direction isn’t bad either, but the graphics are underwhelming even by indie’s standards Masquerada does wrong at the one thing that makes games like this noticeable in the new era of gaming, the combat.
The game has a real time combat system with pause, similar to many of the old DND RPGs, but with an action speed and mechanics more suitable for a Hack & Slash. The dynamic leaves little room for tactics and the limited skill system doesn’t help one bit. The pause serves mostly as a way to switch targets and cast spells without losing precious time or taking unnecessary hits. The tactics available usually rely on desperate kiting while trying to resurrect downed party members and little else is possible due to the frenetic speed of the action. It’s quite a shame, because a good combat system could have provided the depth this game needs to stand out.
I’m not putting a negative verdict on Masquerada, it’s just a shame that a game with such a captivating story isn’t accompanied by the strong gameplay it deserves.