Masquerada is a Robin Hood-style story set within its own unique fantasy world. A highly stylized world with Venetian influences, it’s beautiful and artfully crafted, with enough of its own flair to make it truly unique.
The heart of Masquerada is found in Mascharines, masks that grant their wearers a variety of magical abilities. Considered a luxury, the Mascharines are reserved only for the rich aristocratic class known as--appropriately--the Masquerada, a group of the most affluent who use the masks as little more than symbols of their wealth and fortune.
In an effort to even out the balance of power, rebels called Maskrunners steal the Mascharines from the rich to deliver them to the Contadani, better known as the middle to lower class citizens of the world. Focusing on both small and large-scale conflicts, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows explores the rift between the classes and the effects it has on interpersonal relationships with the main characters.
An isometric strategy RPG, Masquerada’s battles are made up of real-time fights with the option of stopping action completely to map out one’s next move. Every character has a distinct personality and set of abilities, each of which can be used at different points to effectively defeat an enemy in battle. It’s basic, but with enough complexity to keep it engaging. Meanwhile, flashy, stylized visuals give combat an added bit of zest and zeal. Character animations are varied and fluid, weapons are distinct and useful, and the different ability attacks and skill trees open up for excellent combinations.
But Masquerada’s strength lies in its detailed, fascinating narrative. It doesn’t play into many--if any--fantasy tropes, instead focusing on building up their own classes, abilities, and characters to craft a wholly unique fiction. Everything from the mask abilities all the way to character design has had thought, input, and care added to it to get it right.
Art is also a major component of this world, and one of the things that these rebel Maskrunners often agree on or have in common. Individual songs are crafted for fallen heroes, while many different subgroups in society identify themselves based on the type of art with which they engage. Considering the heavy Venetian/Renaissance influence on its look and design, choosing to mold art into a major component of this world and society works wonderfully and makes the overall fiction twice as interesting as it might have been.
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a promising game with great ideas. Look for it very soon on PC.