Masquerada: A Story-Based Tactical RPG in Dragon Age's Off-Season

Masquerada: A Story-Based Tactical RPG in Dragon Age's Off-Season

Who is Cicero Gavar and why does he wear that fabulous mask?

The problem with conventions is there's a lot of games to play and your time is rather finite. PAX takes this problem and makes it worse by having a significant indie presence spread throughout the entire show. This can lead to situations where you end up playing a game, but not having enough time to write about it.

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a game I've played before, but forgot to bring to your attention last time around. It's a narrative-driven tactics RPG featuring pause-and-play combat, much like the original Dragon Age. The world Masquerada inhabits has an magic-using aristocracy that wears unique masks as a status symbol. The art and architecture mirrors Renaissance Italy. You play as Cicero Gavar, an Inspettore pardoned from exile to solve a kidnapping.

You control Cicero and two companions, each of whom has a small set of unique elemental attacks. Cicero is of the earth element, so his abilities slow down and stun his targets. Another character uses water to heal and protect fellow party members with walls, while your final party member in the PAX Prime build wields the power of fire and a longsword. In addition to these basic abilities gated by cooldown, each character also has a tide-turning Mask ability.

Masquerada somewhat resembles the Banner Saga, but the surprising thing is how fast combat moves. You can pause to make more tactical decisions, but the overall speed of the game is very quick. If you're not controlling a character, the AI will do its best not to get your entire team killed, but switching characters is key. Failure plays out in seconds, so you'll see the results of your (or the AI's) poor decisions immediately. (Don't worry, your dead will return to life when combat ends.) I played with my fingers flying across the keyboard in real-time, switching between characters, laying down walls to push enemies in certain directions, and using area-of-effect attacks to maximize damage output.

The game is focused on telling a story though; all the dialogue is fully-voiced. The game features the voice talents of Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect), Matthew Mercer (Fire Emblem: Awakening), and Dave Fennoy (The Walking Dead) to name a few. Even while playing, the general thrust of Masquerada feels like it's all about outlining the world the developers at Witching Hour have created. Political infighting, class, sexuality, and religion all feature in Cicero's tale.

Masquerada is planned for an early 2016 release on PC, Mac, and consoles in Spring 2016.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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