At every convention, there is always that one game that calls to you like no other and this year for PAX East of 2017, it was Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, done by Ysbryd Games. Lucky for me, this was my last meeting and interview of that particular day, and I had more time to spare than I usually would have for talking to the developer and playing through the demo they had up.
Especially since I’m usually on some time of time crunch, I usually have to skip through parts of the cut scenes and such going on, getting only enough to give me a general overview of what is going on. I couldn’t do that with Masquerada: Songs and Shadows. I was entranced from the very beginning. Voices fascinate me; they always have, and it was clear from the start that these were no normal game voices. They were real; with nuances and echoes. They reminded me a bit of Nino Kuni, one of my all-time favorite Playstation Three games. The developer explained to me that the reason for this was that they were in fact real voice actors, that had been thrown in an environment in order to create the effects of the voices that I had picked up on.
The graphics were just as beautiful as I found the voices to be and everyone knows that I’m a sucker when it comes to pretty graphics. Of course, I had to ask where the ideas came from and the developer told me allot of the scenery had come from things he had seen in his time in Venice. This included the main aspect of the game…involving masks.
Masks granted you the power to utilize magic and so are very much sought after in this world. I think the thing about Masquerada is that it appealed to virtually every nerve bone in my body. While I do like my fair share of hack and slash when in the right mood, my heart truly lives with tactics based games, which is what Masquerada is. You can’t just aim your sword or your magical abilities and hope to really accomplish anything. You actually have to think and focus your moves. (The developer even gave me the hint of pausing the game, in the beginning, to figure out my best course of actions for certain aspects of battle, which was incredibly helpful.)
Even more fascinating to me was when I found out that the entire storyline for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows was based on none other than a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. As I’ve said before, the inspiration questions are usually my favorite anyway, but this was a first for me. I had never really come across a game entirely devoted to a tabletop game like that, much less seen so much time, effort and energy put into such a thing.
I can’t say much else without spoiling the story for now, but the developer of Masquerada was kind enough to give me a copy to review of the game as I was so very fascinated with it, and that is definitely something to look forward to soon!