Tactical RPGs have many flavors depending on the nature of the title. Fire Emblem took the turn based, challenging approach with armies of knights clashing with other armies. Final Fantasy Tactics took a more personal take on combat with smaller spaces and smaller teams with an emphasis on building up each unit. Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is inspired by Dragon Age with its pause-for-tactics gameplay, while being set in a beautiful Venetian world. Get a feel for the art style in the trailer below.
Masquerda is a world filled with intrigue, betrayal, and mystical masks that fuel the supernatural elements of the story and the game. The main character, Cicero is voiced by none other than Mathew Mercer, a man behind hundreds of video game characters through the years, who also happens to be one hell of a Dungeon Master on Critical Role. The game’s focus is on the combat as each character will have access to magic through the masks, setting a rhythm to the battles players will face. Of course one could ignore the pause element and play Masquerada like Diablo or a MOBA for a more frantic experience. Graphically the game uses a cool cel-shading technique over 3D models, while it seems to use still art for some of the story elements, all of which is inspired by French comic books. The setting and themes of the Venetian backdrop are fascinating and definitely sticks out among the European fantasy games that flood the industry.
Masquerda is also unique in its use of Kickstarter. As of now, the game is fully playable, with all the voice acting in place and the battle systems working well. However, the goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to extend development time by three months to put the finishing touches on what Witching Hour Studios hopes will create an unforgettable title. This also gives the team a chance to offer collectible features as donation rewards such as art books or statues.
Of course a plethora of information on the character’s voice actors, stretch rewards, influences, and more are available on the project’s Kickstarter page. What’s even better is that there is a demo available on Steam right now, giving players the chance to try out Masquerada early. It’s clear to see by the Kickstarter that the developers want Masquerada to be playable years from now and still remain relevant. They’re shooting for classic status right out of the gate and that’s something I can definitely respect. Not to mention the cornucopia of voice talent on the project, who recorded together to make the conversations flow, a rare recording style even with AAA games. I have a feeling Masquerada: Songs and Shadows will surprise its players upon its release.
Keep an eye out, even if its behind a mask, for what might be an amazing experience.