Title: Masquerada: Songs and Shadows
Genre: Strategy, Turn-Based, Tactics
Modes: Single player
Developer: Witching Hour Studios
Publisher: Stride PR
Platforms: Switch (Reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release: May 9, 2019
Recently ported to the switch, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is an isometric RPG set in the venetian-esque city of Ombre. The Swords-and-Sorcery flavor has some interesting twists, but fans of the genre will find plenty of familiarity in the combat system with features like ability telegraphing and tactical pause. The gameplay trailer from Witching Hour shows a pretty good example of the combat.
To say that this game has a wealth of lore might be an understatement. If you’re the lore-gathering type of player that likes to play “book pokemon” then you may find this game a treat. If you’re not the kind of player that likes to read all the lore you can find then you’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to read any of it to progress through the game.
There aren’t any plot choices to make which is fine if you’re ok with observing the story rather than participating in it. There’s no loot and no inventory to manage which can be a welcome departure if you need a break from loot Tetris.
What you’re left with - in terms of choice - is deciding which skills work best for yourself and your companions and setting the A.I. conditions which determine when each skill may be used. Skills are based on the elements, and (while you choose the element for your character at the beginning of the game) you will acquire companions with each of the elements so you can experiment with the various abilities for each element. Moreover, you acquire the ability to reset skills for any of the characters, so if you decide you don’t like a particular skill you can reset and reselect skills.
I’ve never been particularly good at this tactical style so I experienced party wipes on multiple occasions - even on the easiest difficulty. There has been some criticism of the A.I. behavior, so you may have to do more pausing and character-switching during combat to make sure your party is operating at peak efficiency.
Final Grade: C+
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows has an interesting story with good voice acting and provides tons of additional backstory about the people and places in Ombre. The combat is not difficult to pick up on, and the pause feature allows you to take all the time you need to strategize every fight.
Unfortunately, there’s really not much “RP” in this RPG for players who are accustomed to more creative control over their character. Still, it can be an enjoyable interactive diversion for story-lovers.
Review code provided by Stride PR