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PSX SEA 17: CRPG Fans, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Is For You
As I finally got my turn to try out Masquerada: Songs And Shadows, the developers handed me over a pair of headphones. This is surely to show off how well the voice acting, I commented. And with headphones on I went through the demo session which featured dialogue scenes and a few skirmishes to showcase the combat. Aside from one minor bug that an enemy was having pathfinding issues, everything felt really good.
It makes sense, since the game is already out on PC. The PS4 version, which was showcased at PSX SEA 2017, is also going to be out soon.
The biggest draw for me was how the combat works. It reminded me of Transistor at first, considering since you have four different abilities an ability to stop time to assess the situation. The developers mentioned the Dragon Age series, which is a much better comparison. The isometric look should remind you of other CRPGs like Baldur’s Gate, which the developers said to be their base model for combat.
You have a default attack done by holding R2 and abilities are all tied to the face buttons. There is potential for setups and combos. It was a bit overwhelming to figure everything out in the short demo- so thank goodness you can pause the time with L1 and read all the descriptions.
Abilities come in many flavours, there are Area Of Effect (AOE) attack, there is also an ability that shoots in a single line that rewards good positioning. Unique to the game is a focus barrier mechanic, that essentially adds a flanking mechanic. Some enemies have bigger focus radius, which reduces the damage taken from that area. One effective tactic to overcome this is by drawing aggro with a companion (which you can switch to mid-battle) and then use your main character to attack from behind.
If you played CRPGs before and loved them, you will surely love the combat in Masquerada.
The presentation is also really good. I like the water-painted style of the environments. The voice acting, powered by big talents in the gaming industry such as Matt Mercer and Jennifer Hale, really shined here. With the high-class fantastical setting, hearing them speaking with noble mannerisms is refreshing. Hopefully there’s enough world-building and lore to support the interesting setting.
It is an impressive game, and is much more impressive to learn that it is developed in Singapore. Talking to one of the developers from Witching Hour Studios, we got to hear the struggles of how to actually ship a game, especially when you are just getting started as an indie outfit in a region with a small (but growing) gaming industry. For example, setting up the Kickstarter campaign was not easy. It helps that the game was already well in development- it’s main use was to give the game more attention- but it involved jumping through a lot of hoops such as finding a UK address since Kickstarter was not available for Singapore addresses at the time.
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is out now on PC, with a PS4 release on August 8 for US and Europe, with Asia sometime later.