There’s a world where a limited number of masks give their users magical abilities. Those who hold the masks are the high class aristocrats of the society, and the oppressed seek to steal the masks and start a rebellion. Cicero is an inspector who is faced with inspecting the disappearance of an individual, and whose loyalties between the Masquerada and the lower class will be tested. Cicero will lead a team of other mask wielders into battle, each one with their own story to tell and their own piece of the grand puzzle that is Masquerada.
The first thing to easily notice about Masquerada is the wonderful hand drawn artwork. The background plates of the levels look outline by colored pencils and filled by chalk. The characters are beautifully drawn, each one have their own distinct look, while maintaining the overall unique art style of the game. Masquerada is a great looking game, and I assessed all of this before I even sat down for my demo.
Sitting down and being handed the controller, I was a little overwhelmed at first. Masquerada is an isometric RPG — equal parts Dragon Age, Baldur’s Gate, and Transistor. The complexity and depth of the character abilities is a bit much to deal with in a brief demo setting. Fortunately Masquerada allows you to pause the action to tactically set up your battle settings, similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition. This made things a little bit easier as I was able to assess what each character was adding to the battlefield and utilize their unique classes and abilities to my advantage.
Tactical Combat RPG
Hopefully the final game will have more of a progressive build up, allowing you to first get used to the combat before overwhelming players with a wealth of character abilities. Once I got the hang of what I was doing, battle management was fun and I found myself tactically laying out my character positions and attacks for maximum efficiency against regular groups of enemies and the demo’s boss alike.
If you aren’t a tactical player, don’t worry, the slow and purposeful gameplay isn’t required. You can charge into battle mashing the buttons to activate abilities and take out enemies, or you can even mix and match, using active battle and tactical gameplay cohesively. This is the way that I found myself playing through most encounters, with a couple of pauses to make sure that my party was healed or positioned just right before attacking the enemy relentlessly.
Masquerada looks delightfully simple but hides a deep battle system beneath its colorful exterior. While my demo didn’t dive too deeply into the lore of the world, I was told enough by one of the devs that I am itching to return to the world, put on a mask, and discover the mysteries of the Masquerada when it releases on PS4 early in 2016.