Masquerada: Songs and Shadows

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Combining fully voiced pause-for-tactics RPG, deadly magic, masked deceptions and a Venetian-style city, Witching Hour Studios created a game that has already set the industry tongues wagging.

When I contacted the Creative Director a couple of weeks ago, the team was busy crowdfunding on Kickstarter, but here’s an excerpt from the press release.

“In the turmoil-ridden Citte della Ombre, religion holds no sway. Only the songs sung of one’s deeds will carry an Ombrian’s legacy beyond death. Those who hold even the smallest morsel of power will make every effort to ensure their songs live on. Enter the Mascherines – masks from an ancient time that allow its wielders to channel the elements into destructive magic. The Mascherines have perpetuated a culture of inequality between the power-hungry guildsmen known as the Masquerada and the impoverished lower classes, the Contadani. A prolonged civil war, ignited by Contadani rebels who steal Mascherines from the Masquerada, has only drawn scars of mistrust across the Citte since. Players follow the trails of an expert investigator, Cicero Gavar, who was exiled for a crime against the state five years ago. Cicero has now been summoned back to Ombre to solve the mysterious kidnapping of the diplomat Razitof Azrus, whose wake has left a trail of death. As other members of the Masquerada join Cicero’s’ investigation, all having their doubts about one another within this culture of deception, their faith will be pushed to the limit as a deeper conspiracy lurks in the shadows of Ombre.

About the Gameplay Features
Cicero and his four companions each have their own classes, of which there are three distinct types: the roguish Sicario, the monolithic Pavisierre, and the bardic Dirge. Each of Cicero’s companions specialises in one of these stances in combination with a specific element, while Cicero himself is able to choose his own element and swap between the stances at will. Players can take advantage of synergies between each character’s magic spells by way of the Elemental Tag system. By casting particular elements in succession, players can leverage element-based status effects for crowd control, such as blinding smog or a debilitating cloud of steam. For example, an earth spell inflicts an enemy with an earth elemental tag, which can be triggered by a water spell to ensnare the enemy in show-stopping mud. Skill modifiers allow for more variations of battlefield tactics. For example, with Zephyr – Cicero’s teleportation spell – players can choose an offense-oriented modification that blasts out hot air when Cicero re-appears. Alternatively, a defensive modification could blast cold air to freeze enemies at Cicero’s original location, buying him time to recover or cast other spells. Positioning on the battlefield has great importance in Masquerada. All player characters, NPCs and enemies have armour (whether physical or magical) that must be dealt with before being able to hurt them. With flank attacks, armour can only mitigate half the damage dealt to a target, and attacks to the rear cause full damage to a target. As such, planning to position one’s magic attacks becomes vital.”

Make sure to pop by the studio’s site to check out their previous work on Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion and Romans In My Carpet.

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