- Developer – Witching Hour Studios
- Publisher – Ysbryd Games
- Platforms – PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, macOS
- Release Date: September 30th, 2016(PC,macOS), August 8th, 2017(PS4), August 23rd, 2017(Xbox One), May 9th, 2019(Nintendo Switch)
- Price: $19.99
- Review Code Provided – Yes
- Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a tactical RPG set in a Renaissance period. The game features unbelievably good voice acting, writing, and a stellar soundtrack. However, there are a ridiculous amount of loading screens that can harm your enjoyment of the game. With that being said, let’s dive straight into the review.
The game started out kind of slow for me. The first 4-5 hours I was a little lost, as there is a lot of back story and knowledge in general that you need to take in. After a while, I started to understand it more and be more involved in the complex and giant story that resides in the game. After you’ve invested 20 hours in the game, you really start to get into the lore of Masquerada: Songs and Shadows. There is so much to dive into and uncover, and I’m glad the game offers that. The voice acting was some of the best I can remember in a long while, for it was extremely well done. All of the characters have a extremely unique personality and charm, and it’s all thanks to the wonderful voice acting. With 5 protagonists, it’s incredible that they all have fantastic voice acting. Masquerada: Songs and Shadows takes place in Citte della Ombre and is in a beautifully hand drawn world. The game talks a lot about how one’s goal is to have a song about them. In their world, if you have a song about your deeds then you succeeded in life. The Mascherines are masks made many years ago, and they help the wielder use many unique elemental powers. All of the protagonists have these, and each of them have different elemental powers. When playing in the game, you get very immersed. Popping colors, costumes, even props in the back help sell the idea of being in the Renaissance era. The 5 protagonists playable in the game are Cicero, Kalden, Tiziana, Amadea, and Vasco. Each of the five protagonists are all unique in their own way. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and it requires knowledge of the player to know how to use each one to their best. The goal of the game is to uncover the strange disappearance of Razitof, an old friend of Cicero. Cicero had been exiled for 5 whole years, but he was summoned back to help lead the discovery of finding Razitof.
The gameplay for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is solid. Overall, the combat system is great, and it’s pretty easy to learn. The UI in this game is also very helpful. It’s pretty big, so it’s very easy to see what attacks or moves you are choosing to do. You have your basic attacks, and then you have your elemental attacks based on what Mask and elemental power it has. The game follows what they call an “Elemental Tag System”. It’s sort of similar to the orbs in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in a way. If you have a Water Mascherine and use another Mascherine of a different element, you can give your enemy an effect. In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, you can put an earth orb on and then a fire one to create a volcano art. Similar thing here, but it’s applied to the enemy, so water and earth spells would make mud.
A big issue I had with Masquerada: Songs and Shadows was the amount of loading screens. They happened all the time, and it was pretty annoying when you had just completed something and ready to move on. I’m not sure if the Switch hardware was at fault here, but it is not a pleasant experience. After you go to a new area, you don’t want to have to wait every single time. There were just way too many loading screens, and it somewhat hurt my enjoyment of the game at times. The other small issue I had with the game was the really slow pacing. Some might like this, however I quite enjoy a little bit of a quicker paced game, as it gives a sense of urgency. A tiny bit faster would’ve gone a long way for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows.
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a great tactical RPG to pick up on the Nintendo Switch. Fantastic writing, voice acting, and a hand drawn overworld help excel this game above others, however loading times drag your experience. If you don’t mind long waiting times frequently, I highly suggest picking this one up.