Masquerada: Songs and Shadows (Xbox One) Review

By Izzy Lichi 31.08.2017 12

Review for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows on Xbox One

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a real-time strategy RPG where magic, blades, and masks come as a trinity of elegance. A vibrant story filled with charming and threatening characters that will join and challenge a twenty-hour story of lore packed with European influential locations. While filled with reading and world building, something is surely missing from Masquerada: Songs and Shadows.

Protagonist Cicero Gavar finds his way back home to the city of Ombre, where he must solve a local case of people that have gone missing. Not long after he begins, Ciero will find himself getting involved with the worst nightmares resulted by dark politics. As the story progresses, It becomes very noticeable how incredibly deep the lore is. Every screen that is traversed has "lore spots" that can be investigated and will follow nearly a full page of information about towns, jobs in the city, rumours, or even stories about a particular individual.

Exploring however, is a sad man's hope. Not much can ever be found, as an inventory system is completely absent from the game. Loot is completely non-existent, and seldom will there be battles aside from scripted events. Linearity is the very word that torments Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, but not just in story progression - in combat progression, as well.

Screenshot for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows on Xbox One

Combat is an enjoyable feature… when it actually happens. While most of the combat is done through holding down a button to perform auto attacks, special skills commonly involve placement and careful planning. Some battles can appear overwhelming when squads of foes fill the screen, causing an all-out skirmish with the heroes, but keeping a calm focus and utilising skills to their full potential will always guarantee an otherwise swift victory.

Switching between characters in combat is very useful, as well, when needing to decide when their special abilities can be used at their optimum opportunities. Although not too crucial, it is still fun to see a carefully planned combat strategy come to fruition. Sadly, combat can become completely trivial by simply sliding down the difficulty at any given time in the game's options menu, eliminating any hope of enjoying a combat-fulfilling experience.

Without a doubt, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows' strongest asset is the voice acting. Absolutely stellar performances from not just the hero, but nonessential characters and essential ones alike. The visuals, as well, hold a very strong presence from start to finish; during combat, all actions are very well animated, and not once will there be clipping or glitching. Incredible work was applied in the performance and presentation, while clearly the overall experience of the gameplay was the trade-off.

Screenshot for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows doubles down hard on building a world of enlightening lore, but forgets to do the same for the combat and gameplay, giving the game more of a visual novel impression, which will leave a lot of players wanting if not a fan of the mentioned niche genre. While the combat system itself is far from disappointing, item drops or a more in-depth system of building heroes' combat capability would have greatly benefited the game's non-storytelling-related content, or lack thereof. The linearity of the adventure really feels noticeable and begs to be somewhat more open-ended to allow the wonderfully voice-acted characters to breathe in the very deep lore that is found in nearly every corner of the beautifully crafted visuals.

Developer

Witching Hour Studios

Publisher

Ysbryd Games

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sadly, combat can become completely trivial by simply sliding down the difficulty at any given time in the game's options menu, eliminating any hope of enjoying a combat-fulfilling experience.

So don't alter the difficulty? Bit confused by this bit... It's like saying the game can be made easier by switching it to an easier difficulty mode.

Azuardo said:

Sadly, combat can become completely trivial by simply sliding down the difficulty at any given time in the game's options menu, eliminating any hope of enjoying a combat-fulfilling experience.

So don't alter the difficulty? Bit confused by this bit... It's like saying the game can be made easier by switching it to an easier difficulty mode.

doesnt that cheapen the challenge by default? 

in strategy, you do everything possible to win right? 
at the very least there should be some kind of trade-off for making the game easier without working hard.

Is that what Izzy thinks too? Why should there be a trade-off? The challenge only cheapens because you chose to not have a challenge. Choose to not make things easier and you have your challenge. Options are good, man. You just got to have some self control, play it how you want to play it, and not worry how others might choose to play their game. I'll never get the stance people take when criticising difficulty options.

I Absolutely find the option to change ingame difficulty at anytime, a very bad practice for video games in the long run, because the player is basically garenteed a safety net if he or she ever struggles with the difficulty, instead of trying to get better. i think the YS games that i played handled it best, where if you lower the difficulty, you cant change it back up again. there has to be a trade off somehow

I'm doing the right thing, when no one else wanted to.

But you are guessing how someone else plays their game, and knocking the game for that. What if they are struggling to no end to pass a certain point? Not everyone has the skill to just "get better." Why should someone be locked to easy mode after moving it down from normal? Now they are forced to have an easy ride through the rest of the game instead of letting them go back to the challenge they wanted, just because they couldn't pass one section?

You're worrying how others might use a difficulty option and criticising that, when you yourself are able to keep it at the difficulty you want and never feel the effects of how someone else uses those options. Why does it matter to you that someone doesn't have to get good at a game to enjoy it? To give users the freedom to knock a difficulty down and then turn it back up again is good. Just as it's equally good to let you play the game all the way through on the difficulty you like with no repercussions.

I wouldn't have finished many games if we didn't have these kinds of options, so I'm grateful for them. I don't care about trying to "get good" at many of them, and don't think games deserve to be knocked for just offering options to players of all skill levels. Just comes across as elitist to me.

we will just have to agree to disagree. 

Playing a game in a more challenging setting should deem some form of reward, otherwise theres simply no point in having difficulty options in the first place, unless its unchangable after starting the game, otherwise why bother playing a game in a hard difficulty if theres no proof or reward? 
you call it "options" but i call it babying the player and preventing them to commiting to getting better. Dont get me wrong though, options are great, but keep it away from affecting the entire game's commodity.

you say its elitist to say this, but elitists deserve to be happy too, as they are people aswell.

with that being said, the difficulty concept i mentioned from YS is perfect, because then if casual players want to play the game on easy, they have absolutely the option to do so, and for those who dont want to have a test of forbearance, can expect to lose the privilege of being on a hard difficulty the second they lower it, which will entice them to not lower it, everyone's happy!



( Edited 01.09.2017 18:54 by Ser Millian )

I'm doing the right thing, when no one else wanted to.

Yeah, we'll definitely have to agree to disagree on that.

Dwight Parker (guest) 01.09.2017#8

So elitists don't deserve to be happy? Only causals?

Dwight Parker (guest) said:
So elitists don't deserve to be happy? Only causals?

Well, I've already made out there's no point arguing further because we cannot agree. But since I can't tell if you're actually Izzy/Al, I'll entertain you for a sec lol.

How are you defining elitist? Because I'm saying an elitist in this instance is being so high on your horse that you think it's wrong that casuals aren't allowed a difficulty slider that does not affect people that don't want to use it in the slightest.

Everyone is happy when you have options that don't hurt every individual. Top level players play on hard modes and get the challenge they crave. Casuals play on easier modes to get the casual experience they crave. Neither situation hurts either party.

"What's the point of playing on hard if there's no proof or reward?" The majority of games, especially 8-bit/16-bit games, don't offer proof or a reward. Did you complain then? Your reward is personal satisfaction. And that comes in many forms, and from playing on many difficulties.

I'm absolutely in favour of tough games, like Dark Souls and Nioh. But when a game offers the chance for a less skilled and casual player to play through something on an easier setting, that's great for them. I don't consider myself above them to wish that option is taken away, to have them punished for using it, or to look down upon them and expect them to "get better." Some people don't have the time or desire to play games and be good at them around busy lives. Some people just want to play a game casually to experience a story they otherwise never would have experienced if they couldn't beat it or didnt have the time to put in to get good at it.

 the ingame changable difficulty immensely spoils the challenge to non-casual/elitist players, because it is now giving them the accessible safety net to the possibility of breaking the game like a cheat mode option if they ever hit a snag down the road. and since nowadays, most games dont reward playing on harder difficulties, there is virtually no incentive not to decide, eh.... may aswell just switch it down to an easier mode because its alot more convinient then spending the extra time to get past it, such as grinding or learning patterns as examples. However, those things would be alot more enticing when changing the entire game's difficulty at any given time was a non existing factor, or if you lowered it, you cant increase it.

 if a player wants to strictly play on a hard but changable difficulty, they will have to test themeselves in a game of forbearance, which is never fun. 

i mean... pretty much every game before the 7th gen (or maybe 6th) of gaming didnt really have changable difficulty, and it was never a problem, infact its the exact reason why many players have became very good at games today. You mentioned you are a fan of dark souls. The most iconic and renowned feature of that IP is that it doesnt waste time with difficulty options at all, and expects you to learn patterns and "Git gud" at the game. Resident evil 7 was a wide success, and had rewards for beating the story mode, determined by the difficulty selected before starting, again, another great game, doing it that way also adds replayability.

i believe options are good, but sometimes we need to know when to say no, for the betterment of experiencing a game in the big picture. And being able to play "god" with a game's environment by simply changing a slider anytime is poor game design practice.

( Edited 01.09.2017 20:32 by Ser Millian )

I'm doing the right thing, when no one else wanted to.

Well, I wouldn't say I'm a "fan" of Dark Souls, since I've only briefly played it and it wasn't something I was going to pursue with. I just used that as an example that I'm content for "hard only" games. If it had an easy mode, I'd give it a go again, but am I bothered that it doesn't have one? Not at all. Just saying if it did have one, it wouldn't affect the normal players that play it on the standard mode.

There are a number of games that offer better rewards for playing on harder difficulties, such as Tales games, Lightning Returns, Bravely Default, The World Ends with You, Kid Icarus Uprising...so I'm definitely a fan of that. Giving this as an option to alter at any time is even better. Lets the player determine when to prepare to battle tough foes in order to get better rewards.

But overall, it's just about having restraint. You can only blame yourself for reverting to turning difficulty down to overcome something tough. I can play a tough game and learn to overcome it myself. But does it bother me that the option is there for someone else to overcome it by sliding the difficulty down when they want? Not in the slightest.

Azuardo said:
Well, I wouldn't say I'm a "fan" of Dark Souls, since I've only briefly played it and it wasn't something I was going to pursue with. I just used that as an example that I'm content for "hard only" games. If it had an easy mode, I'd give it a go again, but am I bothered that it doesn't have one? Not at all. Just saying if it did have one, it wouldn't affect the normal players that play it on the standard mode.

There are a number of games that offer better rewards for playing on harder difficulties, such as Tales games, Lightning Returns, Bravely Default, The World Ends with You, Kid Icarus Uprising...so I'm definitely a fan of that. Giving this as an option to alter at any time is even better. Lets the player determine when to prepare to battle tough foes in order to get better rewards.

But overall, it's just about having restraint. You can only blame yourself for reverting to turning difficulty down to overcome something tough. I can play a tough game and learn to overcome it myself. But does it bother me that the option is there for someone else to overcome it by sliding the difficulty down when they want? Not in the slightest.


i would counter that by saying that since there is no trade off, then there would be no harm in switching the difficulty down, i guess we are going in circles at this point mate Lol 

i respect your view on the matter

i would like to mention to those that read my review, i did not penalize the score at all, based on the discussed and established ingame changeable difficulty feature.

( Edited 01.09.2017 20:38 by Ser Millian )

I'm doing the right thing, when no one else wanted to.

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