Masquerade The Baubles of Doom is developed and published by Big Ant Studios. ‘an action-adventure set in the fantasy world of The Realm, centered around a battle for the mythical Druid Orbs, the most powerful pair of balls in all the land. For it was said that whomever possessed the Orbs, possessed the power to rule all. From foreign shores came the Clowns, an army of morose maniacs determined to find the Orbs. And so began the Great Clown Invasion.’
Upon starting Masquerade you are met with and introduction that gives the back story to the game, nicely animated and decent voice acting, along with some tongue-in-cheek humour, setting the overall feel and tone for the rest of the game. This is done quite well and is quickly followed up on, as after setting what difficulty you want to play on, you are then back watching another cut scene. This time fairly lengthy as it introduces us to the main character Jaxx and his partner Comedia.
With that, we find that Jaxx and Comedia have the map that leads to the whereabouts of the Druid Orbs, and are being pursued by the Clown Army, who then capture Comedia. Leaving us to play as Jaxx, and to embark on the quest of rescuing Comedia and stopping the map from falling in to the wrong hands.. Now as I’ve said up to this point it is all looking great and as the gameplay began so did the game’s problems.
From the start there’s a frame rate issue that comes and goes and the camera is on a strange angle and quite often makes it hard to see what is going on, you can rotate the camera around, but this too can cause problems. Getting the camera stuck in the surroundings is one of which, and happened quite often as the gameplay area is quite confined at times. Especially at the start of the game, when in the town the camera would glitch in to buildings etc.
The combat is really basic too, with the majority of it being combo based and only using the X button to attack it did become a little repetitive after a while. Which is quite a shame as a lot of effort has quite clearly been put in to the creative side of the game, as I said earlier the story is quite in depth and really quite funny. The way the game transitions between the cut scenes and game is done really well, it just lacks a little polish when it comes to the gameplay.
There’s a few areas the game tries to mix it up a little, and introduces some areas that require timing your movements and jumps, whether being moving platforms or obstacles, these do break up the combat but not enough. As I pointed out earlier the combat is basic, and the majority of which takes place around the ‘out house’ spawn points of the game, and ultimately leads you to having to destroy it to stop the clowns from coming, which is referenced in one of the early cut scenes, and is quite funny but just doesn’t translate in to the gameplay well. You do get to level up a special attack that can be used once you have filled the meter up, but it generally only takes out one or two enemies, and just feels a little underwhelming.
Masquerade could probably benefit from a little more advanced combat system, and maybe some more unlockable skills other than the special attack that could change the game up a bit. Jaxx does come equipped with a giant hammer that he uses for attacking, and there seems to be a missed opportunity here too, there could be upgrades for the hammer or even more unlockable weapons. Again just to have given the gameplay some much needed attention and variety.
That being said the visuals are great, although there is an issue with occasional frame rate loss, the overall cartoon style of both the cut scenes and game are really nicely done, and fit really well within the theme. There’s some really nice detail that you notice while playing, little things like defeating the final clown of a wave happens in slow motion, and the way in which they react to how they’ve just been hit, and their facial expression is both, well done and amusing.
The voice acting, as mentioned earlier is really well done too. and is not just in the cut scenes. There’s quite a lot of dialogue throughout the game and not just story based talking either. You will hear things like a group of clowns that you’re approaching, having a funny conversation about something or other, or from behind a door, or shouting things at you from out of windows etc, you get the idea. It does at a bit of interest to the game which is quite welcomed as without it, it would be pretty boring.