Mass Effect’s Jennifer Hale Goes Indie In Masquerada

Jennifer Hale quest to become The Voice of All has taken her everywhere from Scooby Doo: Mystery Mayhem as a poltergeist to Mass Effect as Shepard, and now into a little indie isometric tactical RPG called Masquerada: Songs and Shadows [official site].

This is the story of a civil war between the working class and the elite, taking place in a kind of Venetian city where recently unearthed masks trigger magic powers in a collective within the elitist Masquerada. Check it out below, the team at Witching Hour Studios has let out a new trailer. There are creatures made of books and stuff; it’s quite neat.

The game also features the vocal cord talents of Fire Emblem: Awakening’s Matthew Mercer and The Walking Dead’s Dave Fennoy. It’s an interesting concept: A pauseable tactical RPG that focuses heavily on dialogue and running commentary from its characters, even throughout combat.

It’s worth pointing out this is also the studio’s first true entry for the PC platform. Singapore-based Witching Hour Studios cut its teeth in the mobile market, but has since moved on to the greener pastures of Anything Not Android Or iOS.

“Back when we started, we promised we wouldn’t pollute the gaming market with nonsense,” says the team, who have three mobile games in the bag already. “Well, the mobile market polluted itself, and we’ve decided to take our wares where thoughtful games continue to be cherished – back to PC and consoles.

“Singapore is our home – it’s fabled for legendary things like the caning of Michael Bay Fay, death penalties for chewing gum and spaceship casinos. We’d very much like ‘mind-blowing vidya games’ to be added to the list of fabled things found and made in Singapore. We’re here to stay, so we hope you enjoy our work, and maybe find the inspiration to make your own games!”

Masquerada will be playable in its alpha form during this year’s PAX Prime. At the moment the game has a loose release window – spring 2016.

[Disclosure: RPS Bargain Bucketeer Cassandra Khaw is “business cat” for Masquerada publisher Ysbyrd Games.]

38 Comments

  1. jasta85 says:

    Gameplay reminds me a lot of pillars of eternity, which is a good thing as I really liked that game. Will put this on my radar

    • Aetylus says:

      It made me think of Moba abilities turned into pauseable tactics rpg… which, given Moba abilities place far more emphasis on positioning that the D&D origins of most cRPGS, strikes me as a rather good thing.

      • Tebius says:

        Spot on! Dev here, I think you’ve figured out our plan. =)

      • EhexT says:

        That literally exists – Arklash Legacy was a pausable realtime tactics game that focused almost exclusively on the action part. Practically everything’s a skillshot and is interceptable by whatever gets in the way, including heal spells.

        The level of concentration and precision needed makes it really tough to play for long.

      • MollyThomas says:

        my best friend’s mother makes $98 /hour on the internet . She has been unemployed for 9 months but last month her payment was $19743 just working on the internet for a few hours. hop over to here… http://www.wallstreet34.com

  2. mattevansc3 says:

    Looks interesting but not mot sure whether I like the art direction or not. I like the comic/cartoon look but don’t think its suited to that camera. It lacks detail which makes the backgrounds look sparse and empty while the character models look almost indistinguishable from each other.

    That art style worked in Bastion because the character models were more exaggerated, the maps packed with details and the action more zoomed in.

    • Luperts says:

      I knew something felt off and somewhat boring about the art, just couldn’t put my finger on it. You summed it up perfectly though.

      Apart from the art the concept and story sounds rather interesting

  3. KDR_11k says:

    Yes, Jennifer Hale is everywhere which is why it’s weird to see statements like “Mass Effect’s Jennifer Hale”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      And she has been in plenty of indies.

    • mouton says:

      I just call her “The” Jennifer Hale. A fan ever since Planescape: Torment and Ground Control.

      • w0bbl3r says:

        First time I really noticed how good she was at acting was in KoTor. She made a very bland and dull character sound interesting. At least a little.

    • Jenks says:

      Especially when in that particular game she voiced a character that less than 1 in 5 people heard.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Yes, I found that really odd. Jennifer has a lot more things to her name than just Mass Effect.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Swordfishtrombone says:

    ‘Ysbryd games’ – are they Welsh?

    • mattevansc3 says:

      No. You can say the name without spitting at people.

      • Premium User Badge

        Swordfishtrombone says:

        Ha. ‘Ysbryd’ is Welsh for ‘ghost’, hence my question.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          It’s the welsh word according to the site but the company is a Limited Exempt Private Company registered in Singapore, in one of those company rental units to get a local address it looks like so who knows.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            And of course, if looking properly at the “Our Team” page, BRIAN KWEK Founder, CASSANDRA KHAW Business Development.
            D’oh!

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Actually it means Spirit ;-) There isn’t a Welsh word for “Ghost” or at least in such a generic umbrella term. Strictly speaking it only shows up as “ghost” in some translation because the English language classes words such as spectre or spirit as other words for ghost.

  5. Penguin_Factory says:

    This looks pretty cool. The story sounds interesting.

  6. JFS says:

    Those are the Estellion mercenary guys, right? The games were pretty good, but unfortunately never on PC. Looks like the same engine, too.

    • Tebius says:

      Why yes we are! Ravenmark is actually gonna be on Steam soon.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Huh! Maybe I’ll actually play it for more than a few hours now. I liked it (what I’ve played) very much, but somehow I just never managed to settle in. Still, I’ll double-dip: sooner rather than later, if it’s not too pricey.

        Shame you seem to feel you need to rubbish the mobile market/burn your bridges, though. There’s plenty of terrible games on Steam which have no business existing too, you know? And more than enough vacuous, cookie-cutter free-to-play stuff.

        • Tebius says:

          Thank you in advance then! =D

          To be fair, I didn’t say that personally. But someone on my team has, so I’ll stand by it. Every platform has good and bad content, so I agree with what you’re saying about Steam. The state of game development in mobile ranges from depressing to scary for non-outliers, honestly. I don’t want to burn bridges, but it would be disingenuous for me to try and sugar coat for us on the dev side.

          I think we lucked out when we entered the scene as things were still new, user acquisition wasn’t a big deal and people were having a knee jerk reaction to IAPs. Our little ten dollars for forty hours gameplay of a game had a place. Which is funny, since us founders only picked mobile because it had the lowest barrier of entry for a bunch of noobs with no game development experience. The scene has changed drastically since then, and we really don’t see a place for us in the ecosystem. We’ve learnt a lot over the years and we think we’re ready to do something of a scale we’ve always wanted, thus Masquerada. =)

  7. montorsi says:

    Interest properly piqued. I like games that go this stylized route, as it lets me come back to them time and again without feeling they’ve aged.

  8. Auru says:

    Never heard of this game, but it’s fixed on my radar now.. looks really interesting :)

  9. Rumpelstilskin says:

    Really not convinced that party banter during fights is a great idea. Looked (and sounded) quite incongruous in the trailer.
    Also, Singapore caning is pretty hardcore.

    • Tebius says:

      It’s more like contextual stuff, like “I’m hurt” or “enemy down”. The trailer’s dialogue comes from more dramatic points in the story. It’s just overlayed here to give everyone a picture of what’s to come story-wise.

      • Rumpelstilskin says:

        Ok that’s good to know. Although I think it’s too easy to make that assumption based on the trailer and what the article says about focus on dialogue.

      • clearb says:

        So sort of similiar to the lines characters have in Persona 3/4/Q?

        Side: Singaporean reader here! A friend and I once met the Witching Hour team and they are awesome people. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this.

  10. w0bbl3r says:

    Banner saga anyone?

  11. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    I actually greatly prefer my games without Jennifer Hale.

    Don’t misunderstand me: she’s a fine actor and I have nothing against her personally. But she’s instantly-recognizable, and that always takes me out of the immersive space – the character ceases to be just themselves and becomes “oh, it’s Jennifer Hale.”

    This goes double for Steve Blum – I have a metric for games, Time Till Steve Blum (TTSB), which is how long it takes for before you hear a Steve Blum voice character. In most AAA games, it’s a very short amount of time.

    • EhexT says:

      I can’t imagine anything will ever top peak Steve Blum in one of the FEAR expansions – it literally has a scene in which Steve Blum watches Steve Blum being tortured by Steve Blum.

  12. Ghoul Monkey says:

    Surely you mean Saints Row’s Jennifer Hale.

    • Timbrelaine says:

      I know this is a PC site, but her best role was clearly the second Metroid Prime.

  13. MonolithicTentacledAbomination says:

    So from the art I guess this is medieval invisible inc., right?

  14. WHS says:

    Did anyone else find that quote kind of… strange? Comparing your game studio to Singapore’s barbaric criminal justice penalties? (Also, the use of “vidya games,” which should be stricken from the language.)