Preview – “Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom”

GameStop, Inc.

Masquerade: The Baubles of DoomFor centuries, countless, untold numbers of travelers have sought to obtain the Druid Orbs, “the most desired, coveted, powerful balls in all the realm”. Everyone to ever lay a hand on them were met with a gruesome death. Stories of the orbs grew and spread to distant lands until catching the attention of The Big Nose and his merciless army of clowns. There is only one person who can stop The Big Nose, a jester named Jaxx and this is Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom.

Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom is an upcoming, third-person action game from developers Big Ant Studios. The game is set to be released on April 20th for the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Steam. Recently we were able to play a demo of the first level of the game. So, how does it fare?

Masquerade_screenshot_01Story

The game starts off with “the blue guy,” Jaxx, a jester and his side kick, a buxom blonde named Comedia. Jaxx has made it his mission to stop The Big Nose and his army of clowns from getting the orbs and to do that he needs one thing that the clowns don’t know about, the map. After being chased for a bit, Jaxx and Comedia are ambushed by the clown army and Comedia and the map are kidnapped. Now it is up to Jaxx to once again find the map. Oh, and also to save Comedia.

The demo is fairly short, approximately thirty minutes long, so you don’t get much more than the basic overview of the story. Thankfully though, the game is written well enough and the voice acting is good enough that it keeps you interested in the game. The clowns are written as having low i.q.’s but the dialogue is good enough where the trait actually comes off as humorous instead of just having stupid characters because they are supposed to be stupid. Forced stupidity I guess is what I am trying to say. There is a bit of toilet humor in it as well where outhouses are used as enemy spawn points. Jaxx is written as your stereotypical adventurer and, as in the case of the clown army, while is written as a flanderized version of an adventurer, he is written in a way where you don’t get tired of his quips and dialogue. The game does just drop you into the story with a “you are doing this thing for reasons” story, which is ok because that is all you really need to know, but for people wanting more backstory, the extras menu has prologue videos for both Jaxx and The Big Nose.

Masquerade_screenshot_03Gameplay

I played the game on the pc while using an Xbox 360 controller, and the game even recommends playing with a controller. The controls are your fairly typical action game controls. The left stick is to move, right stick to control the camera, A is to jump, X is to attack, Y counterattacks or deals a finishing blow to knocked down enemies and B uses Jaxx’s super move. The super move can be used once you collect enough of the defeated clowns’ red noses. The game is pretty straight forward and, on medium at least, never seems overly hard. The most difficult time I had with playing the demo was the end boss, which is to be expected being, you know, a boss. Sure, I did get a tad frustrated constantly dying, but it was never to the point where I got fed up with it.

Mechanics

So the game is presented as a sort of cel shaded action platformer. While the game doesn’t have the greatest, or most detailed graphics for a game, the style of graphics the game does have certainly fits the comedic tone of the game, plus they are nice to look at. The music in the game is quite good, as well, although the main menu’s music does remind me of the main menu music for Plants vs Zombies. It is however one of the music tracks you can put on in the background and not get tired of it playing on loop while doing something (the game is currently sitting on the main menu, looping the track as I write this). If the rest of the game’s graphics and music are of the same quality, then this might just turn out to be a game to check out.

Masquerade_screenshot_02As far as game wise, I think one of the reasons the game doesn’t seem too difficult seemed to be the lack of punishment for dying. After you die you get respawned at the last checkpoint you passed. It really didn’t seem like there were any penalties for dying. Even the Lego games had penalty in that you lost some of you Lego studs after you died. Not that it is a huge problem, but I would’ve liked a lives system where there is some sort of personal sense of accomplishment after you finally beat the part (more than likely boss) that keeps handing you your baubles on a silver platter. The only other gripe I have with this game is the camera system. The camera constantly centers itself on Jaxx, so if you are trying to look around while moving or keep the camera pointed a certain way, that isn’t happening. Once you start moving the camera will just snap back to center on Jaxx.

So, even with the few personal gripes, I am still excited to experience the full version of Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom. Whether or not the full game will keep my interest only time will tell. If it keeps the same level of quality is this demo, I think it’ll be a fun game and would like to see more from Big Ant Studios, maybe even to roll this game into a franchise. So definitely pick up Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom when it releases on April 20th.

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