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About the Story
"You walk purposefully down the sidewalk, looking neither left nor right. You don't need to look; you can tell you are being watched from whispers overheard as you pass by.
Nominee, Best Story - 2000 XYZZY Awards
A romance in the spirit of Plundered Hearts, though the scope is somewhat narrower--it's closer to being a series of connected scenes. At the end, however, there's suddenly quite a bit of branching--there are at least 10 possible endings. There aren't many puzzles, but the story is entertaining and reasonably unpredictable. The best thing about the game, arguably, is the PC, who is far more vividly characterized than most (again, somewhat in the spirit of Plundered Hearts, whose PC had much more personality than those of most Infocom games). A good entry in an underpopulated IF genre.
-- Duncan Stevens
"Masquerade" is an excellent work of story-based IF in a little-used genre (romance, specifically, Civil-War era romance). It is perhaps the most immersive game I've played yet this year. When I started playing, my mind was still spinning with outside thoughts and residual stress. Soon, I became utterly engrossed in the well-sketched gameworld and all else faded to black.
-- Suzanne Britton
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It's interesting. I'm not a big romance story fan, but I am a fan of historical romance... perhaps because I'm a big fan of historical -anything-. And this story is set in a period that I find fascinating. So right from the start, I was interested.
But it wouldn't have held if the game wasn't so extremely well constructed....
-- Tina Sikorski
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
[This review is based on the competition release.]
Between the bugs and my inability to get anywhere with the puzzles (or even find them), I didn't enjoy Masquerade nearly as much as I wanted to. If you haven't played it yet, wait for the next release -- the author has always shown a strong commitment to fixing problems, so I've no doubt there will be one. Once the bugs have been fixed and better hints are available, Masquerade will have a great deal to offer fans of genre romance. In this incarnation, though, I'm afraid it was a bit of a disappointment.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Something strange happened when I first played Masquerade. I found that I didn't know what to type. And I liked it. Of course, I knew what I could type to advance the story - 'yes' or 'no' - but which choice would work out better for our beleaguered heroine?
A lot is made of whether IF games should have puzzles or simply be about following bread crumbs through a linear story, so I think it's important to remember the games that break free of this dichotomy. There are few, if any intentional puzzles in Masquerade - but it still challenges players by confronting them with typical, but well-constructed romance-genre decisions - do you marry for money? If so, how quickly do you try to pursue true love unfaithfully? And is your 'true love' really all he's cracked up to be anyway?
On repeat plays, Masquerade turns out to actually be a very linear game. The choices you make have only a small effect on the path you take. And yet, the game wouldn't be the same without them. Somehow, I found an unhappy proposition of marriage to be as much of a challenge as a locked door - with the added bonus that when I'd dwelled on it long enough, I could immediately move forward through the story.
Of course, I did say that there were no intentional puzzles. Masquerade falls at the very last hurdle. In what is probably, for many players, the scene before the 'expected' ending, the game requires you to type something relatively obscure to perform what is surely the most obvious thing for the player to do in this situation - a problem exacerbated by the way the scene makes the opposite choice for you if you take too long. For the record, the phrase to type is: (Spoiler - click to show)TAKE TICKETS. There are a few instances like this, where the game seems to push you a little roughly to do things that could be better clued, but otherwise I think that Masquerade demonstrates how players can still feel challenged by an IF game with no puzzles.
Graham Nelson once said that IF is a narrative at war with a crossword. In Masquerade, narrative won. The writing is wonderful, and the PC brilliantly characterized. The conversation style, however, causes a somewhat linear structure. You are pretty much forced to follow the plot, with no choice as to what your player says to the other characters. The puzzles, though not many, are interesting -- I liked the opening puzzle. The compass rose was a nice touch.
Progressing to the next stage of the plot sometimes requires an unobvious action, and I was constantly jerked out of the story with a guess-the-verb problem or being unsure what to do next. (Spoiler - click to show)It is possible to stay in the coach (both of them) forever if you don't stumble upon the right action. Another glaring problem: when Ethan first asks you to dance, you must type >HIGHWAYMAN, YES. Typing >DANCE WITH HIGHWAYMAN won't work. However, when you dance with him later, as well as with Jonathan, you must type >DANCE WITH ETHAN/JONATHAN. (And you can't call Ethan by his name when he is wearing his highwayman costume.) Once I got to the end, I had a great deal of trouble finding a satisfactory ending, let alone the best one (As of June '08, I still haven't found it). Often, at the end, you can make a move which will bring you to an ending without you realizing it will do so.
Despite its weaknesses, I did enjoy Masquerade. I'll admit that I did not like the conversation system as much as I would have had I not played Pytho's Mask the day before; and give this game a deserved four.
I'm not at all an expert on interactive fiction - this was the very first game I have played - but all the same I felt that this was created very well. It was fun to play, and easy too, except for the puzzle at the beginning. I gave up out of frustration the first time I tried, unable to get past Simon at the door at the very beginning. But the second time I tried I got it, and was able to play through the game. The only thing I would critique about the game is that it's not very easy to actually CHOOSE what happens in the end, but I suppose that is because the main character already has a very set personality, which doesn't give in well to some of the player's choices.
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