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Masquerade

by Kathleen M. Fischer

Historical/Romance
2000

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Number of Reviews: 4
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Tough Choices, May 18, 2008
by C.E.J. Pacian (England)
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.