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by Kathleen M. Fischer


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Number of Reviews: 5
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1-5 of 5

Shortish 1800's romance game with many endings and few puzzles, February 3, 2016
This game was nominated for an xyzzy award for Best Story when it came out, and I agree that the story is excellent.

You are an independent young woman trying to run a business but running into trouble due to the male-dominated society. You encounter a few suitors while trying to save your business.

The puzzles are fairly light, until the ending. Then it branches into a lot of endings. I found 6 endings and it was hard to tell what made me get them.

Also, the game is pretty short, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Overall, a pleasant game, especially for those interested in romance games.

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Very fun!, January 19, 2011
by Pip
Related reviews: romance love
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.

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Ticket to Frustration, July 4, 2010
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)
I'm not really sure why this game generates the kind of praise it does. Then again, I'm mystified why Shadows on the Mirror and Violet did as well. Masquerade is a lot like Shadows in the sense that if you don't read the author's mind, you'll never make it anywhere in the game. Unlike that game, however, Masquerade mercifully doesn't keep the torment going. If you decide to leave the first room (I was thinking that I'd come back later or maybe look for a side entrance), BOOM, game over. I was shocked and angry, but chastened.

So I tried again, this time using a little more patience. After five minutes of guess-the-verb, I concluded that I'd need a walkthrough to get past the first puzzle. As a rule, I loathe walkthroughs, but I absolutely will not use one for the first puzzle. Why is it that IF romances are all such tortures?

What I saw of the game balanced out its sparkling prose and interesting PC with a horrifically frustrating gameplay. I don't know if the rest of Masquerade is just as vexing, but I didn't want to find out.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A Fine Romance, June 22, 2008
by Rose (New Zealand)
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.

11 of 11 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.

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