MASQUERADE: THE BAUBLES OF DOOM
Developed and Published by Big Ant Studios
Available on PC
Everyone wants to get their hands on the mythical Druid Orbs, a pair of balls that will grant the power to rule all. Over the centuries, many have tried to steal the orbs without luck but a bunch of clowns led by Big Nose reckon they they could be the ones to do so. In their path are jester Jaxx and his partner in crime, Comedia, who have the map to the Druid Orbs. Determined to get their hands on it, the clowns kidnap Comedia forcing Jaxx to rescue her and stop the map falling into the wrong hands.
Action-adventure platforming game MASQUERADE: THE BAUBLES OF DOOM puts you into the shoes of jester Jaxx. You must traverse the lands, bounce from awning to awning and fight off the clown army to rescue his beloved Comedia and stop the clowns for good. With its puzzles, platform jumping and baddie crushing, the game is a throwback to the platformers of the 90’s such as Crash Bandicoot and Croc.
Each level opens up with terrific 2D animation cutscenes that bridge the gap between gameplay and bring the story up to date with slick design and great humour. The in-game artwork is not quite as sharp with an almost artistic filter to it to give a cartoonish feel but is nevertheless still fantastic to look at.
Throughout the game, you’ll find that the most of the time you’ll be fighting off the clown army. The combat has a Warner Bros. Batman feel to it but isn’t as refined or fluid as in that game. It’s sometimes hard to build up decent combos or react quickly as the combat mechanics feel clunky when attempting to string anything more than a three move combo together. Counter attacking is a big part of the game too especially as the game progresses when you find Jaxx being attacked by a group of clowns all at once. In these moments, there’s often a spawning location nearby in the form of an outhouse toilet so in order to stop the constant stream of clown assassins, you must destroy the wooden outhouse. This can sometimes be easier said than done especially when archer clowns are hiding in the background shooting arrows into you from a distance whilst the shielded heavies gang up on you. Each time a clown is defeated, you get their red nose as a reward. When you demolish a spawning point, you’re reward with several noses, all of which fill up a special meter for you to be able to unleash a heavy attack that will wipe out one or two clowns, depending on your aim. The deeper you get into the game, the special ability is upgraded so that you can wipe out a group of heavies in one go. This becomes very helpful during the boss fight at the end of each level where a group of clown lackies attempt to help their boss to destroy you.
MASQUERADE: THE BAUBLES OF DOOM is an enjoyable adventure game despite its repetitive gameplay mechanics. It’s not a patch on Crash and Spyro but to have a game akin to them, as this is, is wonderful enough especially as platformers of this ilk are becoming as rare as rocking horse poo. The comedy angle is where MASQUERADE: THE BAUBLES OF DOOM excels though with its voice acting and dialogue providing fun, tongue-in-cheek humour right from the very beginning with those golden Druid Orbs. Each of the characters have their own personality, even the clowns who often look alike. I mean, who can forget poor Jimmy the clown who dated Miss July?
MASQUERADE: THE BAUBLES OF DOOM is a terrific effort from Big Ant Studios. Its platforming aspect becomes challenging enough at points whilst its combat increases in difficulty as you progress through the levels. With the ability to only save the game after completing each level and not able to load the game at a checkpoint during the middle of the level means players will be desperate to finish the level once started. Dying within the game isn’t an issue with the player able to replay from one of the level’s many checkpoints but quit the game and you’ll find yourself having to replay that unfinished level.
With enough of a challenge, MASQUERADE: THE BAUBLES OF DOOM is one pleasant platformer worth checking out.
MASQUERADE: THE BAUBLES OF DOOM is playable with an Xbox controller for Windows and features Steam trading cards, leaderboard and achievements.