Maskmaker was released on PC and PlayStation 4 without fanfare and is still one of the most beautiful trips of the first half of 2021, which is lived exclusively in virtual reality. If you have an Oculus Quest, Rift, PS VR or HTC Vive and the idea of sculpting wooden masks with extraordinary properties appeals to you, the following lines may be of interest to you. France clearly has an incredible talent when it comes to transporting us to wonderful and poetic worlds. Maskmaker is therefore the new production of the Parisian studio Innerspace VR, which had already enchanted us with A Fisherman’s Tale. However, Maskmaker’s ambition is greater, with the idea of transporting us to different wonderful worlds via wooden masks. Test conditions The game was tested on a PC (Steam) with the Oculus Quest 2 headset connected with the link cable. Maskmaker is compatible with all PC headsets available on the market: HTC Vive, Rift S, Valve Index, Windows Mixed Reality … It is also available for PS4 and PS5 with the PS VR. Pitcher Maskmaker is not that simple: you play as “yourself” and you are invited to enter the shop of a mask maker. The place has long been deserted and we understand from the beginning that things went badly between the master and his apprentice. After a few minutes of walking, watching a broken mirror, a game of chess and some very nice examples of masks, a first riddle allows us to enter the manufacturing workshop. A voice-over (ubiquitous, a little too much even, but we’ll come back to this) invites us to take a piece of wood, a hammer, and a chisel to create our first mask. The gestures come naturally, the motion detection works perfectly and our first work materializes in front of our fascinated eyes. After we’ve dipped the mask in the color that matches the production diagram, the voice-over asks us to put the mask on. And this is where the game really begins, because each mask you create puts you in different parts of an imaginary area. You’ll begin your exploration on a quiet beach, then set out to discover a village lost in the mountains before crossing a mushroom-eaten swamp forest. These are just a few examples, and the game then consists of a mix of exploration, observation and puzzling in which you have to get your hands on a whole range of natural elements that you will use in making new masks that will allow you to get into the Story to move forward. But there’s a twist as each new mask is discovered by looking through binoculars at a motionless character that can be played. Maskmaker plays a major role in this: if you change the body, you can solve many puzzles (e.g. pass an object in a basket underneath and then recover it with the other body high up using a pulley system) and give your part a good rhythm . Discovering a new mask pattern is always an important moment that can come with some frustration when we find we are missing elements to create it. We then have to look for them, sometimes go back and even change kingdoms. Progress in the game is also relatively linear, as you have quick access to the game’s three kingdoms (each divided into two large areas) that you can traverse in the order you want. Creating a Mask and Discovery of a New Area It will be difficult to say more because discovery is so much in the interests of Maskmaker. Note, however, that Innerspace VR’s title is quite fluid, although at the beginning we can go around in circles looking for such or such ingredients. The level of the puzzles remains quite simple, but they are mostly very clever, comprise several parts of the decor and regularly require real coordination between our different masked avatars. In terms of lifespan, we’re on good average for this type of game as the story ends in 5 or 6 hours.
A bit of “travel”
On the scenario side, we quickly understand that the worlds we are exploring are somehow frozen in time and that they must be awakened to restore their past greatness. The story is as simple as it is beautiful and can be interpreted on different levels, as some clues discovered provoke illness or even depression. In addition, and this is undoubtedly one of the game’s rare mistakes, a narrator (in subtitled English or in French) comments on the action very regularly, relying a little too much on what could happen to comments. The “philosophical” sentences on the masks, which are repeated too often when you are in the workshop, are also a little annoying. Perhaps the environmental storytelling deserves a little more work, to the detriment of this generally successful but not always necessary “vocal” storytelling. Technically, with a “clean” unreal engine, but with textures that sound pretty simple, Maskmaker can sound pretty simple with a lack of detail. It doesn’t matter, because this relative technical poverty is balanced out by an excellent artistic orientation, which gives great importance to grandiose landscapes and scale games. Each world visited is radically different from the next and the landscape increases as the game progresses. From the peaks of a snow-capped mountain to the driest desert to the hundred-year-old tree canopy, Maskmaker is a constant invitation to travel and to be curious. There are many moments of grace here, especially when you have reached the end of a puzzle and witness the transformation of the landscape. A visual and acoustic sensitivity reminiscent of Jenova Chen’s games. In short, if you are sensitive to the poetry of a journey or a flower, the new game from Innerspace has every chance to touch you deeply. Notes + positive points The concept of creating masks An excellent artistic direction A poetry at all times A fast game, neither too short nor too long-negatives A narrator sometimes too present Technically a little limited A lack of challenge that could hinder We could die use good old metaphor of travel and destination, but in this particular case both are equally important. Thanks to its attractive concept, pleasant rhythm and great artistic direction, Maskmaker is indeed an undeniable success. The new game from Innerspace VR takes on virtual reality directly by getting us to impersonate a series of avatars and uses the medium with clever, if quite simple, puzzles. Playing with masks, sculpting them, painting them and then wearing them to go to a fallen kingdom in search of its king: it’s hard to tell a more poetic story. Already one of the best virtual reality games of 2021. Journalist jeuxvideo.com April 27, 2021 at 15:07:40 Readers’ opinions Give your opinion on this game!
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