Today, Innerspace and MWM Interactiveshowcased a new trailer fortheir upcoming puzzle virtual realitygame, Maskmaker. Game Rant, though, recently had the chance to see the game in more depth, thanks to a hands-off demonstration by Innerspace co-founder and creative director Balthazar Auxietre, Innerspace managing director Richard Turco, MWM's EVP of content Ethan Stearns, and MWM's executive producer Nick Ahrens.
The recently-revealed Maskmaker trailer really gives viewers a taste of what the game is about, but thanks to this hands-off demonstration, a more clear picture of its core gameplay loop is made abundantly clear. And while there's a ton of elements at play, it seems like they all come together to bring Maskmaker's workshop, the mask realm, and its various puzzles to life.
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As the story has been teased so far, players become an apprentice to a Maskmaker named Prospero. He seems to be the master over the entire mask realm and may not actually have the player's best interests at heart, but he does grant them access to his workshop. Here, players will be able to design all the masks they need (and even some that they want) while progressing throughout Maskmaker. In the image above, players can see one mask being painted, while its blueprint sits in the background, mask carving templates abound, and various components are also scattered throughout the room.
To the left is the player's mixture of paints, to the right is the player's pullouts of masks (neither pictured here), and directly behind the painted mask is a mannequin in which it can be set. This is important to note because all of these things come together so that the player can approach designing the masks in whichever way they want, really simulating the authentic experience in VR. They can mix paints and have special vats ready based on the colors they eventually need, or they can focus on one color until it's done. In Maskmaker, players can see their template on a little display pictured above, or they can set it to the side. At the same time, the masks themselves can be made after being set on the head, by working on them while they are sat on the counter, or while holding them.
Indeed, Prospero's workshop truly feels like the player's. It's a body of space the player can trust, one they will return to time and again, and one that feels homely if not exactly customizable. This feeling of setting is amplified by the varied approaches players can take, but also by the fact that they can make whatever type of mask they want. As Innerspace told us, however, there's really no incentive to do this and the mask will not be able to transport the player anywhere, but for those who enjoy the serenity around designing a mask free style, that option is there.
Unlike the hermits of old, though, players cannot just stay in their shack forever. After finding blueprints, components, and all the required materials for a mask and crafting them, players can then put them on. This teleports them into the mask realm, where they've taken over the body of someone who was wearing that particular mask, and they can leave by removing the mask. Players can then explore to find more blueprints (by finding the figures wearing them), find more components, and continue exploring.
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In the mask realm, players will be doing all of this and more. Prospero will be guiding players, giving hints, and more, but players are also tasked with finding various statues and unlocking special towers within each biome. It should be noted that Maskmaker has an estimate playthrough time of 5-6 hours, with roughly 6 biomes and a couple extra levels, and this gives some idea about how long each biome will somewhat take, though complexity does increase as players progress.
During the demonstration, Game Rant got a peek at the Swamps section, but it was mostly the Mountain seen above. The brief demo didn't really seem to do this area justice either, as there was still plenty we could see around the map that the demonstration didn't get to. Overall, the idea of taking one mask off, crafting a new mask, and taking over a new body with said mask is an interesting concept, one which accentuates and improves the game's otherwise standard VR mechanics.
The question becomes: why would a player need to swap masks in order to play Maskmaker? They answer is puzzles, asit is a puzzle-based VR game. Taking off a mask leaves that particular body where it's at, and during the demo, we saw two particular masks being used to solve a puzzle. With one mask, the character was moved on to the gondola. With a mask swap to the other, that gondola was activated, and with yet another mask swap, the player (Balthazar) was able to get across and continue on to the next.
Notably, this was probably the most complex puzzle we saw, but the exciting news is how this would just be a taste. This mountain is still early on in the game, where players are still learning the ropes, so to speak, and as players progress, they will need to craft more in order to solve more, with every element of the game working together to present fun puzzles, detailed mask-making mechanics, and a nice touch of story. Of course, with the game set to release on April 20, there's still a lot of unknown variables, but Maskmaker already presents an interesting case for how its VR world is unlike any other.
Maskmakerwill be available on April 20, 2021 on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Quest (via link cable only), PC VR via SteamVR, and PlayStation VR.
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When Joshua Duckworth received Pokemon Yellow for Christmas at 5-years-old, his fate as a gamer was set. Since then, he's been involved with every step of the gaming industries' growth from the golden PS1 era and the dying days of the arcade to any current gaming trend. When he's not writing, playing his own games, or thinking about writing or playing his games, he's probably the second player to his son's Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu! file. Joshua has an MA degree in English from Jacksonville State University, and the best way to contact him is at email@example.com.
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