I had no idea what to think of Bloodmasque when I first saw it. It's an strange mash-up of Infinity Blade-esque fighting, RPG, and what looked like leftovers from Vampire the Masquerade. The main draw seemed very gimmicky: the ability to import a picture of your face, which was then mapped to the Unreal Engine models. I grabbed it on a whim, thinking I'd have a little fun with the with the face importer, but not expecting anything much. 10 hours later, I'm shocked to find myself completely addicted to this deep, engaging, beautiful, and fun game that is in turns awesome, ridiculous, and hilarious.
The basic set-up for the game is that you are a vampire hunter in 19th century Paris. The story does have it's share of standard Squeenix melodrama, but I actually found it to be very engaging. Drawing in characters from both literature (Van Helsing) and history (Tesla), the game does a nice balancing act between preposterous and serious in telling it's tale.
While the foundation of the game itself is similar to Infinity Blade in that it uses a gesture-based fighting system, I actually prefer Bloodmasque's more frantically paced battles. They require you to watch your enemies closely, timing your attacks and dodges based on their movements. Add in uber attacks (a la limit breaks in FF games), and fights become quick, frantic affairs.
Prior to each battle, players can switch at will between 4 "bloodclans" which provide unique abilities, and recruiting comrades that support your current bloodclan and skillset becomes crucial at the later levels. You receive XP in the form of blood which levels up your overall character, as well as the currently selected bloodclan individually. It makes for some interesting leveling choices: do you max out one bloodclan and recruit comrades to cover your weaknesses, or develop a more balanced approach that might not be quite as powerful but can survive multiple challenges. Completing missions also nets you inventory items, which come with their own unique sets of abilities. Between leveling the bloodclans and the unique weapon sets, there's a near infinite number of ways to build a character.
The face-importing mechanic is surprisingly fun. You can import three images into the game: casual, pleased, and angry. It then maps your face onto the character model during both cutscenes and combat, changing between the looks as the situation warrants. It's a little tough getting something that doesn't resemble a mutant, but it's awesome once you do. These faces are seen by other players as well (which can be turned off if you're concerned about privacy), and folks have gotten really creative with it. During my last battle, one of my companions had a normal face during "casual" scenes, which then switched to what I can only assume was his cat during "angry" scenes. I couldn't help but bust out laughing
It's got a social aspect that is very well implemented. Similar to Dragon's Dogma, you recruit other player's characters to fight with you, and have the ability to tap into their unique skills and abilities. They are then provided with XP and possibly items after a successful mission. Logging on each morning to see that multiple players had used Gratch the Hunter overnight and left me a chunk of XP is pretty damn cool. The only downside is that this integration requires an always-on internet connection...this sucked when my internet went down last weekend. Toucharcade
(5/5) and Slidetoplay
(4/4) both loved it. I think these scores may be a bit inflated (could have used less repetition in enemy models, there is some grinding required, getting around the overworld was clunky, and the music got repetitive), it is certainly something that is worth a look. Hit me up if you're playing, my code is 3423-5719 (go to Barracks--> Enlist and you can enter my code).