Earlier this week, I had a chance to join a select group of games journalists in getting a sneak peek behind the scenes of InnerspaceVR’s new, upcoming title, Maskmaker. Published by MWM Interactive, this new VR title is the follow-up to the studio’s award-winning 2019 game A Fisherman’s Tale. It aims to deliver the same level of quality that the previous VR experience became known for, offering an adventurous puzzler and mystery to solve through experimentation and exploration. It looks absolutely delightful, and I’m here to share a bit about what we experienced.
InnerspaceVR co-founder and creative director Balthazar Auxietre led us through a demo of Maskmaker and shared his own insight and inspiration for the game based on very personal experiences. We were also joined by Richard Turco (Managing Director, InnerspaceVR), Ethan Stearns (EVP of Content, MWMi), and Nick Ahrens (Executive Producer, MWMi.) We got a first-ever hands-off look at how the mechanisms of mask-making work in Maskmaker, including not only the crafting of the masks themselves but the magical properties they impart, which allow greater access to the game.
But before we get into those specifics, be sure to check out the newly released trailer here, plus a general overview of the game itself:
Maskmaker is the follow-up title from InnerspaceVR, the award-winning Paris-based VR creation studio behind the mind-bending escape game A Fisherman’s Tale. Maskmaker transports players into a magical mask workshop to meet Prospero, the powerful “leader” of the mask realm, who invites them into his workshop to become his new apprentice. As players learn how to craft magical masks, they will soon discover that their newfound ability allows them to transport to different worlds and possess the various guardians within the mask realm. Players will need to explore each world to collect rare resources, solve puzzles and develop their crafting skills to prove they are worthy of being a Maskmaker. From mask-to-mask and puzzle-to-puzzle, players will make their way through the mask realm to seek Prospero and ultimately unravel the truth behind this identity.
During the demo, Auxietre showed off one of the core features of Maskmaker, the mask-making itself. Essentially, you’re the maskmaker’s apprentice, responsible for creating magical masks in order to solve a curious mystery at the heart of the story. You’ll play in first-person perspective VR, using a Spyglass to witness other masks worn by denizens of the world, thus forming a blueprint from which to create a new mask for you to wear. You’ll literally have to chisel the base mask out of a wooden block before customizing it with paint and various add-ons found while exploring the world. But why make these masks at all? What do they do exactly?
Our first introduction to Maskmaker took place towards the end of the tutorial section, a sunny, beachy region dubbed the Archipelago. It’s here we also got a look at the two-pronged movement tech; you have either the free-roam or teleport option, which allows you to jump forward on your path. (The game also employs “telegrab”, allowing you to easily obtain items if they’re within reach, making the sometimes-clunky VR controls much breezier.) We were soon transported back to the hub “world” of the Maskmaker’s workshop, complete with paint, mask stands, a mannequin, and more. But unlike other hub worlds that use doorways, gates, teleporters, or other conveyances to get you from place to place, Maskmaker uses (wait for it) masks! Each new mask will allow you to “possess” whoever wore that mask in each environment, with you acting as a sort of puppet-master in order to solve puzzles and open those worlds up to further exploration.
Take, for example, a mask-wearing character stuck in the middle of a gondola ride suspended over a wintry chasm, with your player character stuck on the near side. You can swap between masks, allowing you to switch between both characters. So while one operates the gondola itself, the other enjoys the ride until it stops at the other side. Switch to the latter mask and presto, you can continue your journey of exploration. That’s just the very basic mechanic of Maskmaker, a mechanic that will test your ingenuity as the puzzles increase in complexity while you play.
Beyond the puzzle-solving and mystery-discovering aspects of Maskmaker, the game itself is just beautiful. It reminds me of Myst in the best possible way, a somewhat underpopulated environment packed with multiple biomes, like a snow-covered mountain peak, a misty swamp, and a sunny beach. You’ll find about half-a-dozen biomes to explore, each taking you, on average, about an hour to complete, though earlier levels will obviously go more quickly than some of the more complicated later stages.
And I can’t wait to see how complex those puzzles get as you progress. This brief tease, which also included hints as to the mystery surrounding King Prospero and the curious statues and towers scattered throughout the biomes, was a perfect appetizer for the full release of Maskmaker. It’ll arrive on Oculus Rift S and Quest (via Link cable), PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and PC VR via SteamVR on April 20, 2021.
Maskmaker was created with the support of Creative Europe, MEDIA program of the European Union and with the support of the Ile-de-France region. It will feature English and French audio with English, French, and German interface and subtitles. You can find out more about the upcoming title at the following links:
‘Nomadland’ director Chloe Zhao appears to have been able to maintain her signature style on the MCU film.
About The Author