Local video game Masquerada is truly a work of art
It uses a rustic art style inspired by French comic books while boasting a cast of prominent voice actors from the US.
But under the beautiful mask of Masquerada: Songs and Shadows lies a heart that was conceived and built – right here, in Singapore.
After two years of development, the 2.5D isometric tactical role-playing game by local game maker Witching Hour Studios was released for PC on Steam last Friday (Sept 30) for US$24.99 ($34).
It is also available to try out this weekend at GameStart Asia 2016, which is being held at Suntec Convention Centre Halls 405 and 406 from 11am to 8pm.
Masquerada is such a gorgeous game, Witching Hour creative director Ian Gregory Tan often hears gamers say they cannot believe it was fully-developed in the Lion City.
"I get it all the time - including the other games we make!" the 31-year-old told The New Paper on the sidelines of GameStart on Friday.
"There's this general belief that Singaporeans are unable to lead creative endeavours.
"Masquerada is a project that, from pre-production and concept all the way down to the polish of the game, is Singaporean."
Witching Hour Studios creative director Ian Gregory Tan speaks to a gamer at GameStart Asia 2016 about Masquerada. TNP PHOTO: GREGORY LOO
I gave the full version of Masquerada a whirl at GameStart - and I was certainly blown away.
The staff at Witching Hour have poured their hearts into the fictitious city of Ombre and it definitely shows.
From its beautiful art style to the depth of the game's lore - within Ombre there is a variety of castes and factions featuring a multitude of ranks - it is clear that the universe of Masquerada has been crafted with utmost love and care.
"The majority of what is awesome about the game's lore comes from Nicholas Chan, our in-house writer," said Mr Tan.
"He has built a world that is incredibly beautiful and melancholic."
The story follows Cicero Gavar, a former high-ranking official, who is summoned from exile back to Ombre to investigate the disappearance of a friend.
On top of that, the characters are brought to life by the wonderful voices of actors like Matthew Mercer (Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil), Jennifer Hale (Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series), Ashly Burch (Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2) and Felicia Day, who is known for her roles in TV shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Supernatural.
And like any good detective novel, Masquerada's intriguing story makes it almost impossible to put down - I only (reluctantly) left the Witching Hour booth after an hour of playing because I had work to do.
I'm certainly not alone.
To date, the game has been downloaded several thousand times on Steam according to Mr Tan and the feedback they have received on social media has been good.
The game currently has a rating of 8 out of 10 on Steam.
He said: "It's been really positive and I'm very glad that some people have been really touched by the story.
"These are very personable characters who are very realistic and go through their own trials and tribulations.
"Between that and the art and the music, the reviews have been very good. I've been getting a lot of personal e-mails from people who have been very taken by what they've seen."
Clearly, Masquerada is putting Witching Hour on the global map - something that all Singaporeans should be proud of.
This isn't just a world-class video game - it's truly a work of art.
Made in Singapore, no less.