Maskmaker VR Review – Puzzle-Gated Exploration

Maskmaker VR Review

French game developer, InnerspaceVR, cut their teeth with their first game – A Fisherman’s Tale. Like its predecessor, their new game – Maskmaker VR is also a virtual reality puzzle game. Both games also base their main conceit on a unique gameplay mechanic.

In Fisherman, the player saw the virtual world of the lighthouse, the game’s setting, through the first person POV Protagonist who sees themselves as a puppet in a scale house model of the lighthouse. In Maskmaker VR, this time the twist is the player sees themselves in terms of the masks created. This is important because the masks are magical and act as portals to other worlds.

You play the game as a mask maker’s apprentice who must learn and improve your mask-making craft. This skill is vital because you need to confront Prospero, a rival maskmaker who uses mask magic to rule over the world. You must travel through eight worlds to unravel the main storyline by solving mysteries and puzzles.

So the bulk of the gameplay centers on exploring biomes, collecting materials to build masks – which require solving puzzles to attain them, and bringing the materials to a workshop to craft a new mask. New masks allow you to explore new areas upon which the gameplay mechanic cycle starts over again.

MaskMakers VR Mask Making Is Fun

The most intricate part of the game is the actual mask creation. Using a virtual hammer and chisel, you chip away at a wooden block to create a blank mask. Then you take the mask template over to another workstation where two things occur. First, you paint the mask in the necessary color. Then you add the resources collected to the mask. This could be such things as sea shells for example.

With a new mask, you can traverse a previously blocked area by inhabiting the spirit of a citizen who wears the mask you just created. To help you find inhabitants or resources, you have a spyglass. This is a pirate-style telescope through which the view shifts from first person to the spyglass lens. You can zoom in or out to discover and examine far-away items.

The game’s strengths lie in the production values. The art, music, and narration are all top-notch. On the flip side, the game’s biggest weakness is the gameplay cycle. While crafting masks is initially cool, it gets old quickly. You can only chisel, paint, and decorate so many masks as the crafting is pretty shallow.

The other drawback is the hampering of exploration because you constantly need to collect items to build the next mask. The game constantly teases you with the lure of new areas to go to, only to find yourself gated from doing so until you craft the next mask. To further compound the frustration, the items needed are not always in the same world. So this necessitates a lot of backtracking and mask-switching.

Making Masks Is Not Enough

Another knock on the game is the puzzles. They are just not that interesting or varied. Most involve only the press of a lever or the turn of a crank.

A further irritant lies with the controls. The game overall is just too sluggish. Every movement action makes you feel like you are pushing through sand. Turning, walking, and even running all happen at a pace just a hair too slow. You always feel like the game is three steps behind where you feel you should be.

The narration is a mixed bag too. There’s no problem with the quality of the voice acting. It’s very good. The problem is that there is so much of it. He gives you constant explanations or prompts about everything in the environment. So often silence would be very welcome.

One must applaud InnerspaceVR for coming up with unique gameplay mechanics. What has been lacking in their games to date is gameplay depth. This can either be game length – A Fisherman’s Tale only takes about ninety minutes to complete – and/or the depth of the gameplay mechanics. With Maskmaker, the length issue has been somewhat addressed. There are more worlds to explore, but the need to backtrack makes their exploration lengthened artificially.

A Step In The Right Direction

You can see the growth of InnerspaceVR as a game developer from Fisherman to Maskmaker. Hopefully, with their next project, they will fine-tune their approach and create a game that is both artistically and gameplay-wise, satisfying.

If you are patient and OK with playing a slower-paced game, Maskmaker is definitely worth a look.


*** Meta Quest 2 code provided by the publisher ***

The Good

Cool Masks
Excellent Music and Narration
Unique gameplay mechanic


The Bad

Lack luster puzzles
Limited Gameplay Mechanic
Sluggish controls