Become a ruthless, noble lady in this 'Renaissance revenge simulator'

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Your wealthy father and brother have been killed by distasteful schemers, and now you're to be married off to one of them. Can you plan your brutal revenge without arousing suspicion—while acting like a perfect courtly lady?

Masques and Murder, by James Patton, is part interactive fiction, part statistical role-playing game. You manage the life of the orphaned Justitia, a young woman at court who must prepare for masquerades and music concerts while secretly nursing your fury and winning over your distasteful suitors so they'll be easy to kill.

It's a real delightful concept: There are all sorts of "princess maker"-style simulations about raising a character, often a girl, to grace and success by prizing certain skills over others; the wonderful Long Live the Queen turns this formula on its head, forcing you to keep one step ahead of a courtly world that wants to kill you.

But in this game, the statistics that are used to make a "lady"—your knowledge of verse, theology, music and dance—actually lull your evil suitors into vulnerability to the more lethal trades you study. During the tutorial, the three distasteful nobles are introduced to you after the fashion of a visual novel, a fun subversion of the "which bachelor do you choose to pursue" trope.

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The goal is to manage your statistics such that you can quietly kill off all three evil men and avenge your family. The Renaissance setting, full of classical music and maudlin paintings of skulls and roses—all the art the game samples is genuine period pieces—is a wonderful tonal backdrop for feeling like a creature of grace with steel and fire underneath.

You can play Masques and Murder for free, but the developer suggests a $5 donation if you enjoy the game.

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