So, right off the bat let’s come to some sort of agreement as to how I am going to refer to Utawarerumono: Mask Of Truth as we go forward in this review. I can’t even say it let alone type it numerous times to make reference to it, so from here on in Utawarerumono: Mask Of Truth will be referred to as UMT. It is also only right I admit I never played Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, so I was already on a bit of a back foot. Fans of UMT’s predecessor will know everything there is to know about the game and are no doubt excited by UMT’s release. As an outsider, I struggled slightly with what the game was all about, so I watched some videos and read a few reviews and thought I’d jump in with both feet and give it a bash.
There is a recap of the previous story right at the start of UMT and I found it quite helpful. If you don’t know anything about UMT, or any other game in the series, then basically I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you choose to play it. UMT and the others are very heavily story driven and are presented to you by means of scrolling text which seems to go on forever, or at least until you press the X button to skip. The anime art style is easily recognisable and was an aspect about the game I was a big fan of.
I felt bad for a little while because I have the attention span of a small fish, so reading through countless pages of scrolling text got old very quickly. I’m not taking anything away from the game, and the strong focus on storytelling is maybe something people are interested in, however, the constant skipping of text to voice acting in a different language quickly made my eyes droop and I lost interest. Every time a new character appeared on the screen it sort of refreshed my attention and I was able to pick up where I nodded off. Overall, I thought the voice acting was pretty good, even if I didn’t understand it. It was clear to tell from the acting though what mood the game was in and the well-written text really did paint a solid picture.
UMT is not for everyone and I don’t think you can get more niche if you tried, that being said the story is massive and spread over three games. It’s not all story and text though, there is a very straight forward turn based battle system that is a very welcomed treat after reading page after page of text. The battle system can be tweaked to your own specs too, in the form of switching off animations, etc. which can be handy once you’ve played enough battles and seen all the animations numerous times. This way you can shorten the amount of time battles take to complete.
I’m finding it really hard not to tell you about the story but I really do think if I was to start I wouldn’t stop and would probably pop a spoiler in by mistake. If I can recommend one thing to those who want to play UMT then that’s to start from the first one, jumping in half way through puts you at a massive disadvantage. I was lucky in the sense that there is a load of walkthroughs, etc. on youtube that will help you no end. Whilst Mask of Deception didn’t get much of a western release you won’t have to go far to find a copy.
This visual novel is a bit of an acquired taste, if you have played a game like it before then you know what to expect. I have never played a game like it and to be honest, intially I thought it a welcome change to the fast paced, high octane games we are used to, but maybe not to this depth. The characters are relatable and ,as I mentioned, the art style is superb, although at times it did feel a little wrong, like it was stepping into the realms of hentai! it never did though, thankfully.
I’m not going to be too harsh on UMT and I’m actually going to say give it a go for yourself to make your own judgement. It’s not an easy game to get into but if I’d have started from the beginning then maybe I would have given it more of a chance, but the relentless X button pressing for the first hour of gameplay just spoiled it for me and I had a really difficult time jumping back on the wagon to finish to the game. To be brutal, if I wanted to read a book with pictures I’d buy a comic, not a PS4 game. It is without doubt that the developers put a considerable amount of time into this game and I salute them for doing just that, I do feel however, that it’s for a certain market and it seems that market is quite small.
Thanks to Atlus and Playstation for supporting TiX