Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception
Roughly translated “Legendsung” or “One who is sung of.”
This ninety percent Kinetic Visual Novel and ten percent Strategy Role Playing Game, combines together to form a well distinguished story following the extinction of humans and the new world that comes from it.
This is a very well done game/VN that does not really have a lot of problems, yet there can be some issues for those who think the pacing is off or the story is not informing enough. One minor (but could be big) problem would be the SRPG sequences that cut off the VN aspects. These segments, while actually enjoyable and help to connect the player to the game more, come few and far in between. You may get your first glimpse of action in the first two or three hours of the game, only to be disappointed that you need to read another five to ten hours for the next battle to take place. This is not too problematic early on and late game where they place battles close to each other. Yet, when you are reading for ten hours straight and still have no action going on, I can see some people would struggle to get through the story or even stop playing. They did place these battles in decent locations and they do help to deter some of the story that players are reading. Yet, they come so rarely mid-game that you may be doing a lot of free battles, just to keep yourself entertained. Yes there are free battles and they are worth doing on hard mode for the extra (in battle XP) and Battle Points, used to upgrade characters, but they are pretty much the same battle as the first time.
While the story is very exceptional and is definitely worth a read, there are sometimes I felt that the story was side tracking into some odd event that could have been removed and still kept the story together. These side tracks can confuse the player and maybe even make the player question why they were added in the first place. These are not as common, but they also do occur in some odd moments while the story may be trying to make a point.
Now this may not be as bad, since I did some research and thought I found this was only a first part of the story, but they do add some ideas and concepts that do not get explained very well (if at all). This is more common with enemies disappearing and not reappearing, or with events happening and very little gets explained about what happened or how they will try to fix the problem. This is especially a problem in one battle where the enemies change suddenly and then dissolve into a substance. They do not explain why this change occurred or why they change into the substance when defeated. Yet as I mentioned, I do believe that I read somewhere that this was only a part one and they will have a second one coming out, maybe, to explain the rest of the story.
For a Visual Novel fan, like myself, the story is definitely a must read. It is so well developed, has a wide range of characters and goes through a very detailed explanation on the world. Sure there are some minor mishaps in details, or a few side track scenes, but those are few and far in between that the main story can provide enough for the readers. It follows an amnesiac protagonist, probably didn’t see that coming, as they travel through the world of Yamato recruiting allies and completing jobs for the Imperial Court. The group is put into various jobs ranging from patrol duty, cleaning the market place, harvesting supplies and event war. We learn a lot about the characters and they all connect to each other bringing their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses. There is some fan service with baths scenes, tentacle hugs and clothing mishaps, but these are small scenes that add to characters personality. One minor issue I had is that I like to save some of the CG images and share them with friends, yet this game pretty much blocks out eighty percent of the game through the PlayStation Scene Blocking mechanic on the PS4.
I know I mentioned the SRPG moments in the cons, yet I was more mentioning the frequency and not the actual gameplay itself. The battles themselves are actually really enjoyable and once you have your first taste of action in this game, you will want more. That is why the frequency of the battles kind of ruins this game a little. They do not call them QTEs, but they are similar to that concept. You try to push the button (pretty much X) at the right timing to add critical damage to your attacks or spells. There may be a shrinking ring that you wait till it gets to a full circle to push the button or a giant circle where you hold the button until it fills up all the way. These two combinations can help diversify the actions you take and keep the player on toes for when and what timing they need to use. They are actually not very hard to do once you get use to them and they do help quite a lot in the later battles. They even give you some flashy Final Strike attack when you unlock it, which does a large amount of damage, and helps with some of the tougher foes that you may encounter.
All in all, this is a Visual Novel that has some Strategy Role Playing Game aspects in it, that may interest anyone who prefers Visual Novels. Players who enjoy SRPGs may also enjoy this if they can get past all the reading (fifty hours), but they may find the reading to interfere with their normal concept of playing. With the rise of VNs recently, it has always been hard to find a fan base, since it requires a lot of reading, yet if there are players out there who are willing to give this game a try, they should not be that disappointed with their choice.