Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth - PS4 Review


Following where its predecessor Mask of Deception left of, Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth completes the story of Haku and his now not as merry band of friends from the first game. Mask of Truth follows from the first game, and improves a bunch of the major gripes I had with the previous instalment. Fair warning, there are spoilers ahead for the first game.

After the assassination of the Mikado, attempted brainwashing of Anju, and general misfortune that ended the first game, we pick up right where the last game left off. While Haku is dealing with the heavy responsibility of masquerading as Oshtor, and Nekone’s depression over having basically been the cause of her brothers death, a battle is brewing, and war waits for no persons emotional stability. Mask of Truth is markedly more dark, but that doesn’t mean it’s in any way worse than Mask of Deception.

All the story elements and characters that were great in Mask of Deception make their return, provided they’re still alive, and all the great story telling elements are still there. Mask of Truth is still a visual novel through and through, but as a sequel it definitely learns, feeling much easier to get through without feeling forced to sit down and just trudge through. While Mask of Deception often felt like I was halfway forcing myself to play through, Mask of Truth felt a lot more fluid, especially from a reviewing perspective, as normally visual novels have to be something I really want to sit down to, otherwise they feel like a chore. Thankfully, due to more interspersed battles and a more active narrative, Mask of Truth solves this issue.


If you’ve played Mask of Deception, then you already basically know how the game plays out. Essentially, you’ve got story, the occasional battle or two, some more story, some more battles etc, etc. The battles take place as a turn based system on a grid, a la Fire Emblem. Higher agility ratings mean that characters turns come faster and more frequent. As I mentioned in the other Utawarerumono review, I actually really enjoyed the battle system.

There’s nothing particularly complicated or convoluted, you have your basic attack combos or skill combos, and an overlimit gauge that’ll give you an immediate turn and stat boosts while filled. The combos unlock as you level up, and are “active”, similar to Legend of Dragoon, where you actually have to hit the X button at the right time to either score a critical hit or continue the combo. Longer combos and skills may use Zeal, which is your MP gauge and overlimit gauge, and will mostly fill up while attacking. You can choose how far through a combo you want to go through as well, in case it uses Zeal and you want to save the Zeal for something else.

The game is also really kind about notifying you what the expected outcome of an attack will be, which is useful for determining future strategies, or using limited usage per battle type skills. Always better to evade an attack that will kill you over one that does little damage if the evades are limited. It’s also useful for checking elemental weaknesses and resistances. Utawarerumono has the standard elemental circle, where one beats another, but the in-battle indications can be a little confusing at times, as it says adv for advantage and dis for disadvantage, but doesn’t specify for whom, so trying an attack on an enemy with an indicator and one without will let you know which is which if you check the expected results.


A lot of the time in these styles of Visual Novels, my biggest concern is proper leveling of characters, because battles are normally limited, so if you spec a character wrong or make a mistake it needs a restart in some cases. With both Utawarerumono’s, this problem is solved rather handily. Basically, units gets experience from performing actions, so if you attack an enemy, you’ll still get experience.

Also, unlike Mask of Deception, you actually earn exp from buff and healing moves this time, making leveling those “battle medics” on your team that much simpler. Additionally, battles can be re-fought basically whenever the game provides you the opportunity, which is incredibly often. This means you can either replay a stage you had fun on, or simply grind for more items and levels so that you can progress. Coupled with the bonus points you earn every time you complete a stage, which can be used to enhance character stats, you’re given all the tools to succeed as long as you make use of them, even if strategy type RPGs aren’t your thing. Also including a rollback function that’ll allow you to return to previous moves makes planning easier, as if you forgot about that enemy near your healer, you can rewind to the healer’s turn and move out of range either before or after an action.

Coupled with a really fitting and well-composed soundtrack, and wonderful hand drawn backgrounds and anime stylized character portraits, Mask of Truth also has its artistic aspect on show. While Mask of Truth fleshes out a lot of the problems with its predecessor, it suffers from a lot of the same problems that most visual novels do, which mainly consists of the fact that it has to be something you really want to sit down and play, and generally not something you’re told to.


Between the helpful synopsis and fact that it isn’t mandatory to play the first game, if you’d prefer to pick up with Mask of Truth and ignore Mask of Deception you could, although I feel as if you’d be significantly less invested in the characters. I can honestly say that the battle system was good and, above all else, the story is really engaging, so you’d be left out if you didn’t at least either read the other media available or watch the anime.

That being said, there are some fairly major changes between the game and anime, and the game is more canon. If you’ve played Mask of Deception, you want to play Mask of Truth. Not only is it the conclusion, it’s vastly improved. Even if you haven’t played Mask of Deception, Mask of Truth is a solid entry in the visual novel category for sure.

Game Information

Platform:
Sony PlayStation 4
Developer(s):
Aquaplus
Publisher(s):
Atlus
Genre(s):
RPG
Mode(s):
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
None

Source:
Purchased




Article by Richard
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