If you’d asked me recently what types of games I like to play, I would not have mentioned visual novel. Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception has made me add these to the list.
I will admit, at first I thought it was going to be a tactical role-playing game. This element does exist, but is a small percentage of the game. Once I looked into the series I discovered what it’s intentions were.
Utawarerumono series in no way attempts to mask what it is. It was I who had the misconception of what to expect.
Once the plot started to unfold and new characters were introduced I found myself enthralled. Aquaplus can certainly tell a story. It’s rich with character depth and plot development. Haku is the central character who wakes up with no memory.
To make matters even more confusing, he’s in a world where all the people are human-animal hybrids. This means they have tails and animal like ears. This leads to some humorous events fairly early on. He is cared for from the start by a native woman name Koun. She is adamant about helping him get settled and back on his feet. As their relationship develops so does their adventure. I was drawn into the story so much I didn’t even notice I had basically just been reading for almost six hours.
The story is fully voice acted with subtitles/text on colorful characters and backgrounds. At first I was like ‘Is that it?’ That question left my mind after a while as I got so into it. The relationships between the characters drives the magic of the plot. Haku seems to always find interesting and gifted people.
He also has a few hilarious encounters with them. Sometimes strangely erotic or dangerously life threatening, it’s just the right balance.
The world that the story takes place in is rather interesting. Its inhabitants are generally human for the most part. As far as I could tell Haku is the only character without additional features. Koun for example is a beautiful young dark-haired woman but has a tail and cat-like ears. Some of the other tribes or countries differ in their own unique way.
The landscape and city design is ancient Japan. The architecture is embellished and sometimes almost magical or supernatural. You will also see some interesting inhabitants such as Gigiri; giant killer bugs. Also blob like creatures called Curse which seem to have something interesting going on.
The actual gameplay is a tactical role-playing style along a similar vein to Fire Emblem. It’s a board like area that you need to move your characters around in. It’s a shame that it isn’t utilized much through the game. I thought the battle sequences and mechanics were really well designed.
It also made the story more fun and picked up the pacing a bit. It’s hard to really critique it since it’s not utilized all that much. I thought it was really good. If there are future titles I hope Aquaplus make sure it’s more prominent.
Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception is a fairly unique experience in the world of gaming. It’s certainly not for everyone. Fans of the series and genre will get a lot out of it. For anyone else, if you’re in to a really great story then it’s worth a look. Provided you either understand Japanese or don’t mind a lot of reading.
But be warned it’s heavy on the reading and could be too much to digest. The auto play function helps on both accounts. The price point could be considered a bit high considering it’s basically a graphic novel. That being said it is heavy with content and story. I have to admit I was disappointed at first and then found myself absolutely loving it. I’m now even watching the anime and looking at getting the manga.
Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception was reviewed on PS4 using a digital download code provided to PowerUp! by Atlus.
Game Title: Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception