September 5, 2017
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth is the sequel to Utawaretumono: Mask of Deception, which I reviewed back in May of this year. The successor to what was a very mixed experience (you can read all the details here) I’m glad to say that this time around my expectations were met and, in a lot of ways, exceeded.
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth is set directly after the events of the first game, and there are some pretty hefty spoilers involved in recapping those, so I’ll try and avoid that as best as possible. Taking after Haku, Kuon awakens with amnesia, but her memories return quickly, and her course of action during the game is shortly established after that. Oshtor sets about fortifying his homeland, Ennakamuy after the deterioration of events in Yamato. A lot could be said about reversing the name of these two games given the themes they actually represent.
Part of what made this game feel a lot more wholesome was having a fully-fledged cast of characters from the very beginning, rather than the addition of new characters being subjected primarily to the storyline. Familiar faces join you once again as you set out to right wrongs and smash some skulls in the process (I think Atuy is probably my kindred spirit in these titles). The glossary makes a return in this title also, complete with descriptions of terms and titles that are very niche to manga/ anime fandoms.
The feels come hard and fast as soon as the opening trailer begins, and this game immediately captured my emotional attention. After the first couple of hours of gameplay, this only deepened. I can confidently say that this game succeeded where the first did not in presenting a story that showed strength, vulnerability and courage in the face of terrible odds. The sci-fi esque origins of the story come through a lot stronger.
This game also presented a great summary of the events of the first game nice and early in such a way that they didn’t need to be referred to again. In this sense Mask of Truth felt independent of Mask of Deception in terms of identity, and maintained this separation throughout.
The turn based combat of the game hasn’t changed compared to the original. Elemental strengths and weaknesses still form the backbone of the turn based combat and the final strikes of your party members are still beautifully animated and lethal. The combination attacks you can perform are the only new feature introduced. The only thing I will say is that, especially towards the end of the game, the combat feels drawn out and risks boring the player. The importance of having the combat balance the heavier story elements risks getting lost at these later stages, however I feel like this game manages to get you invested enough to work through it.
- Compelling story
- Magnificent art style
- Able to stand alone
- Huge time investment required
- Balance still not quite right
In summary, I can only really present you with two options. If you would like to get a sense of where the balance between graphic novel and turn based combat should be, sink your teeth into Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth. If you would like to indulge in the full depth of storyline content you will need to go back and play Mask of Deception. Where the sequel still falls short is the amount of time it takes to get to the climax of events so be prepared to exercise some real patience with this one, especially if you are unfamiliar with graphic novels.