Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception_20161222125159

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception Review

Developed by Aquaplus
Published by Atlus USA
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (Also available on Vita)


Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception is the latest entry in the visual novel/ tactical strategy RPG duo-genre. A title set sometime after the 2002 PC release, you wake up as an amnesiac no clue about your surroundings. You’re provided care by a mysterious, but kind, animal-girl named Kuon as you work your way through the nuance of politics and battlefields in this world.  You’ll eventually get a solid grip on what value you can contribute in the progressively more complex world.

Your adventures take place in the land of Yamato, a rustic feudal-era land with blatant analogies to Japan. The towns, cities, and land in between are vibrant in both their colorful foliage and the characters that stand in the forefront. Scenarios with characters range from lavishing in a hot indoor bath to battling to the death with menacing monsters; everywhere in between and every scene and still are emotive and lively.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception is a fully voice acted adventure in its native Japanese, lending weight to the dialogue that helps paint the world. Inside and outside of combat, the sound of weapons clashing, fires exploding, or meters filling up all feel very well tuned. This is good because you will hear the sound of weapons and meters for many hours of gameplay.

Outside of the visual novel bits, gameplay is anchored in a tile-based tactical RPG. Gameplay uses a mix of rock-paper-scissors elemental weaknesses, weather, and equipped scrolls to manipulate your unit’s specific traits that include counter attacks, defense against elements, etc. A nice change up from the usual strategy elements is a type of active participation like charging a circular meter as the character attacks or timing a button press as your weapon strikes. These add special effects to your attacks like poison or a critical damage multiplier, which becomes nearly essential as you progress.

A typical turn breakdown screen. A more exhaustive breakdown is available by pressing [■]
Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception‘s overall presentation is a great example of what polish can do for a fifteen year old series. It really does what it can to bring you into its world. From an easily accessed Glossary of terms that updates as you play, to an engaging take on the TRPG genre, Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception hits the mark.