Developed by Aquaplus Published by Atlus Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (Also available on Vita)
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth is the latest entry in the Utawarerumono series of titles, a tactical strategy RPG with flavors of visual novel in between. Taking place directly after Mask of Deception, Mask of Truth is definitely going to spoil any story content from the prior game.
Story segments flip between Kuon and Haku, the primary protagonists from the previous game, now finding themselves embroiled in a full-scale war between countries. Each are neck deep in strategy and battle plans that risk not singular warriors, but entire swaths of land. As the player progresses through the story, many accessory characters fill the ranks of your parties, lending tactical advantage and new personalities to the times between battles. Voice acting (all in Japanese) helps flesh out the various portraits and personalities, from dainty waifs to gruff beefcakes and everything in-between.
Outside of the visual novel bits, gameplay is anchored in a tile-based tactical RPG system. Gameplay uses a mix of Rock-Paper-Scissors-esque elemental weaknesses, weather, and equipped scrolls to manipulate your unit’s specific traits such as counter attacks, defense against elements, etc. A nice change up from the usual strategy elements is a type of active participation meter like charging a circular meter as the character attacks, or timing a button press as your weapon strikes, which adds special effects to your attacks like poison or critical damage multiplier. This becomes nearly essential as you progress. Improvements to the battle system like team-up attacks and a raised level cap also help differentiate this title from its previous installment.