Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception Review
Have you ever played a game that compelled you to put down the controller? Ya know? The type that makes you want to do the complete opposite of its intended purpose? Well, folks “Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception” is that game. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Utawarerumono is an Adult Light Novel in Japan. When Light Novels get a video game adaption, despite their popularity in Japan, they tend to get a bad rap here in the US. And let me tell you Mask or Deception does nothing to change this stigma. Up until this point in my Kzoku experience, I have been blessed by the gaming Gods with the task of reviewing 3s and above outta 5s. But that all changes today. It ain’t easy out here in the review game.
The game kicks off on a pretty basic note. After a series of unexplained flashback events, here you are, the main character alone, scared, and confused with no recollection of his memory. Complete Memory loss. Except for your name of course! You “play” as Haku, the ever so clumsy always finding his way into misfortune protagonist. As with most LN protags, memory loss is nothing for this guys. So into the woods, he goes in nothing but a hospital gown and his name. And of course exploring unknown territory comes with unknown dangers. Haku encounters a beast that’s ready to end his life. Right before true deathblow, in comes the courageous, clever, and ever so kawaii Kuon (or in the LN world, Waifu Extraordinaire Kuon). After Haku’s near death experience he shows his generosity to Kuon by agreeing to accompany her on whatever it is she wants to do. And thus begins your accent into your Light Novel experience.
Folks this is your typical, run of the mill, basic strategy game combat. You have a map, your team vs the foes. You acquire different characters along the way. Each in a specific class that has advantages and disadvantages. Move your character within range of a foe and give em the beatdown. Now instead of a weapon or unit advantage system, Mask of Deception uses an elemental system. Ya know, water beats fire kind of deal. Pay attention to these because being at a disadvantage could be your defeat. Level up by beating up foes. To get more powerful and critical hits, each class has a different command to execute. The more successful commands lead to more experience points which will unlock new moves. If you mess up well fear not because for everyone’s inner scrub, there’s a nifty little rewind feature.
Okay as far as art goes, the style is good. It has a cutesy yet mature fusion to it. The character designs are interesting. However, visuals can only take a game so far.
Like I said, this game is based off a Light Novel. And boy do they own it here. If you think you’re getting an adaptation of a Light Novel into a game, well just erase that thought from your hyper-stimulated overactive gamer imagination! Cutscenes? Nope. Ability to make choice in conversations? Nope. Ability to freely explore the world and get in-depth the world? You guessed it! Nope. That thing that I said about Light Novel game adaptations getting a bad rap? Well, that’s because they mainly consist of still images, the same recycled songs playing over and over, and undubbed conversations that are longer than I95. And Mask of Deception hits the mark with all of that. Folks this game is 90% talking. 日本語を分かれますか？If you either A. Didn’t understand what I asked, or B. Answered no then I have some bad news for you. Nothing wrong with Undubbed games. Except when there is this much reading required. You will have to read while everything is spoken in Japanese. In the event, you’re ready to put down your controller and ragequit due to boredom you can skip scenes and save the game at any time. If you want a game full of still images but with interactions and not having to read the whole thing, honestly you are better off playing Fairy Fencer or any other Compile Hearts titles over Mask of Deception.
Honestly, folks, I have never been so compelled to put my controller down. Normally bad games double as a barrel of laughs. But when they are boring and bad at the same time what is one to do? The combat is so bland, with games like Fire Emblem and Disgaea on the market, Mask of Deception falls short on key combat elements that could have set it apart and made unique. On top of this, the game is one giant audio book. You are better off finding a translated version of the Light Novel and reading it. My main point here is the game adaption should have more interactions for players. Video games and books are two totally different things, and for that Utawararerumono walks away with a 2/5. In the even you like reading with minimal gameplay, pick this one up but only on a PSN flash sale.