It’s been two years since I finished Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen, the remake of the first Utawarerumono game.
Now I’ve moved on and played the second game, Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception.
(I played it on the Vita, but digital copies were delisted and good luck finding physical copies.)
Utawarerumono is often considered a trilogy, but it might be more accurate to describe it as a game with a sequel duology. The original Utawarerumono came out in 2002, only in Japan, and tells a complete story. It was followed by Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Of course, the original was then remade as Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen, which makes it much easier to approach the three games as a trilogy.
Like the first game, Mask of Deception is a visual novel strategy RPG, and I’d say the focus on the visual novel side is even stronger this time. You can spend hours of reading without encountering a battle. When combat does happen, it’s fun enough, but certainly not the game’s big draw.
I got off to a bad start with the game when I couldn’t save in the middle of a scene but had to restart the scene when I loaded my save, but it turns out that’s only an issue for scenes that use the 3D character models. Regular visual novel scenes can be saved and loaded just fine.
You play as Haku, a man with amnesia, and while that sounds similar to the premise of its predecessor, it goes in a different direction. After a woman named Kuon saves Haku from monsters (and gives him the name “Haku” since he can’t remember his own), the two decide to travel together and eventually end up at the capital, with a variety of eccentric characters joining their little group along the way.
It has several connections to the first game, but this entry feels accessible even without that knowledge. However, I’ve gotten the impression that the third game in the series will expect you to have played both previous ones.
The majority of Mask of Deception is fairly lighthearted in tone, with a lot of humor and silly situations. Some of the gags get a little repetitive, but every now and then it would surprise me with a very funny scene. It’s a slow burn that introduces you to its characters and sets the foundations for its world. But when it gets serious, it doesn’t hold anything back. The ending felt like a punch in the stomach coupled with a demand that I play the sequel.
And that’s why I began by discussing the structure of this trilogy. While Mask of Deception does eventually introduce and resolve a major conflict, it feels less like a sequel to Prelude to the Fallen and more like the first half of a sequel. It’s like the Great Ace Attorney situation, where the first game sets up the story to be resolved in the second. Here’s hoping Mask of Truth does as good a job.
In short, I enjoyed Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, and now that the stakes have really been built up, I’m looking forward to starting Mask of Truth to see what happens next.---
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