Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception Game Review
- Developer:Aqua plus
- Publisher:Aqua plus
- Genre: Visual Novel
- Release Date: 23/5/17
- Platforms: Playstation 4/PS3/PS Vita
- Game Supplied by: SONY
Utawarerumono, utterwarwoomoono, ooohwaawoowaamooomo. Yep let’s face it, having a game name you can’t even pronounce to your friends ( or editor ) doesn’t help this game from the get go. From here on out let’s just call it “Mask of Deception” instead then.
Although I’ve listed Mask of Deception as a visual novel, that’s not technically correct. It does actually have a turn based battle system in here, ( deep deep in here somewhere honest ) but with only 12 battles ( including the tutorial ) amongst a 40 hour visual novel game, it’s hard to think of this as anything more than a visual novel with a touch of spice for battle scenes. I mean you wouldn’t put a Call of Duty game into the genre of an FPS/visual novel game because it has 12 cinematics with subtitles along with all its combat would you? So calling Mask of Deception anything more than a visual novel game is incorrect. ( hey, maybe that’s what the “mask of deception” part is all about ? ) So as a 95% visual novel game, what do you get?
You start the game as a character with amnesia, chased by monsters through a forest, and just in the nick of time, is rescued by a woman called Kuon. I say woman but she has fluffy ears like a dog/cat. From the get go, the artwork is superb. I personally adore the art style of this game, as it’s almost Vanillaware gorgeous. There aren’t many scenes per conversation and, no animations at all, the game is simply just gorgeous artwork and text to read.
The artwork for the back drops are again superb, but also superb is the mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful audio, especially the soundtrack. Yes reading text is and can be dull, but with gorgeous artwork to look at and lovely music to read it with, it’s hard not to be impressed for the first hour or so.
However, for a visual novel game to excel, and in my eyes get top marks, it has to have a superb story, maybe even branching storylines, fantastic narrative, interesting characters, and outstanding voice acting. ( See the game Steins Gate for how visual novels 40 hours long should be done. ) Sadly Mask of Deception doesn’t have all of these qualities.
The voice acting is actually one of the best parts of the game, and even more so when you consider the utterly boring narrative the actors had to work with. For example, after you’ve been rescued, there then ensues a 20 minute dialogue of how to get dressed. I kid you not, the narrative seems to have a view of, why use 100 words when 10,000 will do. Despite this the actors managed to put a lot of life and humour into their performances and were superb.
You can understand why having long dialogue is needed though if it builds the character profiles for you to then be interested in them emotionally, but in most cases here it just doesn’t, and therefore most of the time it felt like nothing more than boring, lets pad the game out with drivel.
Because the narrative is for the most part, boring drivel, it’s hard to then want to invest time into the game. The story may well end up a great one, but will you be able to stomach the boring 10 to 15 hours just to get it going ? Maybe this is actually the “ Mask of Deception “ aspect of the game ?!?!
Couple all this with the £40 price tag, for what is, to be honest, nothing more than a glorified book, and you will then start to wonder why you got it in the first place.
Visual novels are as visual novels do. You either get them or you don’t and you either love the story or you won’t. I could go on for hours about how I rate the visual novel game “Steins Gate”, but I can’t do anything similar like that here with mask of deception.
The narrative is just too dull, the battles too infrequent, and the, well……..fun, just not there for hours upon hours of the game. If you can grind through the first 10 hours of the game, a gem may well appear for you, but I fear most, will just get bored and do something else instead with their time.