Just a few months after Mask of Deception debuted; we finally get to play the sequel. Although Mask of Truth is a step up from its predecessor, is it enough of one to persuade gamers to continue the journey?
For the unfamiliar, Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception was an interesting blend of visual novel and strategy RPG. However, the fact that it was about 90% story sequences made it a very niche game that not every fan of SRPGs would be able to stomach. Thankfully, even though this sequel is very plot-heavy, it's far more engaging both in its story and gameplay.
I'll begin by discussing the battles. Whereas Mask of Deception's stages were mostly uninspired and simplistic, I'm happy to say that the battles featured in Mask of Truth are far more satisfying and challenging. This is partly due to the fact that you can carry over many aspects from your Mask of Deception save file so your party is more competent right off the bat. The scenarios themselves are more interesting here, too, with enemies that spawn other foes, maps that are tricky to traverse, and hulking enemy and ally units that are fun to watch chip away at each other's health meters. The only downside is that some battles can go on for far too long and end up feeling tedious as a result.
It'll be difficult to discuss the plot without spoiling anything but I'll just say that while Mask of Deception acts as a decent introduction to the characters and world, Mask of Truth is a lot more engaging due to its portrayal of war. On top of this, the large cast of both familiar and newly introduced characters that you meet along the way provide a multifaceted approach to storytelling that'll keep you wondering what will unfold next. On the other hand, there are still moments when not much happens and all you do is watch and read about trivial events. Plus, there are plenty of suggestive scenes that feel out of place to the point that they take away from the story.
On the plus side, the gorgeous artwork of Mask of Deception is present here as well along with the same talented voice cast and delightful soundtrack. Honestly, if the Utawarerumono games didn't look and sound as good as they do then they would be far less enjoyable. One issue that annoys me slightly is that when characters say things mid-battle, it isn't always captioned which makes me wonder what the heck they just said considering there is no English voice option. That small issue aside, experiencing the sights and sounds of Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth is a treat that fans of Japanese games will relish.
One aspect that I wished they improved in Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth is the party setup dynamic. All you did in Mask of Deception was spend points to upgrade base stats and equip certain passive skills to provide boosts. Unfortunately, this basic and uninvolving system is back with no substantial added complexities that would have made for a more rewarding character progression component.
Although Mask of Truth is certainly a better game than Mask of Deception, it unfortunately retains many of its flaws. That being said, fans of the previous game will have a wonderful time finally seeing the conclusion to this two-part adventure.
- + Battles are more rewarding than the ones featured in Mask of Deception
- + Plot is much more engaging
- + Same gorgeous art and audio
- - Some battles go on for far too long and start becoming very tedious
- - Story still has many boring parts
- - Character growth is as unsatisfying as ever