We've seen 2 Utawarerumono games in recent years and a cool spin-off so here's the long-awaited original SRPG / visual novel.
Back in 2017, I reviewed both Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth and although I enjoyed parts of them, they didn't quite live up to my expectations. Meanwhile, I wondered what happened to the original game in the Utawarerumono franchise. Why did they release 2 sequels before the original? Well, now we have a remake of the first game with Prelude to the Fallen so essentially, every game in the Utawarerumono series is now available in the west in some form or another. Of course, most of the naughty content has been removed since the original was an adults-only kind of experience but that's a discussion for another day. For now, I'm happy that we get to enjoy the first game in the franchise and let me just say right off the bat, it's my favourite game in the entire SRPG / visual novel trilogy.
Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen tells the story of Hakuowlo (or Hakuoro if you're more familiar with that name) who is taken care of by a girl named Eruruu and her family after he was gravely injured. Of course, he has lost all of his memories because this is a Japanese RPG, after all. Anyway, he helps her village prosper which gets the attention of a nefarious noble who tries to claim their resources for himself. Obviously, Hakuowlo won't have any of that nonsense so a conflict unfolds and the story goes from there.
Although it's an interesting premise and there are plenty of dramatic scenes throughout that'll keep you wondering what will happen next, there are a lot of more monotonous moments in the storytelling that'll likely make you feel sleepy if you're not entirely immersed in Utawarerumono's world and all of its minutiae. Needless to say, if you are then you'll have a great time reading all of the dialogue. Thankfully, the character art is wonderful and the orchestral soundtrack is spot-on for whatever situation you find yourself in.
When it comes to actual gameplay, Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen features a rather simple SRPG setup where you command an army of characters. Upon attacking an enemy, you can time a button press to earn extra Zeal points as well as potentially extend your combo which is a cool feature. Zeal points are used for additional combo hits and are also incorporated in the Co-op Chain and Final Strike attacks. The former has 1 character initiate an attack while 1 or more characters join them which results in a devastating blow to an area of enemies while the latter is a more focused attack that will likely kill an opponent in 1 hit. It takes a long time to fill a character's Zeal gauge so using these moves feels awesome yet at the same time; combat is quite basic which may disappoint genre veterans.
Character growth in Prelude to the Fallen is also rather simplistic as all you do is assign points to 3 base stats via BP Allocation and use the Equip option to deck characters out with 1 piece of equipment and 2 items each. One thing I did in my playthrough was only assign BP to my characters' attack attribute which made each party member super-powerful. Although they lacked defense, they could cut through enemies like a hot knife through butter. Anyway, the actual battles range from typical scenarios to more clever ones where you'll have to fend off enemies for a certain amount of turns or lure a monster to a specific location. This variety makes the battles much more fulfilling as you never know what you'll face next and it's even hard to tell when a battle is truly over as new foes may emerge.
Prelude to the Fallen is a solid introduction to the Utawarerumono universe so if simple SRPG battles and visual novels appeal to you then this is one game that you'll definitely want to play.
- + Fantastic art and orchestral music
- + Co-op Chain and Final Strike add a lot of fun to the SRPG combat
- + Variety of enjoyable battles
- - Story is a bit tedious at times
- - Character progression could use more facets
- - Core combat can be rather basic