Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Aquaplus
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
Players: 1
Online: No

One of my biggest gaming surprises of 2017 was probably how much I liked Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception. Normally I wouldn’t expect much out of a visual novel with a tiny bit of turn-based combat that originated in Japan’s erotic gaming scene, but I found myself genuinely enjoying it. Like, I even laughed (or, at least, snorted) a few times, which isn’t something I usually do with most games (but especially Japanese games), and the story between the laughs and the combat proved to be surprisingly compelling.

Which means, I guess, that Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth represents one of the biggest gaming letdowns of the year for me, since I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much.

The problem, I think, is that whereas Mask of Deception clocked in at a brisk 25-30 hours, Mask of Truth takes a minimum of 40+ hours. If you’re being charitable, I guess, you could call it “unhurried”, but after sitting through unskippable cutscenes that take 10-15 minutes, and hours that pass by between single battles, I can’t say I’m in the mood to be charitable. The difference between the two games is stark: the first one seemed to understand that it needed to pace itself and give players a rounded experience, whereas this one is just heavy, lengthy exposition followed by more heavy, lengthy exposition, with things like battles or jokes — story elements that could lighten the mood or break up the monotony — few and far between.

Of course, what I found monotonous, others — particularly those who were deeply invested in the first game, and want to see where the story winds up — would probably find riveting. And if that describes you, you’re certainly in luck here. Mask of Truth gives you all the story you could possibly hope for, and then some. There are points where every other scene feels like a flashback, and the game doesn’t hesitate to just drown you in information, so if you were hoping for all kinds of back stories and infodumps, those are here in abundance.

Best of all, it won’t bog you down with a complicated battle system. Mask of Truth’s fights are standard SRPG fare, with grids and turns and, occasionally, teams. You don’t need to worry about learning anything too complex, which in turn leaves you more time to sift through the story.

Conversely, it means that if you don’t find the story compelling, it’s not like there’s some other element here that could win you over. Utawarerumono: Mask of Truthis for diehards only, and everyone else need not apply.

Atlus provided us with a Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: C+