Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen review for PS4, PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Also on: PS4
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Aquaplus
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

For those keeping track at home, even though Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen is being released more than two and a half years after the other two Utawarerumono games — Mask of Truth and Mask of Deception — it?s actually the first game in the series. In fact, it predates those games by roughly a decade, having first been released in Japan on PC in 2002.

I?ve got to admit: it doesn?t mean all that much to me. Even though I played both of those games (for the record, I liked Mask of Deception, and I wasn?t so fond of Mask of Truth), I barely remember a thing about either of them. Just about the only things I really recall are that they were both incredibly wordy, even by the standards of visual novels, and that they were somewhat unique in the genre because of the fact that they occasionally forayed into turn-based battles.

Both of those things remain true here. The story is pretty generic, as these things go: it?s about an amnesiac, Hakuowlo, who wakes up in the middle of a rural Japanese village where many of the villagers seem to be part-animal, and slowly — and I do mean sloooooowly — falls in love, fights battles, and finds his destiny. Everything may have carried a little more weight if I remembered what happened in the other two games, but as it stands, it just felt like Prelude to the Fallen tended to get bogged down in meandering chapters that never really went anywhere.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the battles broke up the monotony, because they?re very, very few and far between. Hours pass before you get your first action, and even that?s basically just a tutorial which will be familiar if you?ve ever played a strategic RPG that features any turn-based battles. From that point, it?s hours more until the next battle, and somewhere along the way you?ll probably realize that if you?re after action of any kind, this probably isn?t the game for you.

On the action side, I?ll also note Prelude to the Fallen tries to mix things up by including Chain Attacks. While they?re kind of neat, they?re also so few and far between that I can?t say they make a huge difference in the big scheme of things.

Obviously, seeing as this is a visual novel, that?s secondary to whether the story itself is any good. And on that front, Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen really demands that you be invested not just in the 30+ hours of story here, but also the 80+ hours that have come before it (er, after it?) in Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth. That?s a big commitment to make, and I?d be lying if I said I thought the time investment was worth it, but if you?ve come this far with Utawarerumono and need to see it through, Prelude to the Fallen is probably a must-buy.

NIS America provided us with an Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen PS Vita/PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B-