Finally, the trilogy comes together
Not counting Utawarerumono Zan the spin-off hack and slash game. Utawarerumono has seen three other releases on PlayStation 4 including Prelude to the Fallen and if you are like me and was confused playing Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth and Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception you most likely wasn’t the first. Prelude to the Fallen is the first in the series which tells the story of Hakuoro, a man injured in a forest and is found by a family of two feline cat girls and their grandmother. Eruruu and Aruruu are both tending to his wounds and are curious as to why he wears an irremovable mask. Hakuoro is as confused by this as well as to why the girls attending to his wounds have cat ears and tails.
As this is the first in the series, but the last one to be released it makes the later titles confusing if like me you played them first, unless you were to shift through the series of anime adaptations or play the games which were released in Japan. Being an HD Remake of the original this most up to date version of Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen finally puts the confusing plot to bed for western audiences. It is also the perfect starting point to newcomers although outside of Japan these types of Japanese visual novels are hard to recommend. I will say that Utawarerumono is one of the better visual novel games for those that enjoy them. While they contain a story which is both mysterious and intriguing they also contain tactical style battles which add substance to an otherwise lengthy game. if like me you need something to take away from reading then it is a welcome break to allow for a deeper immersion into the World. Infrequent as these are they require tactical planning if you are to emerge victoriously.
The battles are a clear enhancement to the original game showing detailed 3D models with engaging gameplay. As battles are fewer they really feel more tactical and fun as opposed to other tactical JRPG’s such as Disgaea where it’s possible to break the game and it is welcomed and sliding through most battles in minutes is possible. If you, however, are looking for a deeper experience to tactical JRPG’s there isn’t much of that here sadly. The simple combat consists of taking turns to attack enemies on a grid-style playing field. When attacking enemies you can earn Zeal points by a timed button press which can also extend your characters combo. The Zeal does take some time to fill but when it does it can devastate your opponents making it a great feature to take advantage of. Character building is also as simple as the rest of the game requiring point allocation to your characters which while simple it does make a world of difference when it comes to battles. Aside from the battles the game has welcome pauses where you can change rooms to change the pacing of what is going on much like the other games in the series.
Further in the game is the option to replay the story battles you have completed while there is a training mode allowing you to take on missions. Every item you acquire in Utawarerumono is done so through battles and there is no form of currency here to purchase items.
The graphical enhancements since the original game was released make it a pleasure to look at keeping in line with the other Utawarumono games. The Unique and gorgeous world it takes place in makes it a nice visual experience from start to finish, the music and atmosphere all create the experience, there is no English voice acting here but with the translation almost flawless it isn’t even almost worth noticing.
A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by NIS America