Mask of Truth (Review)
The narrative that stretches over the course of Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth is convoluted and, quite frankly, a bit absurd. But this isn’t a series that is aiming for realism or believability. This is a story far more concerned with plot twists, epic battles, exploring character relationships and underscoring the overall grandeur of a conflict that involves so many massive personalities with exceptional power (whether that power be physical, intellectual or political). Finding a way to explore character relationships and showcase different personalities without an ever-present source of conflict proved to be too tall of an order for Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception. Mask of Truth, however, has plenty of feuds and secrets to drive the narrative forward in a way that feels far more meaningful than what we saw in the past. This is particularly obvious when it comes to the way certain characters are further developed.
Characters like Atuy and Nosuri are given new levels of depth that make these heroines feel a bit less like your usual overused anime tropes and a bit more like well thought out characters struggling to deal with a particularly trying set of circumstances building around them. The bold women who were once little more than “the hopeless romantic that fights for fun” and “the one that likes to drink and gamble” become far more complicated versions of themselves. So many cast members that felt “almost there” in the first game now feel completed, fascinating and relatable. This marks the first of many welcomed surprises that are sprinkled throughout Mask of Truth—in terms of both storytelling and gameplay.
The biggest gameplay change that is almost immediately obvious in Mask of Truth is the simple fact that there’s a lot more of it than there used to be. While the previous game did feature opportunities for free battles there weren’t many chances for players to get their feel of the game’s combat system. While the game is, first and foremost, a visual novel, it still felt like a shame that a combat system this good was being tacked on the backend of the game in a way that made it feel like an afterthought. Mask of Truth corrects that mistake while also making vast improvements on the mechanics themselves. The battle sequences are far more frequent in this game and they are pleasantly more involved. In addition to the usual mechanics of keeping up with elemental advantages and range of different attacks, Mask of Truth requires players to practice perfect timing if they hope to land critical hits while also chaining longer attack strings together.
This addition gives players more control over just how much damage they will be able to deal out to powerful enemies. Your biggest challenge with these timing sequences, however, will be trying to focus on the circle that you’re trying to keep track of. While your priority should be watching a ring shrink in size until it reaches a small dot in the center or watching a larger ring slowly fill up in a clockwise motion as you attempt to hit X just as it reaches the 12 o’clock position, your eyes will often struggle to remain fixed on this. While the combat features some interesting and fun animations, there are a lot of cringeworthy and buggy moments too. Prepare to watch Ougi’s blade float in mid-air whenever he’s battling a shorter character, when the blade is really supposed to be sticking out of his opponent’s body. It all could use some fine-tuning, but still, it’s not enough to ruin the gameplay for you