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Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth
Score: 91%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Aquaplus
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
Previously, I treated you all to a review of Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, which is a good game with a great story, if a little light on the fighting. It is quite a long game to get through, so you have hours of entertainment available. This time, Iím back to report upon the sequel, Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth.

Mask of Truth looks exactly like the previous game, which is what you would expect with them being released so close together. The characters are beautifully done. Theyíre bright and colorful with exquisitely detailed clothing and features. You can vaguely tell what creatures they evolved from based on their tails and ears. As you might have seen in the previous game, the world has a huge variety in features from region to region. Itís all graphically amazing.

Mask of Truth is done entirely in Japanese with English subtitles. Since it feels mostly like youíre watching an anime, this fits the story rather well. As far as I can tell, all the voicework is done by the same people as the last game, so you wonít have any feelings of disconnect from an actor that was replaced between games. The background music is as it was before, but it feels like they made some of the scores stronger, more fitting to the war that has now befallen all the lands.


Gameplay:
If you have not played Mask of Deception, there will be a lot of spoilers at the beginning of Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth (and in this review). You will get a lot of flashbacks from Mask of Deception at the beginning of Mask of Truth, but itís not the same as playing the game. You donít get a feel for the characters and their personalities without playing the first game. You wonít be totally lost because of the flashbacks, but you just wonít have the full truth. As a quick recap, this world is actually Earth, in a far distant future. Oshtor died, but Haku lived. Oshtor convinces Haku to take his mask and live as him, so that he can still protect Princess Anju and the kingdom of Yamato. After the recap, Kuon is the one awakening at the beginning. Fumirul has been taking care of Kuon, who canít remember anything recent. She knows who she is and that sheís at home, but the recent past is gone and sheís been asleep for 10 days. Kuon is not happy because her father wants to invade the Yamato, the land that she spent so much time in and where she had so many friends, including Princess Anju. After some discussions, she realizes that the only way to save her friends and Yamato is to take it over, and she must be the one to do it, in her own way.

Haku is now Oshtor; hence Haku is dead to everyone. Nekone is the only one who knows he is not the real Oshtor, but she wants to follow her brotherís deathbed request as well. The twins, Uruuru and Saraana, can also tell because of his aura but they wonít say anything to anyone. Oshtor and Nekone have escaped the capital to stay in Ennakamuy, Kiwruís family estate, thanks to the generosity of Kiwruís father, Irawaji. Princess Anju is with them, the real Princess Anju. Back in the capital, the pillar generals have decided that putting a fake princess on the throne will keep the people happier and will be easier to control. This makes Princess Anjuís task to take her throne back even more difficult, but with Oshtorís help, maybe it will happen.

In a shocking twist, Entua has saved Vurai and looked after him while he recovers, much to her own surprise and dismay, so be expecting to see Vurai come back. Youíll also see a lot of familiar faces from the beginning. I was please to see that you will have a lot more characters to battle with, available almost from the beginning of the game. I love Jachdwalt and his daughter Shinonon in the story, but Atuy has to be my favorite character overall. Sheís hilarious with her bloodlust in the story and quite powerful in battle.


Difficulty:
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth lets you choose to play on Normal or Hard. Honestly, I donít see that much difference between them. However, you can transfer items from Mask of Deception, so the further you are in that game, the better items you will start out with in Mask of Truth. I started Mask of Truth with some pretty decent equipment. You can change the difficulty level, so donít feel like youíre stuck with your choice.

Free Battle will be unlocked after the first few battles, as will equipment and BP allocation. These are great for going back and testing a different difficulty level. You will also have a training ground before long. Here, you can fight against your own people and these are great for experience and gaining items. I find them to be a lot more difficult than normal enemy battles. Unfortunately, you canít choose the teams; they are automatically determined for you. I would have liked to make my own.

As before, using your action chains properly can make your life a lot easier. Now, I find that activating defensive skills with the correct timing can really be helpful. If you time it right, youíll manage to dodge or even heal when the enemy attacks you, rather than taking damage. Iíd say proper timing on defense is even more beneficial than on actions.


Game Mechanics:
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth has a turn-based battle system. The unitís turns are set by their speed. You will be able to move and attack (if you are in range) during your turn. Be aware that the different characters have very different attacks, which means they have different attack ranges. You will need to be prepared to have them in position to reach the enemy to attack. Also be aware that some attacks can hit more than one square at a time. You can really do some damage with these attacks hitting multiple units if you are positioned correctly. If you have trouble seeing where the units are, you can use the (RS) to turn the screen around. Outside of battle, all you have to do is press (X) to advance the story. You can hit the (Options) button to bring up the in-game Menu that will take you to Free Battle, Training, Tutorial, and more. Unlike the previous game, Mask of Truth does tell you how to do some of the battle during the game. You can go to the Tutorial for more details.

While I still have not finished Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth, I cannot wait to do so to find out how this saga ends. At this point, I really want to know what happens with these characters. I want to know who lives and who dies (I expect someone will) and if this world survives the struggle for power. If youíre looking for a game with a really good story and interesting characters, check out Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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