So this is going to be an interesting one. Not only is this my first embargo but this is also the very first JRPG I’ve ever played, make that the first game I’ve played that’s come straight out of Japan. So apart from the obvious clichés of big boobs and females sounding like they were having sex, this is what I came across. I also apologize to anyone who feels offended by my review and how little I know about this genre of games. This is going to be fun…
Let’s start with the name, Utawarerumono, as a westerner who’s never come across a Japanese game before I had no idea how to pronounce the name. After a quick google, I discover that’s its pronounced Ooh-tah-wah-ray-roo-mo-no. The game is the sequel to Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception. Having not played the previous game, I was a little confused about what was being talked about during the intro sequence but thanks to a recap at the end of the intro I had a good idea about what happened (which I will try not to spoil too much).
The game was developed by Aquaplus and distributed by Atlus in North America and Europe. The game is released tomorrow on the 5th of September 2017 on both the PS4 and the PSVita. I would probably best describe the game as a Tactical SRPG game, where the game follows a very heavy story line. From what I’ve experienced of the game so far is that that there is as much story time as there is gameplay. For those people who are interested, the game has its original Japanese voicing with English text to accompany.
One of the first things that I noticed was how good the sound track was. I’m serious, it feels like reading a manga that has a backing track that changes with the mood of the characters at the same time. It’s prominent through every scene that I’ve played through and I feel that is going to be my overall favorite thing about the game as a whole.
The second thing I noticed was that the intro convocation took a very long time to get through. I know that there was a lot of subject matter for the characters to get through but this doesn’t stop someone who is new to this style of game from feeling a little bored. There were still some funny moments where a group of girls that were talking about the problems of having big breasts and how annoying they can be but I digress.
So some back story for the game (Spoilers for Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception) you play as Haku. On his journey, he becomes friends with Kuon and other warriors and become ambassadors for Oshutoru. The Mikado, a god like person, is at war with other regions trying to oppress the land. During this time the Mikado dies. After, a power struggle begins. During one of the final battles Oshutoru dies, his final request to Haku is to keep the princess safe. Haku fakes his death and takes Oshutoru’s place, lying to all his friends about who he really is.
The majority of gameplay comes from fight scenes that can only be described as being very similar to XCOM. The characters are on a grid map and move in a turn based format. You take first move by having the choice to move into range of an enemy, if you are already in range you have the chance to attack first and move second. When you attack a circle is closed and when it reaches the center, a button press finishes the attack, the closer to the center you are the more damage is done and if timed right a critical attack will be awarded. Over time you will build up Zeal. This is a meter that awards the character an extra go before their turn ends, giving the chance to score extra damage on an enemy and then move out of range of their next attack.
These moments of gameplay are seriously tactical, if you don’t think ahead to where you want to be and where your enemy will be, you will struggle to make much headway through the battles. I don’t know if this is true on the hard difficulty (I played on normal because I’m a noob), but it is possible to rewind through moves so that any mistakes you made can be rectified. I just feel that this could be exploited by some people though so that they repeat the turn they were on so that they could make sure that every hit they make is a critical hit. While some people may play this way it’s far more satisfying to play without going back every time you miss a crit.
So to top this off, as my first introduction into the Japanese game market, it’s been a fun experience. While the first experience was to wade through a back story that I had no previous commitment to, I eventually found that I couldn’t help but to get into the story, it has been really well thought out and is very well written and translated (no funny Engrish I’m afraid, sorry Joe). I’ve also seen some things that you would find weird over here unless it was in a game of the likes of Saints Row, like a child princess riding a giant pigeon into battle that’s called Cocopo. I also saw the very classic cliché of Japanese Games, Big, Well animated, Boobs. Nuf said.
This has been a very enjoyable game to play and strongly recommend a play. Even if you’ve never played a JRPG before like me. My rating? 9/10.