Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception Review

Utawarerumono is one of those series that became a huge hit in Japan but never graced us with its presence in the west. For most, their exposure was through a fan translation of the visual novel or from checking out the anime adaptations. It’s a series I hold in high regard having played the original, appreciating how could blend different gameplay elements but never feeling like a mess.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth released in Japan a year apart from each other, acting as sequels to the original visual novel released back in 2002. I was excited when I heard Atlus announced they were localizing both entries for western audiences, marking the first time the series has ever been seen over here. I had heard great things about these games from those I knew who imported them, so I was more than ready to get my hands on it. Continue reading

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Toukiden 2 Review

To me, Toukiden 1 was a brilliant but flawed game. Here was something I really wanted from the genre: a story-driven experience utilizing the Monster Hunter formula. On the other hand, it fell too deep into the hole of repetition and didn’t go far enough to differentiate itself.

The enhanced re-release Toukiden Kiwami rapidly expanded on the formula and provided a far greater amount of everything – storytelling, Oni, Mitama, equipment, and more. I had a better time with it due to the way it tried to fill in all the empty spaces that left the previous version a fairly hollow adventure. Continue reading

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization Review

Let me say upfront that I am a big fan of Sword Art Online. While others may enjoy trashing the series for the directions it goes at times, I fell in love with the high stakes drama it presented for viewers. While .hack had some characters falling into comas if they encountered a certain person, Sword Art Online had thousands of people locked into an MMORPG, fighting for their very existence.

.hack//Sign came close with a main character who is unable to log off, but when people in SAO died in the game, they died in real life. To me, this is an amazing concept that had me hooked from the beginning. My love may have tapered off a little with Sword Art Online II, but I am always eager for something to renew my enjoyment.

But even though Sword Art Online takes place inside an MMORPG, this experience hasn’t transitioned well to video games. Hollow Fragment had a huge translation problem, while Lost Song fell into a hole of mediocrity. Does Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization have what it takes to set it apart from its disappointing brethren? Yes and no. Continue reading