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

Criminal Girls: Invite Only Review

Criminal Girls: Invite Only takes place in the wonderful land of Hell. You, the voiceless protagonist, have been hired on as Warden of a group of girls who, for one reason or another, find themselves imprisoned in the afterlife.

As a result, they each must go through a “Redemption Program” to learn the error of their ways, escape eternal damnation, and earn their way towards rejoining the land of the living. As you might expect, the journey won’t be an easy one. Continue reading

I Am Setsuna Review

The main story opens with a lone mercenary traveling through the snowy banks of a desolate land, his legs carving a path through the mounds of soft powder. The masked man takes on different tasks in order to survive this harsh arctic environment, seeing them through to completion no matter how arduous they may be.

Approached by an unknown figure after completing a job, he is told to visit a small village on a tiny isle off the coast of the mainland. In that village, once every ten years, a ceremony is held where a sacrifice is chosen. That person must set out on a journey to the Last Lands to fulfill their prophecy. There resides a young girl there who is about to reach the target age, and he is ordered to eliminate her. Continue reading

Hyperdevotion Noire PC Review

Late last year, Idea Factory International announced during their annual press event in San Francisco that they would be releasing Hyperdevotion Noire, their tactical RPG spin-off to the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, for PC in a move that falls in line with their recent attempts at basically putting their entire catalog on to the platform as a new means of revenue. So far, so good, as they have seen a lot of success on that front as they indicated in the interview I had with them in December.

Fast forward four months and here we are with another PC port for the series. Since I already covered the original PlayStation Vita version of the game for the site in the past (which I highly recommend reading), I will be focusing on the particular benefits that higher grade hardware has produced for the title. I was already a big fan of the original release, speaking as someone who holds a lot of appreciation for the tactical RPG genre, and the player experience has mostly been improved upon here. Continue reading

Stories: The Path of Destinies Review

The storybook tale of Stories: The Path of Destinies tells the story of Reynardo, a rogue fox who is leading a rebellion to fight against an evil empire that is about to crush the freedom the world once had. To help him on his journey, he comes into possession of a magical book that allows him to go back in time to trial and error his way through the adventure.

The role of choice plays a very important role in Stories. At the end of each level, the player will have to make some tough decisions. The choices the player makes causes the story to branch out, and those branching storylines continue to branch over and over until you reach one of many endings. The consequences of your actions feel far more tangible than they normally do in other games. Continue reading

Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru Review

Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru serves as a spin-off to the Grisaia series, which are arguably among some of the best modern visual novels around. Taking a hard left turn from the school life that perpetuated in those games, here we find one of the main protagonists in a standalone experience.

While many of the important characters from Grisaia make an appearance, you won’t need to have played any of those titles to enjoy your time here. They take on completely different roles during the story (other than Sachi, who still acts as a maid to Michiru and is still a consistent source of silly one-liners). Continue reading