Never has a game felt more niche than this.
It’s unlikely you will have heard of Utawarerumono before this review. The first of this series of games was never made for western audiences. The second, and now the third part have reached us to finally conclude a story we never really got an introduction to but somehow demanded. The game is a strange blend that works entirely dependent on your ability to manage your patience well. The game amalgamates tactical RPG with visual novel and it can be very easy to get bored from all the story you get planted with from the very beginning.
The game follows the story of two characters: Haku, who after the last game is in hiding after faking his death; and Kuon, who finds duties and friends at odds with each other. The two characters gather information in preparation for an upcoming civil war at a relaxed pace. This is mixed with some off-book wondering with characters engaging in conversation to build up more story and develop the characters personalities. There is plenty of story here to eat up, and at points it can seem drawn out without resolving anything. This isn’t helped by the fact that characters repeat statements made a few scenes ago, drawing you out of a story which keeps trying to keep you drawn in.
The opposite of the story is battling, battle are plentiful and follow a typical SRPG style on a grid field. There are extras thrown in for extra interest. Particularly the critical attack system, working like games such as Stick of Truth: hit the button at the right time, with plenty of forgiveness in the press. Magic attacks also require you to hold a button to physically charge the attack. These try to keep you invested in the game, and do a good job of not letting you play passively. Typically, characters improve and gain new skills and abilities which all have been lovingly crafted, mostly due to battling being the only real aspect outside of the story.
The game really does nothing revolutionary. Graphically the game is not much above the PS3, and compared to the well-drawn anime story scenes the characters seems quite boring in comparison. You will be spending plenty of time looking at the story scenes though, and that might be my biggest problem with this game.
When I started up the game I had to sit through a lot of cutscene. A hell of a lot, around half-an hour of reading and instantly I had to take a break and internalise all I had to read. These long detractions make the game a real chore to play. The distinction between visual novel and RPG are stark and long spread. If you don’t like one part of this game you’ll be slogging through it for a long while to get to the parts you do enjoy.
Despite the feel of some extreme padding the RPG element is fulfilling, but your love of this game will be decided on loving both parts. If you aren’t a fan of visual novels or RPG’s then half of this game will be tolerance waiting for fun, which is how no good game should be. This game isn’t for me, but fans of the previous iterations or fans of both genres will find enjoyment on this game. The game earns a 7, it’s a fulfilling adventure if you are both a fan of visual novels and RPGs, a niche set of people.