Review: Utawarerumono Zan is a complementary beat-’em-up

When it comes to visual novels, there’s a specific complaint that often comes up. People unfamiliar with the genre can sometimes be quick to point out how little "gameplay" there is in such affairs. It was a criticism volleyed at both Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth, two visual novels that didn’t offer players much agency, in terms of choices, and only occasionally broke up the narrative with a battle or two during appropriate events. Utawarerumono: Zan feels like a direct response to such this kind of grievance, but it might go too far when trying to rectify those gripes.

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What do you need to know about Tokyo RPG Factory?

There are certain smaller studios out there making Japanese games that are gradually growing in notoriety. One of them is Tokyo RPG Factory, a developer that most people probably know as the one that is owned by Square Enix. (Other acceptable answers include “the one that makes sad games” or “the one where all the games look a lot alike.” It’s been five years since its founding in 2014, and the company has kept on trucking. In fact, it has a new game coming out this year! Which means now is the perfect time to figure out more about it and why you may want to take an interest in the team’s games.

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Games like Valkyrie Profile are getting more prevalent

Some games have a rather unusual way of conveying information and taking people on an adventure, and we then see that mechanic mimicked. Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution and GuitarFreaks led to games like Pump It Up and Guitar Hero. Tri-Ace’s Valkyrie Profile is a similar sort. It’s an RPG, but blends in platforming and a more active interface for engaging in attacks. But, as interesting as its ideas were, they didn’t really influence other games at the time. Rather, it took years for other titles to start picking up on the concepts and attempting to integrate them into their own experiences.

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What could the Dragon Quest Builders 3 twist be?

The Dragon Quest Builders games have twists to them. Each one has a story that pulls something from a past Dragon Quest game and uses it for the base of its story. The first installment of Dragon Quest Builders pulled from the original Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest Builders 2 further developed a critical character who didn’t get much attention in Dragon Quest II. So, what could happen with Dragon Quest Builders 3? Presuming it follows the same pattern, we might be able to think about some ideas of how things could go.

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Umihara Kawase’s latest incarnations inject more life into the game

For many years, who Umihara Kawase is was a mystery. Past games established her as a traveling sushi chef. They never explained how she ended up in a strange world with doors leading to nowhere and bipedal fish. Instead, it offered a “just go with it” approach. Yet now, suddenly new games are adding unprecedented context. By refreshing the series with Umihara Kawase Fresh and bringing her in as a crossover character for games like Blade Strangers, we have more substance.

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