By Dyllis "Mimi Mochi" Harmans on September 19, 2019
Utawarerumono: ZAN is an excellent action brawler game, developed by Tamsoft and published by Aquaplus and NIS America. The game was released on September 10 in the US, on September 13 in Europe and it is set to be released on September 20 in Australia and New Zealand. In Utawarerumono: ZAN, you put together your team and fight hordes of enemies! The game is a retelling of the story of Hakuoro and his friends.
The original Utawarerumono was first released as a tactical role playing visual novel in 2002 for PC by a development called Leaf. It was later made for various Playstation consoles by another developer called Sting and even got a manga and anime adaptation. I myself haven't played the older games, nor seen the anime, but I am still looking forward to play this title! It looks like a lot of fun getting to know all the different characters and fighting styles.
The game starts with a girl named Kuon, who meets a boy who is wounded and has no recollection of who he is. Kuon decides to call the boy Hakuoro, or Haku for short. Haku is taken back to the girl's village and nursed back to health, after which he sets out on a grand adventure. Together with friends that Haku meets along the way, he must make his way through perilous lands and fight monsters and other enemies along the way. I have read that the original game has over 30 hours of story to follow, but this game only has 18 chapters which you will finish pretty quickly. The last few chapters are a bit more difficult that the previous ones, but overall there is about 5 hours of story in Utawarerumono: ZAN The game shifts its attention more to the action side of things, so it skips through the story briefly.
The enemies come in waves of big groups. Based on the story, you play a certain character who each have their own attacks and special abilities. During the missions you get certain goals you'll have to achieve. This usually begins with defeating about fifty or so weaker enemies, followed by three stronger ones and, at the end, a mini boss battle. Before you start the missions you get the chance to select your team members. There is a maximum of four members and a minimum of one. Sometimes certain characters will be locked, due to events in the story. During the fight you can find scrolls and other items to assist you in battle.
The controls are pretty straight forward, you have a button for locking onto enemies, one for basic attacks, one for special attacks and a jump button. The goal is to make certain combo's in order to create new attacks. You can also use bonus points, which you will be able to collect during fights, to make your characters stronger. You can invest some points to attack for extra damage, of to HP for more life. You can also earn different outfits for each character, so there is enough to play around with!
The soundtracks are really pretty and serene, and get more epic during fights. The art style is really cute, and the characters are lovingly crafted. They all have their own personality which makes it interesting to meet new people. All of the dialogues are dubbed with Japanese voices, which I personally always really like. It gives the story so much more depth and makes it easier to understand the different personalities.
I really liked playing this game, though I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had played the previous games, of had watched the anime (so I might still do that), as it is aimed at an audience who is familiar with the series. Overall I think it was fun to meet all the different characters, even though it skips over the story on some parts, or gets summarized. You will definitely enjoy this title if you like visual novels. But you will especially like this game if you are already a fan of the series, so you can enjoy the story again but then packed with action elements!