While there are quite a few visual novels, there are very few games that mix the visual novel genre with strategy role playing. Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen does just that. Fans of the visual novel genre will likely enjoy the game, while those looking for more of the role playing aspects, might be left a little disappointed.
The protagonist in the story is a young man who, on the brink of death, was found by a young healer named Eruruu, and was brought back to her village to mend. The character you play has no recollection of his name or what happened to him. This is how the story begins. From a narrative perspective, the game does a nice job of dropping you right into the situation, and as a player, you learn along with the main character about Eruruu, her village, and the surrounding areas.
The game also does a nice job of pulling you into the story and caring about the characters. Not only is the story well written, but it is all voice acted, and well too. The voice acting is complimented by anime style artwork. While there isn't much, if any, animation with the artwork, fans of anime will appreciate the style none the less. This is pretty common among most visual novels.
Each segment of the story is broken into scenes and as the player, you can pick which scene to go to next. However, picking one scene to start with over another doesn't have any consequences in the story. As the player, you will have to pick all the scenes before you can move on in the story.
Unfortunately, there is no interaction or choices that you make in any of the story scenes. There's a lot of story which includes a lot of watching the story unfold. For those that love story driven games with no interaction or choices being made, this will be a real treat. For players that are looking for more interaction in the story, you're not going to find that in this game.
The part that does require some player interaction is in the battles. The battles play out in a grid like battlefield, thus the strategy role playing aspect of the game. And the battles are done very well, which each decision you make has weight on how the battle will play out. And each battle has win/lose scenarios, which makes it important on how you plan your attack.
However, the game is more focused on story than battles. In fact, you'll put in a good hour and a half before you get to your first battle. For those that are looking for more of the strategy combat, that's a long wait.
Final Grade: B
What the game does well is tell a story. The voice acting and artwork enhance the story and the experience. Fans of anime will love the story, the story telling elements and humor will pull you in. Those that are looking for more game play however, will find themselves wanting more.
Review code provided by NIS America