How to Take Off Your Mask
Lilia, the lead character of How To Take Off Your Mask, happily spent her days working in her grandmother’s bakery and hanging out with her childhood friend Ronan. However, her life is turned upside down when she wakes up one day only to discover that she has turned into a half-human, half-cat creature called a Luccretia. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Lilia soon discovers that her fellow citizens barely tolerate the Luccretia and there is even a group that is in favor of exiling all cat people from the city!
How To Take Off Your Mask is an otome visual novel from roseVeRte, the publisher the East Tower titles. It follows the adventures of Lilia, whose name can be changed by the way, as she learns how to handle her new duel-identity. Along the way Lilia also discovers that she is not the only one living a double life, which leads to quite a few humorous situations. Although HTTOYM is an otome title, there is only one romanceable guy and the story is interesting enough to appeal to a broad audience. You’ll have to be comfortable viewing scenes of shirtless guys, but this visual novel never ventures into the eroge territories favored by some other titles in the genre.
HTTOYM features quite a small cast and not many locations, but makes up for this with a rather engrossing story. The setting, which mixes fantasy elements, such as castles and city guards, with technology, such as listening devices, is rather neat and the game also features plenty of humor. In fact, there were a few scenes that had me laughing out loud. Although rather short, HOTTOYM isn’t completely linear and you are given a couple of choices along the way. Towards the middle of the game the story branches allowing you to choose whether you want to focus on Lilia in her human or Luccretia form. This adds some replay value and there is also a short bonus chapter after finishing all the other paths. Lilia is quite a charming character, in both her human and Luccretia forms, so replaying the game to check out both routes is definitely worth the effort. Thankfully, her love interest is also likeable enough that you’ll be rooting for their happiness.
The game features some nice artwork, with plenty of details for the characters. There isn’t a large amount of CGs, but the ones that are featured look good. The giant “MENU” button displayed at the bottom of the screen is rather distracting at first, but becomes a little less obtrusive as you become engrossed in the story.
We’ve got nothing but praise for the soundtrack, which includes some beautiful tunes, including the theme song, Take Off Your Mask, featuring Japanese vocals by Kuyuri. The other tracks are also really good, particularly the piano based ones, like “Ochiba”. The game features an “EXTRAS” menu from where the music can be enjoyed, along with the CGs and movies that are unlocked.
HTTOYM also features full Japanese voice acting for all the characters, which adds to the polished feel of the game. Interspersed between the music and voice acting are also some nice sound effects to bring the story to life. Our only complaint is that there is one particular sound effect, played whenever characters experience something startling, which occurs a little too often. It is not unusual to hear it a couple of times during one scene, which can get a little grating.
Although not particularly deep, How To Take Off Your Mask is well written and explores some interesting themes. It is still rather linear, but the branching storyline and choices at least provides it with a bit more replay value than a kinetic visual novel. The likeable characters and strong humor definitely set the game apart, but since there is a free demo available we encourage everyone to try it out first.