It's not often that we see games get remade in an entirely different genre, but that's essentially what Utawarerumono: Zan is. The Utawarerumono (you better believe we have that name copied and ready to paste) series typically focuses on strategic, turn based and grid based combat, but with Zan, Utawarerumono steps into unfamiliar action title territory. The result is a Dynasty Warriors-esque game with visual novel-style story telling.
Zan actually retells the tale of Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, but snappier pacing takes away a lot of the plot's depth, especially when it comes to character interactions. Think of it like this: Zan is the boiled-down TV adaptation of a bulky 400 page novel. The main story beats are there, but it misses out on a lot of the things that made the source material so charming.
Meanwhile, the hack and slash gameplay is fun, if a little basic. Missions take place on relatively small maps typically stuffed with enemies. You bring up to four characters into battle and can switch between them at will. When you're not controlling your allies, the AI takes over, and thankfully, it does a good job of backing you up.
The playable character roster caps out at 12, but each fighter feels unique -- from swordsmen and archers to a little girl riding a giant bird. Unlocking new characters as you progress through the story -- subsequently levelling them up through dull but weirdly addictive side missions -- is a key gameplay hook, and discovering the powers of your newest ally is always enjoyable.
Utawarerumono: Zan is a decent action RPG that doesn't take too long to beat, but at full retail price, it feels like an overly expensive endeavour -- especially for existing fans of the series.