This is not a review of Shiren the Wanderer. It really isnt. I feel I need to stress that because I’m going to be bringing it up a lot. Why am I going to be talking about Shiren the Wanderer? Well, because Touhou Genso Wanderer is pretty much a reskin of the recent PS Vita game, Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate.
Touhou Genso Wanderer falls under the category of Mystery Dungeon games. These are turn-based, rogue-like games where the player explores randomly generated levels, fighting monsters to reach the final area, in the case of Touhou Genso Wanderer, to reach the top of the tower. The turn-based nature of the game is set up so that when the player moves a step or attacks, the enemies will also take one action. As you kill enemies you gain experience to level up as a character and also you’re current equipment levels up. As well as managing health, you need to keep an eye on your “tummy” gauge – basically your hunger meter. The longer you play the hungrier the character becomes and unless you eat food, you die. When you do die (and you will!) you restart at the first area again and you start back at the first floor with zero experience. So far everything I’ve described is the same as for Shiren the Wanderer. If you’ve played Shiren, then you will feel right at home with Touhou Genso Wanderer. I personally loved Shiren the Wanderer and had sunk tens of hours into the game so I had mixed feelings about playing a game that was identical in so many ways.
You play the game as Reimu who is going on a journey to rescue her friend Rinnosuke, that has become possessed by an evil force. I have not played any Touhou Games previously so the characters were unfamiliar to me. The premise for the game was fine but the characters and dialog were awkward. Jokes fell flat and in some cases it seemed like the translation was off and left me wondering “who would talk like this?” Dialog scenes also went on far too long without adding anything to the story or the characters. The scenes can be skipped fortunately but there is a risk that you’ll miss some nuggets of useful information for instance about equipment or item fusion.
One element I disliked about Shiren the Wanderer was the overly long tutorials. I was close to giving up on the game in the first few hours due it being too difficult and dense. Touhou Genso Wanderer strips out the long tutorials. There is a 10 minute introduction of the core mechanics and then the game tells you to learn everything else as you play. I liked this approach and appreciated that the game didn’t waste too much time with explaining every mechanic in minutia, however I can imagine for new players the game may be much harder as they aren’t familiar with the gameplay. I did find Touhou Genso Wanderer easier than Shiren the wanderer and I reached the final boss on my first playthrough. Although, I don’t think this would be the case for those new to the game type.
Unlike Shiren, when you die you keep your equipment and items and your equipment remains levelled up. You can also fuse your weapons and armour to other equipment to grant them new abilities and to improve their stats and these stats also carry over into subsequent playthroughs. This element made the game easier after each death. Rather than death being a penalty for failure, it becomes an opportunity to level your weapon and armour up further. However it also made the game easier because your equipment becomes overpowered the more you play. I reached the final boss on every playthrough of the game which was not the case for Shiren. The game compensates for having easier levels with an insanely difficult final boss for the core game and even harder optional dungeons to play in post-game. It took Me around 10 attempts before I finally managed to beat the main game boss. I found it frustrating to have a difficulty spike so high that I needed to die again and again to finally level up my weapons sufficiently to beat the boss. Shiren had a more progressive difficulty rather than one big spike at the end.
The graphics are cute, chibi style anime characters. It suits the game fine although all the enemies are all clones of young girls. It took me a while to differentiate them enough so that I knew which were real threats and which could be killed with one hit.
Once you complete the main quest you then unlock 3 new dungeons with increasing difficulty. I completed one and got to the final boss on the next dungeon but could not beat him. I played for around 25 hours and that’s without finishing the hard and very hard dungeons. It’s a very difficult game to platinum especially when you have the risk of the equipment you’ve been levelling for 20 hours being stolen from you – which is what happened to me just before I reached the boss of the hard dungeon!
My review is coloured by the fact that I played Shiren the Wanderer first and loved it. Touhou Genso Wanderer handles the first few hours of the game better than Shiren but it can also be frustrating replaying the same easy levels over and over just to reach a final boss that is so difficult. Having said that, I really enjoyed the game because it does have the same addictive and complex mechanics that I enjoyed with Shiren. When I first started the game I had written it off in my head as just a clone of another game but that wasn’t fair. It may feel like a clone but it’s a clone of an amazing game that does so much right and manages even now to make me want to go back and have another shot at the hard dungeon.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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