Touhou Gensou Wanderer - PlayStation 4 Review

You must defeat the evil Rinnosuke to stand a chance.

  • System: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
  • Publisher: NIS America
  • Developer: AQUA STYLE | Mediascape Co., Ltd
  • Release Date: March 21, 2017 [US] | March 24, 2017 [EU]

Touhou Gensou Wanderer - Official Trailer

Who it Caters to

Do you enjoy Touhou? Are roguelike games something you fancy? Had experience playing Shiren the Wanderer? Then look no further than Touhou Gensou Wanderer, as it’s essentially the same thing as Shiren the Wanderer but this time, it’s all dressed up in Touhou fashion for those who fancy that genre. NIS America brought this game to the west and we’re quite glad they did because roguelike games are extremely fun and when you tie in the very lighthearted and often times quirky humor found throughout the narrative, you get a nice experience.

What to Expect

Anyone who’s dabbled with roguelike games will know that in order to make your way to the top, you’ll have to be resourceful as items can be scarce at times, and enemies can quite frequently surprise you and make matters more threatening. Touhou Gensou Wanderer plays very similarly if not the exact same as Shiren the Wanderer albeit cosmetic changes to characters and stage layouts within the game but still comes with a lot of excitement as you progress through each floor towards the main boss.

There’s a handful of things to learn such as Nitori’s Nito Fusion, which allows you to mix items together to create even more powerful ones, along with being able to fuse together weapons and armor using points you accumulate through playing. The more floors you ascend in the game the more challenging the game becomes, as enemies become a lot stronger and will find ways to trap you and dispose of you.

Story

You star as Reimu, the maiden of Hakurei Shrine, who’s on a personal mission to uncover the truth behind the Gensokyo incident and must rely on characters throughout the game to guide you along the way. You start off in the stormy Human Village but then she finds herself in Kourindo and is confronted by Rinnosuke, who holds the golden sphere in his hand. Curious about the golden sphere, Reimu tries to take hold of it but Rinnosuke prevents her from doing so. However when Reimu’s finger touched the sphere everything changed, as a glow of light dispersed across the room and now, the Rinnosuke she once knew is now filled with darkness.

Gameplay

Touhou Roguelike Battles!

Touhou Gensou Wanderer is a single player game that comes with its limitations in terms of options but makes up for that with its very fun and challenging approach. As we stated before, Touhou Gensou Wanderer plays and feels a lot like Shiren the Wanderer but with the obvious character and stage changes to avoid copyright. By no means is that a bad thing because taking inspiration from one of the most celebrated roguelike titles out there should be seen as a compliment and not as anything else. You traverse through each floor strategically trying to avoid as many battles as possible, because there are times when battles really aren’t necessary and you honestly want to reach the main town to refresh your inventory. Along the way, you’ll encounter some humorous narrative between Reimu and other characters, which adds a breath of fresh air to an often times irritating climb to the top.

Now we don’t mean irritating as in pesky controls or performance issues, because this game runs smoothly and looks great, but rather as you hit level 20 or higher every decision you make is imperative to your survival. You’ll be constantly keeping track of your movements and strategically swiping your sword in place to bring enemies closer to avoid being bombarded while making sure your red bean buns and green tea is fully stocked. As we mentioned earlier fusing weapons will become more of a necessity long term than just a bonus because, enemies will at times surprise you with extremely powerful magic spells that take off a massive chunk of health and you’ll need to exterminate them quickly before other enemies start to smell the scent of your draining health bar.

Fortunately, you’re teamed up with Futo, a sage who’s on a personal journey to uncover the truth behind Gensokyo’s incident, and comes with some powerful spells as well to assist you along the way. You can change who you’d like to travel with, so if you favor a certain Touhou girl then the option to do is there!

You can delegate tasks to Futo such as targeting enemies as they approach, playing the more passive role by simply following you, investigating more of the dungeon on her own, or placing her on standby in the location you’re currently situated in. Most of the time you’d be wanting her assistance since it allows Futo to level up her weaponry and armor as well, but comes in handy especially when surrounded by enemies. Reimu can pick up various talismans such as the impede talisman that can slow down enemy movements, or if you want to strategically save all of your powerful items and restart fresh with everything intact you could use the Return-of-Hakurei Jump seal to go back to base.

These seals, however, are always random, and so you’re never guaranteed to find the exact one you need, therefore purchasing what’s known as Preserve Gap’s are vital to your longevity. We’ll be honest, some of the talismans in the game are kind of useless and so most of your time will be desperately searching for seals since they not only can deal massive damage to enemies on the entire stage, but they come in handy when removing status effects on your characters.

Survive at All Costs!

Much like your survival horror games, Touhou Gensou Wanderer encourages you to manage your inventory and let go of things that simply take up space. This becomes another strategy in itself because while some items may not seem useful at the moment, you’ll soon come to regret throwing it away when you encounter a gang of yokai who desire to kill you as soon as possible. Paying very close attention to what you need and don’t need at the right time are crucial to your overall success, and making sure to not be negligent with your items is paramount. You don’t want to overuse your seals or even your green tea in one floor because then the next floor may not grant you the same results since everything is sporadic.

Fortunately, if you feel like things are starting to overwhelm you, choosing to suspend your game is warranted and so you can take a step back to think about the next plan of action. The game is not overly difficult by any means, but much like any roguelike game out there it serves up enough of a challenge that will test your wits and see just how organized you are.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

One major thing that’s missing from Touhou Gensou Wanderer and perhaps why it feels so limiting is an online feature. We would’ve loved to play this game co-op or at least incorporate some form of high score rank to see how other players have progressed. It’s not the be all end all by any means as Gensou Wanderer is still a blast to play, but it sure would’ve added an extra element of fun in the long run. There are only 3 options available which are New Game, Continue and Cross Save, with the latter not even being used so it felt like a waste in the end. We do love the overall design of the game because it all feels clean and refreshing, without dampening anything else.

The Nito Fusion system was great to tinker with and we could create some very powerful tools to kill off the enemy a lot faster, while the vast array of seals to use in battle are useful and can come in handy when reviving Futo. Sadly you can’t physically control Futo in cases where Reimu dies, so you have to start from scratch once that happens. Kind of unfortunate and a little bothersome especially when you’re so close to the top floors, but honestly it wouldn’t be a roguelike if it were so easy to do so. So while there’s room to bicker about such issues, it doesn’t honestly take away from anything so we encourage you to really test your roguelike skills in this one!

Honey's Pros:

  • 38 Floors to climb, all with random and often challenging battles.
  • Organized inventory window, simple interface.
  • Amusing narrative.
  • Great character and level design.

Honey's Cons:

  • Lacking online features hurts its replayability.
  • Barebone in terms of options.

Honey's Final Verdict:

Aside from its lack of online features and barebone options, Touhou Gensou Wanderer still provides that quintessential roguelike experience with some added humor taking all the tension off at times. You’ll be scurrying around strategically to collect items while doing your best to avoid pandemonium rooms which can really be deadly if you’re lacking in spells or weapon strength. That’s the fun of Gensou Wanderer, you’ll always be experiencing something new on each floor and nothing is ever the same since RNG always places enemy spawns in different locations to keep you guessing. Once you’ve dived into Touhou Gensou Wanderer let us know what you think in the comments section below when it drops March 21st in the US and the 24th in EU. Be sure to also share our reviews on social media to help promote the Honey’s community!

As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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