Ryu’s Musings: Touhou Genso Wanderer (PS4)

touhou-genso-wanderer-478441.6Language: Audio: Japanese, Subs: English
Developer: Aqua Style
Publisher: NIS America
Format: PS4 & PS Vita
Type: Rogue-Like, Dungeon Crawler
Demo Box: PS4 (Old)
Synopsis: One day, Reimu Hakurei is visiting Rinnosuke Morichika at his shop, Kourindo. He shows her one of his prized possessions, the golden sphere. However, when she touches it, it unleashes a mysterious beam of light. Rinnosuke starts acting strange, and a giant tower now stands where Kourindo used to be. The population of Gensokyo has also been replicated by clones who attack people on sight. As the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, it is Reimu’s duty to resolve this latest incident and bring peace back to Gensokyo.
Along the way, she is joined by Futo Mononobe, who has recently set out on a quest to become a first class sage. With her partner in tow, can Reimu make her way through the dungeons of the tower and put an end to this incident?

This is my first Touhou game, and I have to admit it did appeal to me a bit. If you like like Dungeon Crawlers mixed with Rogue Lite, then this is definitely a game you’d enjoy.

The game is gorgeous to look at, with a blend of Visual Novel dialogue and chibi characters running around the map. I feel this blend works well and compliments each other.

The music, is nothing special, but at times can be a bit catchy. However for the most part I ended up turning the BGM off and just having netflix on while I played. Which I have to admit is par of the course when it comes to games like this. None of them really do well in the music department.

One thing I noticed however is that TGW is not your a-typical dungeon crawler, or rogue lite. Sure it has all the elements you’d expect, but it also has a significant focus on story. What this means is you have a lot of down time between dungeons with quite a big chunk of text to read. I’m actually not so sure on how I feel about this.

On the one hand its great to see genre’s getting merged like this, but on the other hand I don’t feel the  Visual Novel aspect has been handled very well.

The problem here is that it’s at times lord of the rings style overboard. For example, fusion, a simple mechanic you’d think, but to unlock it you have to go through this overly long dialogue chain. By the end of this chain I was bored out of my mind. So much text to say absolutely nothing. Sure I don’t mind dialogue, I love Visual Novels, but the dialogue has to feel substantive, which this doesn’t.

Sadly it wasn’t just this one time, it cropped up quite a few times in other shops you go to for the first time. As a result of this the game falls to the pace of a snail crawling uphill. I found I didn’t want to talk to new characters because I was afraid of getting a 30 minute dull dialogue that would send me to sleep.

Once you get past the dialogue though you do get a fairly competent dungeon crawler. Mechanics are what you’d expect in the game, you’ve a special ability that you need to find power for (which you will in abundance), and you basically hack and slash your way through floor after floor of cute chibi girls, both human and yokai.

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One of the things I liked especially though was the tutorial when your running around the dungeon. Unlike a certain other game (looking at you Shiren The Wanderer) that I played recently on my Vita, this tutorial is clean, to the point, and over quickly (mostly, see my above comment on fusion). As you encountered new things it gave a brief visual tutorial and then got you back into the game. YES!!

One of the things you have accept going in with this game though is that it’s a grind fest. The first dungeon you go into is 30 floors, and I found it punishing to get through. If you don’t make full use of the rest stops as they come along, (such as the adorable Yokai Village) you’re basically screwed. There’s no back peddling, so you can’t go back to the village after you leave. You have to push on until the next one pops up.

Of course if you leave the dungeon, then it all resets and you’re back to square one again. Though all the junk you acquired on the run comes along with you.

So, you’re going to have to spend more than a few runs on dungeons to get your gear up to a decent level so as you can tackle things ahead easier. This is the thing to remember about dungeon crawlers, when you win it’s gawd damn awesome! When you fail you want to throw yourself into a vat of rice pud and drown! Thats the essence of dungeon crawlers, and frankly at times I end up hating them lol. Especially when you have two or three bad runs in a row.

Two aspects that is vitally important to this genre, and go hand in hand, is randomness and difficulty. Randomness is essential given the way the game works. Playing levels over and over while grinding loot isn’t fun if everything is the same. So randomness allows for things to, mostly, stay fresh and interesting.

Difficulty is how hard the dungeon kicks your ass. The two go hand in hand, and for the most part the game felt fair. However there were a couple of time where I felt the game was pulling a fast one on me with a huge difficulty spike, where if you don’t have specific items or spells, you’re dead. Those aren’t fun, because they’re cheap deaths. After a few of those I did find myself getting a bit frustrated with the game, having to put it down and walk away for a bit.

Sadly if you have the PS4 version of the game, you’re going to have to deal with screen clutter. By the time everything is done, you can barely see whats on the screen as things like the UI, map (which you cant turn off), and the huge ass damage box covers everything.

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While using the minimal HUD (and HUGE praise for adding that in!!) certainly helps, it also hides critical things that newbie player will need to know, which can lead to some fumbling and mistakes.

However, after all is said and done, this is a competent dungeon crawler. Better than some I’ve played of late, but it’s by no means the best. It’s well worth picking up. This is especially true if you’re grabbing the physical copy of the game, which includes a second game for free: Touhou Double Focus

Author: Ryu Sheng