The Touhou series of games has been a popular ‘Bullet Hell’ series in Japan for quite some time now. In North America we haven’t had the opportunity to experience this series–until now. Touhou Genso Wanderer is being released both on the Playstation 4 and Vita (as well as Touhou Double Focus.) so you’ll be able to play it both at home and on the go. Touhou Genso Wanderer is a rogue-like dungeon crawling RPG that provides the Touhou characters and humor, in a challenging and unique gameplay experience.
Touhou Genso Wanderer puts players in the role of Reimu Hakurei, a shrine maiden that has to save her home from the dark powers of an orb that now controls her friend Rinnosuke. It is up to Reimu to resolve this latest mishap and bring peace back to Gensokyo. During her journey, she is joined by Futo Mononobe, a young girl that has recently set out on a quest to become a first class sage. The people of Gensokyo have been cloned and turned into aggressive combatants that Reimu must face along her journey. To make matters worse, Rinnosuke’s shop has been replaced by a giant tower, which Reimu must scale if she hopes to save her home.
Touhou Genso Wanderer incorporates a turn-based format. When Reimu moves or takes an action, other enemies move and attack as well. Some enemies can perform long-range attacks, while others have to get in close to hit you. Reimu has two resources you need to keep an eye out for, HP (which is her total health) and her Tummy bar, which depletes as you take actions. If her Tummy bar runs out, Reimu will lose HP. Eating food will replenish the tummy bar.
Reimu will level up as you defeat enemies, increasing her stats and her overall HP. Additionally, as you fight with equipped weapons, armor, and accessories, they will level up as well. This makes it easier for you to progress through each floor of the tower ahead. Futo Mononobe works as your partner, fighting things alongside Reimu, and enabling you to manage her equipment and capabilities just like you can with Reimu. Futo also levels up like Reimu, but is affected by Danmaku attacks that Reimu uses. You will need to be careful not to cast your Danmaku spells carelessly.
Danmaku are special attacks that allow you to use power points to provide multiple effects which can range from attacking every enemy surrounding you to hitting enemies from long distances. Danmaku can save you from any number of dangerous situations, so using it to get out of a bind can be greatly helpful. Touhou Genso Wanderer is very unpredictable, as all of the items you pick up (such as potions and food items) will be unidentified. This requires you to either find items to identify them or risk having a negative effect by eating or consuming them.
If you find a beneficial potion or item, you can synthesize more using Nito Fusion. Nito Fusion allows you to either create items from materials or fuse equipment together in order to enhance your capabilities. Sadly, fusion isn’t free, you have to have Nito Points (which can be collected from defeating enemies and exploring) in order to utilize the service.
Touhou Genso Wanderer is a fun game, but the dialogue carries on far too long (even for a story-driven gamer such as myself) and usually is just nonsense with a little bit of useful information sprinkled in. It is incredibly difficult as well, requiring quite a lot of trial and error in order to progress. Despite that, Touhou Genso Wanderer has this sense of satisfaction that comes when you progress deeper into its depths, and each time you die there is a hunger to get past the area that caused you trouble. This is made easier by the fact that Touhou Genso Wanderer has a cross-buy function, meaning that if you buy the game on both Playstation 4 and Vita. Touhou Genso Wanderer plays beautifully on both platforms, and with the cross-save function you can play at home, save your game, then carry the adventure on the go with your Playstation Vita.
Overall, Touhou Genso Wanderer is a decent game, sadly though it is frustrating to the point that the fun of exploring and experiencing the procedurally generated dungeons makes the fun factor somewhat diminished. Combining that with the nonsensical storyline and annoying characters, Touhou Genso Wanderer is limited and held back from as great as it could truly be. I enjoyed what I played of it and there’s a lot of potential, but it doesn’t seem to have what it takes to keep players interested for longer than a few sessions of play. The cross-play function extends that a bit more, but it doesn’t save the game from its shortcomings.
Touhou Genso Wanderer Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita review keys were provided by NIS America for the purpose of this Review.