Friday, March 24, 2017

Touhou Genso Wanderer (PS4) Review

Touhou Genso Wanderer is a mystery dungeon style game.  If you aren't familiar with that, you basically run through multiple floors of a simple randomly generated dungeon to get to the end, fight a boss, and then leave.  You have to contend with limited item space, many enemies, traps, and hunger to survive.  Leaving resets your level at 1.  Dying means returning to base with little to no items.

Fortunately, Genso Wanderer lets you keep your items when you die.  You will lose all of your money, though.  This makes it easier to do subsequent runs, since you hold on to your main equipment, but also useful items.  However, the game seems very liberal with the traps that make your weapons weaker, in an effort to balance things out.

It also does a few other nice things.  The main character, Reimu, has four skills you can use while fighting, and each is useful in different situations.  There's a ranged one (my most used one), a skill that hits the three panels in front of you, a piercing distance shot, and an AoE that hits the eight panels surrounding you.  Each of these skills takes a certain number of Danmaki energy, represented by the red-boxed "P" under your health.  You collect a lot of these during your travels, so you can definitely use them when you need them.  Might as well, since they don't stay with you when you leave.

Reimu also has partners that can tag along on the dungeon excursions.  While they can get into trouble on their own, I found that they are extremely helpful.  They also have their own set of skills, but aren't the best judge of when to use them.  You get more as you go through the game, each with different abilities and stats.  Plus, you can also unlock other characters to play as, but I wasn't good enough to get any.

Instead of having smaller dungeons and more of them, Genso Wanderer has longer ones that change scenery every few levels.  The first dungeon changes themes at least five times, and is long enough to have three different shop floors.  The first shop area is a yokai town, which houses the kappa house.  Donating money to each of the three kappa girls (the amounts are separate, which I don't think the game informed me of) can upgrade their facilities.  Thankfully one of them lets you warp to the different shop areas, and as such, was my priority for donations.  Especially since the home base doesn't have a shop to sell your extra stuff to.  Since you lose the money when you die, might as well spend it on some useful items and upgrading the facilities.

To fuse weapons, armor and items, you need Nico points.  These are also dropped by enemies and can be stored at your home base.  Fusion is how you transfer skills and upgrades to other pieces of equipment.  This is probably my favorite aspect of the game.  There are a wide variety of skills, and it's fairly easy to move them to useful pieces of equipment.  More slots open up as the item's level increases, and you can see what skills transfer to what types of equipment.  Alternatively, you can also use Nico points to create some items.  Unlike fusion, item creation is cheap, but needs random drops as ingredients.

The game offers a good length of play, but a lot of it is trudging through the same dungeons over and over until you can complete it.  Even the first boss is stupid hard, necessitating several trips.  I'd prefer taking less damage, since your health is so low.  Equipping a shield didn't seem to help, as the extra damage from dual wielding made enemies die faster, and thus, do less damage.  There's also a couple of story arcs, each with their own dungeons.  You can also unlock a few extra locations, and some dungeons have up to 99 floors.

As mystery dungeon games go, Touhou Genso Wanderer is pretty good.  I prefer more dungeons but smaller, and ramping up to the longer ones, as opposed to what the game offers.  I like that you keep your stuff when you die, and the skills are nice and useful.  That's about all it does to distinguish itself from others in the genre.  I'm still not a huge fan of mystery dungeon games, but I'm sure fans of the genre will like Genso Wanderer.  It might seem easier at first, since you keep your inventory, but the later dungeons won't let you take anything in, and go to 99 floors, ensuring there is plenty of challenge for the diehards.

The Good:
A mystery dungeon game that lets you keep all your items when you die!  I didn't think I'd see the day...

The Bad:
First boss is pretty cheap, and, in the beginning, the dungeons are too long.

The SaHD:
I was very happy to see the attack range extension so early in the game.

(Review code for Touhou Genso Wanderer was provided by the publisher)

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