Touhou Genso Wanderer is a fangame which is turn-based, and features randomly generated maps and equipment, and--while it doesn't have traditional permadeath--it does kick you all the way back to a dungeon's first floor when you die. This entry is made by indie developer Aqua Style, which takes place in the famed Touhou Project universe and is now here to give Nintendo Switch owners the chance to experience a traditional Japanese rogue-like complete with fun characters, charming graphics, and a MASSIVE quantity of randomly crafted loot, and prepare to dive into a very anime-style game that you will either thoroughly enjoy or may not care for depending on the type of gamer that you are.
If you're unfamiliar with the Touhou Project universe and its games, then don’t feel left out as this series hasn’t gained the traction in the West as it has in Japan and this is because the vast majority of Touhou games haven't made it out of their home market, and their home platform tends to be PC, a platform of choice that has only recently become popular in the West as of the last decade for JRPG and anime-influenced titles. With 24 official Touhou games released, and countless fan-made games joining the roster, the scope of the series exceeds even the most imaginative gamer's imagination Touhou games take place in a region of Japan called "Gensokyo," (Land of Illusion), where humans and yokai (Japanese folk monsters) live together. The official Touhou games normally center on a Shrine Maiden, Reimu Hakurei, who lives on the barrier between the world of Gensokyo and our own, and is frequently tasked with offing mischievous yokai.
Genso Wanderer: Reloaded focuses on the Shrine Maiden Reimu Hakurei, who generally bashes the heads of troublesome yokai. In Wanderer, Reimu unwittingly causes the local merchant Rinnosuke to become possessed by a mysterious force that grants him inhuman power. He quickly uses that power to raise a massive tower, and create replica's of local townsfolk and yokai that attack anyone caught in their path The game also makes significant references to the Touhou franchise and previous entries however they are not required to follow the plot of this game.
In the event you are only used to western style rouge-likes and unfamiliar with the eastern take on that very genre then let me explain how this works in their style. Japanese rogue-likes often label dungeon levels as floors, and frequently have players climbing up the levels of a tower, rather than descending downward into a deep dungeon. Touhou Genso Wanderer: Reloaded uses both tile maps and the tower motif. Touhou Genso Wanderer: Reloaded's gameplay is primarily top-down, turn-based exploration and combat through a series of floors (essentially dungeon crawling). Defeating enemies grants players experience points, which are either given all to Reimu, or divided between her and her follower (which you have the option of travelling with, or without). As per traditional RPG fashion, gaining enough XP levels up the player characters' stats, and increases their hunger and life bars.
This game lives up to it being a very rouge-like experience which at times can feel unforgiving, I will say this: prepare for a bombardment of information to be thrown at you out of the blue and prepare to read EVERYTHING in order to understand the deeper mechanics of the game. Stat bars will literally fill the screen and you’ll have a map taking over what's left over. To say that it is overwhelming at first would be a severe understatement if you’re not used to dungeon crawling niche rouge-like experiences such as this and it does take some getting used to but for the most part, the stats are self-explanatory: health points are at the top for each character in your party, along with all the collected yen displayed at the bottom - nothing at all out of the ordinary until you notice the 'Tummy' meter, which is nestled just underneath your HP gauge. The game does explain that the Tummy meter is filled by eating food items, but what happens when it's empty? As in real life, eventually you will die of hunger if you don’t eat; do keep in mind that the game never explicitly tells you this, which says a ton about its distribution of necessary information.
As far as the accessibility goes, there are a plethora of simple controls that make dungeon crawling very comfortable. Players can hold the ZR button to speed over tiles quickly, or press "A" to dash directly to the nearest point of interest. Players can also hold “R” button to lock Reimu into the diagonal movement mode, eliminating the need of trying to press two directions at once. There are several severe difficulty spikes that are very noticeable. Often you’ll be breezing through a floor and then on the next floor, you'll stumble across an enemy or obstacle that will decimate you. Given that there’s no way to tell how dangerous each floor will be, it's within reason to understand that you will find yourself suddenly KO'd and sent straight back to the beginning of the dungeon to start again. As the game fits within the rogue-like genre, it's not an altogether surprising turn of events to find a sudden difficulty spike, but that doesn’t remove the frustration of this happening and frequently and to avoid further frustration you may find yourself going back to the Switch’s home screen to close the game and reload it as this game often auto-saves and you may not want it to do so in certain events.
Following the event of a KO, your weapons will retain their experience and you'll find them at the same level, but Reimu along with whoever you've added to your party will be back to level 1. You will be faced with a temptation to rush through each of the levels utilizing your higher levelled weapons and shields, unfortunately you won't really be rewarded for doing so. It’s best for you to resist the urge to do so and focus on levelling up sensibly as the best way to survive the more punishing levels, but sometimes doing so still won't be enough. You’ll notice that It's easy to find yourself surrounded by enemies, but this is where the game's previously mentioned higher levels of weapons come into play. Each of your weapons, shields, and charms have various protections, stat buffs, and effects, and some also have empty slots where more bonuses can be added. In order to add bonuses and buffs such as attack +3 or defense +4), players are able to use a device unlocked early in the game that destroys unwanted items, while transferring their effects to a desired one.
In Touhou Genso Wanderer: Reloaded you have the 3D environments along with the characters, their portrait artwork, and then 3D cutscenes. The environment and character models are in a chibi-style, and fit perfectly with the rogue-like gameplay. Despite being the artstyle, there are tons of details on both Reimu, the enemies, and all the NPC's (even the non-quest granting ones). The environments are likewise detailed, and hold a slightly cartoon-esque and painted feel that matches the light-hearted anime tone. The 3D cutscenes are pretty good, nothing amazing but nothing bad at all. Many would consider these cutscenes as a throwback to the early PS2 days which don’t at all bother me but to many it may be offputting so do keep that in mind. The soundtrack is very fitting of the setting and is quite catchy, nothing more nothing less.
Wrapping things up, if you’re unfamiliar with or never have played a traditional Japanese take on a rogue-like then you definitely should give Touhou Genso Wanderer: Reloaded a chance albeit with a caveat that you go into the game with an open mind that you’ll be experiencing something much different from the norm of what you may be used to. It definitely makes for one of the most accessible rougue-like experiences available and succeeds in doing this without having to sacrificing any of the fun or sheer content it wants to showcase. Definitely a buy and is KASANOVA APPROVED!