The best way to describe Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is that it is a rogue-like RPG. You progress through dungeons on your way to the end, levelling up as you go, and death resets you back to the start. Items carry to your next run, but your characters level is dropped back to level 1, and you lose all the money you had on you.
Each level is randomly generated, so no two play-throughs will be the same. That means you are unable to memorise the best path to the end of each level, referred to as floors. This is both refreshing and frustrating. The refreshing part is that after you die and are forced back to the first floor, you aren’t going to have to trudge through the same levels you completed before. As for the frustrating part, no matter how different each floor is from one another, they all essentially feel the same, which makes every level feel the same anyway.
All this is well and good, but what do you do in Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded exactly? Well, essentially you wander around in an isometric viewpoint. The game is pseudo turn-based, in that every action is resolved on a turn-by-turn basis, but walking around a dungeon doesn’t feel like it is turn-based. You only really notice the turn-based nature of the game when you are fighting enemies.
Fighting is both straightforward and complex. Everything you do takes an action, and each action is followed by your opponents taking an action. For example, if you take a step, the enemies will move, if you attack, the enemies will move, if you use a spell, the enemies will move. If you don’t take an action the enemies will just stand there waiting for you to take your turn.
You can use weapons for physical attacks, and there is a wide variety to choose from. There are swords, fans, sticks, and chisels just to name a few. Each weapon has its own stats, and the more enemies you kill with a weapon, the more that weapon levels up. The levels of your weapons carry between runs, so that level 20 sword you have won’t revert back to level 1 after you die.
There are also magic attacks you can use, which is basically your long range and crowd control attacks. There are 4 different attacks to choose from. The first is a single shot that you fire at the enemy in front of you. Second is a single shot that will fire through all enemies in front of you, damaging all that it hits. The third fires three shots, one directly in front, and two diagonally in front. And lastly, the fourth attack damages all enemies directly around you. These attacks use up a meter, which you can replenish by collecting red P squares you find on each floor.
Items and your tummy
You will need to use items if you want to survive. Items range from your basic healing potions to devastating attacks that will clear out an entire room. You will also find food along the way, which is needed to fill up your tummy meter. The tummy meter is essentially your turn counter, with each action taking away from your tummy. If it runs out, then you die. Honestly, this aspect of the game is more annoying than anything and doesn’t feel like it adds much to the game.
That said, some weird things can happen with the food. If you stand on a fire trap, it will burn your food, frozen traps will freeze food, and basically, any attack you endure could have an effect on the food you are carrying. Eating tainted food is not the best idea, with some side-effects being quite bizarre. I experienced one incident where the food made my Reimu hallucinate, seeing all items and enemies as floating heads.
A relaxing town visit
When in a town, you can do the basics you would expect, such as rest at an inn to replenish your health and tummy, to buying and selling items and weapons. You can also make use of other services, such as trading items for food, and merging items together to make better versions of what you want. This goes for weapons and armour as well, which is obviously handy.
Overall the gameplay has a lot going on, with many complex layers to wrap your head around, but in the end, it boils down to just finding your way to the next floor, attacking enemies in an almost turn-based fashion, dying, repeating. It ends up feeling overly ambitious a lot of the time and not coming together in a way that it feels it could have.
The voice acting in Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is all in Japanese, and is excellent. Each characters performance is full of personality, and adds life to the still images you see. I wish I could say the rest of the games audio was stellar, but alas it is average at best. Swinging a weapon sounds the same no matter what it is, and has a generic swooshing sound. Attacks sound like violent high-fives, and magic attacks sound equally as tame. It is never shockingly bad mind you, but it just does nothing to add the the game whatsoever.
As for the music, it is largely forgettable. It sounds like they have gone for a traditional Japanese-style soundtrack, but each track just disappears into the background, never standing out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a terrible soundtrack can completely ruin an experience, but this collection of songs doesn’t really add anything to the game either.
Visuals & Performance
Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is both gorgeous and hideous. The anime art style is excellent, with each character being full of detail, and clearly drawn with a lot of love. The best of this is seen in the visual novel-style cutscenes, which is where the character interactions take place.
When it comes to the dungeon crawling though, the game kind of looks like a bit of a mess. The characters become chibi versions of themselves, which is essentially just a cutesy look where the characters heads are as big as their bodies. These characters contrast on a very bland background which is styled in a way that makes the characters look like they don’t belong.
Special moves can look flashy, with flames erupting all over the screen, and this moments are quite nice to see. That said, when the move is over you are back to the rather messy look of the dungeon, which is a shame. That said, the animation of the character is very good, and full of detail.
As for the performance, I never experienced any problems whatsoever. The game ran without a hitch, with no bugs to report and no noticeable slowdown.
I’ll be blunt, Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is not worth the current asking price. You are asked to pay almost full price for an enhanced version of an old game, one that has quite a lot of problems where gameplay is concerned. This pill is made harder to swallow when there are so many rogue-like games on the eShop at the moment that are significantly cheaper and arguably of better quality. That isn’t to say Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is a bad game, but at its current asking price it seems a bit ambitious. That said, if you see the game on sale, I would definitely consider picking it up.
Excellent voice acting
Combat can test your critical thinking
UI is too busy
Not all systems gel
Audio is so-so