Set in the “Touhou Project” universe, Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is the definitive version of the roguelike Japanese RPG classic. Originally released last year on PlayStation consoles, the Reloaded edition comes with all DLC content, plus new characters and gameplay improvements. Furthermore, this updated release is available for Nintendo Switch in addition to the PlayStation 4.
Lather, rinse, and repeat. Always repeat.
For those unfamiliar with the general structure of roguelike games, Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded features randomly generated dungeons. Your level progress resets each time you enter a new dungeon, however your items carry over. The idea is to keep repeating these dungeons while grinding out and improving your inventory as you progress through the game.
The action is turn-based, and much of the skill lies in properly planning out your actions to ensure efficient combat. Every action has a cost. Fatigue (measured in the form of “hunger”) plays as much of a role as strength and skill.
Unfortunately, while the strategy involved can be very satisfying, both the HUD and the item management system can feel a bit cluttered and unmanageable. This bit of disorganization robs the game of some of its joy.
A nice feature of Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is that you get to keep the items you discover even if you die. This proves to be a bit more forgiving in comparison to other roguelike games where all your efforts are lost if death overcomes you.
Battle for the golden sphere
Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded centers around the characters Reimu Hakurei and Rinnosuke Morichika. Reimu and Rinnosuke are spending a leisurely rainy day indoors when a golden sphere in Rinnosuke’s possession begins emitting a strange energy. The power emitted by the sphere turns out to be ominous, and Rinnosuke becomes possessed.
The possessed Rinnosuke uses the cursed sphere’s power to transform his shop into a dungeon-filled tower. He also generates several evil clones of the town’s population to serve him. Reimu must now enter the many dungeons and defeat them to restore peace to the town of Gensokyo.
Talking it out
There is a veritable deluge of conversational dialogue in Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded. It’s not uncommon for many Japanese games to lean heavily on expositional exchanges. Japanese RPG’s even often crossover with another popular genre—the “visual novel”. However, Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded really leans excessively on the chatter, perhaps to a fault.
I don’t mind a game with a lot of dialogue, so long as it supports the story. Unfortunately here much of the back and forth conversation feels dull, cumbersome, and ultimately unimportant. It serves the overall story very little, and reads more like a writing exercise in extended character discussion.
Luckily skipping dialogue is easy—it moves forward at a very rapid pace when pressing the R1 button. This is a great option for those who don’t want to suffer the slow pace brought on by the seemingly endless banter between dungeons. That said, doing so does run the risk of accidentally skipping past important narrative with actual bearing on the story.
Getting the best gear
Since level progress wipes each time you enter a dungeon, you will need to rely on your gear to get further in the game. Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded boasts a deep equipment system with over 500 unique pieces of weapons and armor. Brand new gear supplements that which carries over from the original release.
Equipment gains experience much the same way that your character does. As you defeat enemies, its level will increase, and ultimately even morph into newer and more powerful forms. The main difference however is that while your level will reset, that of your equipment will not.
You can gain equipment by exploring the dungeons themselves, or by creating them using the fusion feature. Since the stats from these weapons and armour will carry over between lives and dungeons, this is the best way to power up your character as you travel deeper. Equipment increases not only your standard stats such as attack and defense, but also occasionally the damage dealt to (or your resistance against) certain specific enemies.
Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded comes with a fair amount of content compared to its original release. For starters it rolls the two DLC story campaigns into the main campaign. Folding these storylines in directly from the start presents an enormous amount of content for new players.
On top of this, another three entirely new story campaigns add even more content. Each new campaign features a different main character. Along with all the original and DLC storylines already offered up, the sheer volume of story-based content is staggering.
New characters are also available to partner up with on your quest. There’s Suwako the “Amphibian God”, Scartlet the “Little Vampire”, and Alice the “Seven-Coloured Puppeteer”. Each of these new additions bring unique abilities that add more choice and variety to your dungeon-crawling adventure.
Finally, a number of gameplay improvements are also a part of Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded. New upgrades to the item creation system bring expanded functionality. A major overhaul of the game’s built-in encyclopedia proves a thorough accounting of its assets. Lastly, a new regional map adds the ability to fast travel between bases.
Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is a pretty standard roguelike dungeon crawler. if you know what to expect going into games like these, you probably won’t find any surprises. Those less familiar with this style of Japanese RPG should brace themselves for some repetitive grinding—just keep in mind that this is exactly the sort of gameplay that fans of the genre actively seek.
With all the storyline content wrapped up in a tidy package, there is absolutely a wealth of gameplay to keep you busy for hours on end. The extremely drawn-out character dialogue goes well beyond the needs of the narrative though. Thankfully it can be briskly skipped at your own discretion.
+ Tons of campaign content and multiple storylines
+ Brand new characters, items, and gameplay features
+ Deep equipment system
– Excessive dialogue with no bearing on the story
– Cluttered HUD and non-intuitive item management menus
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5