After the atrocity that is Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet, I was hesitant to play another game in the series but, thankfully, Genso Wanderer is a far better title that I found enjoyment in. It might not be an outstanding title, but it’s far better than its previous offering on PS4.
Touhou Genso Wanderer follows Shrine Maiden Reimu as she journeys to dispel the curse of the Golden Sphere, an item which seeps evil and has taken over her friend, Rinnosuke. Reimu herself isn’t particularly motivated and wants to kick back and take it easy in life, but she knows she has a duty to fulfil and meets several friends on her journey to bring Rinnosuke back to normal, and to protect the small region of Gensokyo. There’s a lot of dialogue to read and whilst it can be a bit of a slog, particularly as very little is said in its abundance of text, it can still be pretty enjoyable to see the characters banter amongst themselves. If you don’t know much about Touhou, however, you might be a little lost when it comes to characters and terms, and Genso Wanderer doesn’t do a very good job in elaborating.
Genso Wanderer is a dungeon-crawler where areas are randomised each time you enter them, making no two adventures exactly the same. You can take in allied characters to battle with you – and you’ll want to – and the game itself isn’t particularly hard — I found the biggest trouble to be traps that you couldn’t see whilst exploring, as these could do some serious, unexpected damage. Thankfully dungeons aren’t excessively long but it still sucks if you’re defeated and have to start over, although the saving is fairly generous and I didn’t have too much of an issue with it. In regards to enemies, I usually used a turn attacking air so that they’d come closer to me, and eventually they’d be within hitting distance and would fall one after the other — the game helpfully recommends doing this too, although it does make it rather easy! Crafting and enhancing equipment goes a long way, and using items such as ones that can clear your surrounding areas of enemies can be a literal life-saver for Reimu and friends.
Genso Wanderer makes use of clean, chibi-styled art for much of the gameplay with more life-sized-like portraits being used during conversation. It looks pretty great, especially for a low-budget game, and its colour and character designs are delightful. Some enemies look as if they could be members of your team which was sometimes a little jarring, but overall it’s a pleasant looking game on PS4. I didn’t play it on Vita but I imagine it looks lovely on there too. All dialogue is in Japanese with solid performances and some of the music will be familiar to Touhou fans, although I didn’t recognise any as I’m not very familiar with the series.
Touhou Genso Wanderer is a good, fun romp which sometimes talks aimlessly for long periods of time, but it has decent game mechanics, a nice art style and plenty for fans of the series to love, even if it isn’t quite as accessible to newcomers. It’s far, far better than Bullet Ballet and if anything, I can respect how many genres Touhou finds itself tackling. Genso Wanderer isn’t a bad game although it makes for a hard recommendation at full price, but if you’re a die-hard fan then chances are you’ll get your moneys worth.