One of the core aspects of RPGs is to have an interesting and engaging story, coupled with engaging combat. When one of these aspects is missing, these games feel incomplete and lackluster. Such is the case for Touhou Genso Wanderer, the first ever Touhou dungeon RPG. Traditionally the Touhou series has been famous for mastering the bullet hell genre and its sound design, but recently they have been branching out into other genres. Touhou Genso Wanderer is a mystery-dungeon-like RPG that takes a more story focused approach to the Touhou world. Unfortunately, this is by far Touhou’s biggest shortcoming, and this game accentuates that more than any other.
As stated before, Touhou Genso Wanderer is a dungeon RPG similar to the Pokemon mystery dungeon games. The game should instantly feel familiar to those with experience with the genre, but will of course notice quite a few changes. Gameplay is centered around making your way through the dungeon with your party alive as you scavenge for loot, kill enemies, and avoid traps. Everything in the game is procedurally generated, so it can be difficult to predict what’s going to happen, therefore requiring players to adapt on the fly.
Apart from your basic attack, the player can use four different spells with varying sizes and damage outputs. These spells are reminiscent of the powers used in the bullet hell Touhou’s and require the P resource to use. They are also generally useful when multiple enemies are nearby, or there are long-range foes about to engage you. There are also tonnes of items that heal and feed the players, as well as throwable cards and spells that can do anything from switch places with the enemy, to making them fall asleep. Adding in all the weapons and armour, there’s quite a lot there for players to experiment with. While there are a lot of interesting mechanics, ultimately the combat feels easy and unsatisfying at the beginning, and by the time you get to the later areas of the game you’re already so powerful that stomping through the dungeons becomes a chore.
Unfortunately that isn’t the worst part of the game. Touhou Genso Wanderer has one of the least interesting RPG stories and characters I have ever seen. The overall plot is that a shrine maiden broke her roomates glowing orb, which then has manifested some sort of spirit inside the room mate. A large tower appears and she must defeat the evil Yokai whilst trying to figure out what’s going on. While that’s the main premise, the vast majority of dialogue and cut scenes aren’t about this, but contain anecdotes and wacky situations between the main character and her companions.
The dialogue is absolutely awful.
Whoever wrote or translated the game has no idea how coherent sentences are formed and cannot create a normal conversation between characters. It honestly feels like an injustice to call them characters, as they are more like plastic dolls repeating the same catchphrases and emotions over and over again. It’s as if all the stereotypes of anime have forced themselves into this game to create an excruciatingly awful story.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the dialogue and cut scenes weren’t the main focus of the game. Unfortunately they are, as every single area you go into has a cut scene that’s at least 5 minutes long. In the first village I entered, every single shop had around a 10 minute long cut scene talking about how one of the characters is suspicious of the shop owner and that they want to burn the shop down. This type of dialogue isn’t clever, it’s tedious and downright insulting.
It’s sad to see an RPG where the story is bad, let alone an absolute atrocity. While Touhou Genso Wanderer has some very interesting gameplay mechanics, the rest of the game drags it so far through the mud that I can’t even recommend it to the most hardcore of Touhou fans. I think the writing team of this game honestly need to go back to school, because my 14 year old sister can write better stories than these hacks.