We didn’t quite know what to expect when it came to reviewing Touhou: New World, not least because it wasn’t Lies of P that we were expecting from our editor. The bag of the fag packet summary for this from Team Shanghai Alice and Ankake Spa is a bullet hell action RPG with added visual novel feel. It’s the latest in the loosely connected Touhou series, though we somehow missed the previous installment Scarlet Curiosity.
There’s a story of sorts bolted on here in which you choose between protagonists Reimu or Marisa. The world of Gensokyo is one where humans and youkai spirits (aka ghosts) live in relative harmony. Only this balance has been thrown out of kilter by initially unknown factors.
The boundary between Gensokyo and the outside world has been breached and it’s down to you to figure out what’s going on. This is all viewed from a top-down view as you see off various enemies. The gameplay pans out in fairly typical ARPG fashion with your having to maintain combos by attacking with . You’ve also got secondary spells mapped to , , and .
Perhaps more vitally, you can heal up with and block with . As is often the case, it’s all a matter of timing. Anyway, it’s all in the reflexes. Us, we tend to button mash and hope for the best. As our son is wont to school us, “you need to watch for their attack patterns.” Useful advice, certainly against the fairly frequent boss fights. Nothing so halting as a soulsborne-type encounter thankfully.
Let us say that our playstyle doesn’t lend itself to massively long combos, especially when we take hits and reset our combos. Also, despite it being in the initial tutorial stages, we somehow missed that holding also makes you dash. Annoyingly, it’s also the button for picking up items. This makes for moments where you end up jumping off ledges due to an item being directly next to the edge. We’re all for multipurpose context sensitive button mapping, but not at the cost of movement being compromised otherwise.
Our son took great delight in cheesing it through levels and evading enemies until we pointed out that he was missing out on experience points and hence being underlevelled in subsequent main story missions. It’s a valid strategy we guess and perhaps the way to get lengthy combos by kiting a whole string of enemies through a level. But we suspect it isn’t really how the devs envisaged the gameplay to pan out.#
The aforementioned levelling up yields access to alternate spells you can remap to the buttons as you see fit, though you can’t go with overpowered spells in all slots. It’s a like for like trade, a bit like your fantasy football team where you can’t start an entire team of Erling Haalands. Talking of fantasy football, we’re staring down the barrel of losing seven out of eight NFL matchups this week having won seven of eight last week. Ugh.
We mentioned the drops. Most of them are trash that you can be rid of as the RNG generally gives you gear that isn’t as good as you’ve already got equipped. After a little while you gain access to a shop that eventually grants you the ability to upgrade your stats as well as reforge what would otherwise be trash items.
The gameplay itself will be fairly familiar to anyone who’s played an ARPG though the added bullet hell aspect is a novel addition. Jumping with and guarding are pretty much essential too. Though there’s the odd bit of platforming thrown into the mix. It’s not that well implemented unfortunately and reminded us of a similarly frustrating section in the very first Crash Bandicoot game. Unlike that, you fall down you don’t lose health. You just have to retry the section again and again. It shouldn’t be something that detracts in this manner, but it is.
The boss fights are fun enough and invariably against a cute anime girl you have to pummel into submission by dodging their attacks. It’s fun enough and the bullet hell aspect is OK. We confess we’ve dialled down the difficulty a little for the purposes of expediency where it comes to this review, but at the cost of slightly less good drops. It’s a fair trade-off mitigated by the forging aspect at least.
In conclusion, Touhou: New World is a fun enough game though not massively engaging. It’s OK though not particularly deep. This is reflected in part by the dev having this priced cheaply on the PSN store at a penny under twenty quid, though discounted further for PS+ subscribers at the time of writing.
+ Shooter aspects blend well with ARPG elements
+ Upgrading your character with your favourite attacks is engaging
- Platforming sections are a weak point
- Multi-function button mapping can be frustrating