Touhou is one of the most prolific franchises you may have never heard of, rivaling the likes of Mario and Sonic for the number of titles encompassed under the Touhou umbrella. But unlike the boys in blue and red, Touhou welcomes fanmade creations, treating them as if they were official entries in the long line of titles.
If you are just now stumbling upon Touhou – as I can assure you I am – it’s pretty daunting. There are over 19 official games, with many having Kingdom Hearts-like additions like 7.5 and 12.8. There are also several official printed works that may or may not be important to the overall storyline. And none of that is counting the fan-made content.
So, yeah, getting into Touhou is like getting into One Piece – it requires a lot of time. This review will look at Touhou: New World through a separate lens from the rest of the franchise. It is a fan-made game, but it still centers on the two fan-favorite characters from the franchise: Reimu and Marissa.
Touhou: New World Key Details
- Developer- Ankake Supa
- Platforms – Nintendo Switch, PC
- Release Date – July 12, 2023
- Price- $24.99/€24.99
Touhou: New World had me confused yet excited
At the start of Touhou: New World, players are treated to an opening dialogue sequence to explain the lore of the land. This is the starting point for where players are flooded with the info they likely would have obtained from other games.
Players will explore Gensokyo, a safe haven for yokai spirits that the outside world has long forsaken. You get the choice between Reimu or Marissa – we opted for the former. We can’t speak to how Marissa plays, but it’s implied they have different move sets and will learn different abilities as the player progresses through each storyline.
Things pick up pretty quickly as the player brings a human back to Gensokyo, which causes all sorts of trouble, inherently thrusting the universe into the path of danger. From there, the player will traverse several levels that only serve as appetizers before the Boss Battle main course.
These boss battles are brilliant and very fun, but the game also just assumes you know who you’re fighting. A lot of the bosses are favorite characters from the franchise, and I have to be honest; I had to look up who they were quite frequently. This didn’t take away from the game’s fun factor; it just felt like having a friend walk you up to a group of people, assuming you know who they all are.
A great transition from bullet hell to hack-n-slash
For those unaware, the original Touhou games are 2D bullet hells where you control the same characters from New World. However, Touhou: New World takes familiar elements from those games and jams them into a 3D hack-and-slash. And it does so really well.
You can explore these 3D environments while battling yokai and overcoming little platforming sections. The platforming is a bit lackluster at times, but I loved those sections nonetheless.
The enemies are also really well-designed. They feel familiar, like cousins of enemies from Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, but are also strikingly original. And they all have unique movesets that keep players on their toes. I never felt like I was running into two different enemy types that fought the exact same.
Especially when it comes to boss battles, while I had no idea who I was fighting, these challenging fights were phenomenal. Having to learn the attack patterns, how to dodge certain attacks, when I could Perfect Guard and punish those openings – that feeling is akin to playing Hades or Furi.
I will say I was a bit skeptical at first. The game does lack the polish that top-tier indie titles have. Moving around felt like scooting, and my fingers couldn’t figure out which buttons to press. I often hit the heavy attack button or some special move, thinking I was hitting my regular attack.
But after an hour or so, I fell into the rhythm of Touhou: New World, cutting down foes with ease. But this led to other complaints, like lacking a dodge button. You can either jump away from bullets or guard against melee attacks, but you can’t dodge roll, which feels like a void in the grand scheme of the game.
While I did enjoy my time in Gensokyo, it started to feel like a slog later on. The enemies in between bosses aren’t hard to overcome. With the late-game abilities, most enemies are fodder that die in a couple of hits. And thanks to the unlimited health regen button, you shouldn’t ever find yourself in imminent danger before a boss.
That said, you will have to trod off the beaten path to get to the good stuff. In addition to story missions, players can partake in side quests, and these reward you with goodies you will need if you hope to make it to the end.
Touhou: New World is fun at its core. If you ignore the overdone “universal devastation” storyline and are okay with sifting through waves of trash mobs, there are some challenging bits that rival boss fights from some of the highest-praised indie titles. These fights are fun and chaotic and often make me wish this game was just a boss rush.
Even still, I really dig some of the small enemy designs – tress with boxing gloves, little ghosts wearing hats – and I wouldn’t want to have missed them. Just, maybe not so many next time.
All in all, Touhou: New World feels like a game that would have been hailed as a cult classic on the PS2. It’s a solid game for its price point, and it might even net the Touhou franchise a few new superfans.
|+ A good amount of content for a reasonable price
|+ The combat is fun and engaging, especially in boss fights
|+ The levels and monsters are well designed
|– Story leaves a lot to be desired
|– An overall lack of polish
|– Encounters assume you’re a Touhou fan, which can be confusing