Ankake Spa is back with another entry in the world of Touhou. Their previous fan-made project, Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity, was released in 2018 with positive reviews for its action, endearing characters, and bullet-hell game mode. After going silent for a few years, they’ve returned with Touhou: New World. It emerges as a wonderfully compact and adorable adventure containing memorable characters and thrilling boss fights.
To kick things off, Touhou: New World offers two storylines to choose from featuring two vastly different personalities. Reimu Hakurei is a local shrine maiden with the tendency to fight first and talk later, while Marisa Kirisame is a dedicated and level-headed sorceress who focuses on magic and firepower. I’ll touch on their fighting styles later on, but upon choosing Reimu or Marisa you’re thrust into a brief combat tutorial before embarking on a youkai-filled journey.
The narrative of Reimu’s and Marisa’s stories surprised me with the different pacing, direction, and formula. While both begin and end similarly, everything in between is separate so that you feel two different experiences. You’ll explore an overworld that offers main quests with side quests unlocking periodically throughout. The missions, whether main or side, are stage-based where you’ll navigate the level and fight a variety of youkai before encountering a final boss.
Touhou: New World’s combat is fluid and simplistic. It blends action RPG with bullet hell components that allow you to block, jump, and parry melee and ranged magical attacks. Each stage is flooded with youkai that are easy enough to take down on their own but can overwhelm you in a group. The highlight of each stage is the finale as every boss encounter is incredibly fun and requires constant movement giving players something to look forward to in every stage.
Reimu and Marisa both wield their own set of three offensive skills and one ‘ultimate’ skill that replenishes after a cooldown period. I enjoyed the diversity of styles each character possessed in their respective skill. Reimu’s skills prioritized close-range attacks, and Marisa’s kit favored spells cast at a distance. My main criticism is the ‘ultimate’ skills you can swap between felt too similar. Choosing between a large area of effect attack or a condensed attack intended for one target would’ve played more into crafting a character’s kit.
Speaking of building a character’s kit, littered throughout the areas of each stage are hidden items obtained from defeated enemies and destroyable boxes. These weapons, armor, and accessories lower and raise specific stats such as critical rate, critical damage, skill cooldown rate, and attack damage which offer players a way to build around their preferred playstyle. However, there isn’t a clear way to distinguish which loot is of higher value as many of the items share the same name and have no reference in rarity, so you’re left with only the green-colored stat raises and the red-colored stat drops to determine which weapon or armor piece is better.
As you advance through the main story, an item shop unlocks featuring a few ways to further enhance your character’s power with a randomized item machine, a power amplifier, and a blacksmith. Unfortunately, the item machine and blacksmith are irrelevant as loot found in missions consistently has better stat options, and the blacksmith offers minimal and randomized stat changes to weapons. The section of the store I kept returning to, however, was the power amplifier. Not only do Touhou’s side missions expand on character interactions and lore, but reward ‘Strength Stones’ that can be turned in at the amplifier to permanently increase the player’s power in a range of areas.
The two main reasons Touhou: New World kept me engaged are the colorful visuals and sensational soundtrack. Each character comes with a detailed and charismatic portrait that changes to show different expressions. All of the mission stages feature vibrant backgrounds and make replaying missions never feel dull. Bringing everything together is the soundtrack that mixes traditional Japanese sounds with percussion-heavy rock. It is a highlight I have to praise and touch on.
Overall, Touhou: New World works with its simplicity. Nothing in the game is complex or difficult, but it’s a short and sweet adventure featuring a likable cast of characters. The combat system is fun and fluid, even though it’s only a few button presses. The sights and sounds are wonderfully done and deserve all the attention. Aside from a few minor problems, this adventure is worth picking up.
Noah is the resident weeb who spends most of his time gaming and watching anime. His goal is to expand his skills while meeting new people. You have probably seen him feeding the other team kills in Overwatch Comp or speculating Star Wars and One Piece. Follow him on twitter @RigsbyNoah.
Touhou: New World
Touhou: New World offers a light-hearted RPG adventure set in a colorful location. Fluid combat backed by a stellar soundtrack makes this a great weekend binge.