Fairies, Oni, Tengu, and Shrine Maidens! Oh My!
Ok. I need to level with you all. I have never played a Touhou game. You can take my Gamer card now. The most I knew about them is that a majority of the games were shooters, bullet hell ones, to be more precise. Their character rosters being comprised of cute girls that were Japanese monsters, priestesses, vampires, witches and, maids. I have played other games like it and, to be completely honest, it is not my genre. Then I was handed this game to review. Oh dear.
Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity for Steam is a port of the same game that graced the PS4 September 20, 2016 (Check out our review for that version here). The game has received a couple shiny upgrades for its new platform in the form of 4k support and an all new Bullet Hell Mode. Bullet Hell Mode changes the enemy shot pattern so that it is more reminiscent of the hectic dodging and attacking when you can that goes back to the series’ shooter-based roots. If you feel like you need more of a challenge than the base game provides then, this mode is for you.
Twirling, spinning, bullets of HELP!
The story hasn’t changed from its earlier PS4 version. We still follow the vampire Remilia Scarlet and her maid, Sakuya Izayoi on their investigation of a “mysterious monster” mentioned in the newspapers to relieve Remilia’s boredom as the land of Gensokyo has been quite dull as of late. She laments that there are no Youkai (a catch-all Japanese term for monsters and ghosts) worth her time or effort. Remilia and Sakuya set off to find out if this monster is strong enough to provide her with a welcome distraction. Of course, in the event that the monster is found to be less than the tales in the newspapers say, her faithful maid will be there to take care of her light work.
Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity gives you the option of playing either Remilia or Sakuya. Each character has a variety of skills they learn to help mow through the relentless waves of fairies, flora, fauna, spell books, skull chariots, and even animated suits of armor you fight throughout the game. They both play similarly, each of them having slight differences from one another. Remilia has a ground smash attack when you jump and then press normal attack that Sakuya doesn’t seem to have. She also seems to glide farther after jumping than Sakuya does. Each of the two characters also have some different dialogue with the other characters as you encounter them throughout the game.
Dastardly Gate of Demon Bashing!
This entry in the Touhou game series is more of an action adventure role-playing type with bullet hell elements, much to my delight. I felt it played a lot like an Ys game. Even the health bar, magic gauge, and special meter set up looked similar to the one in Oath in Felgana. The stages in the game look amazing. The water effects, texture work, CG shadows, and depth of field effects were all on point. This is the Steam version, so you have the option to adjust the graphics settings as you please. I played this game with most of the graphics options at max settings on my old tower with its five-year-old graphics card and did not really encounter any major framerate drops until there were multiple lighting and blur effects on screen at once, Rinnosuke’s item shop is one such example. One of the things I most enjoyed in this game is the soundtrack. Like other Touhou games, the music in Scarlet Curiosity is lovely. The melodies are soothing, enjoyable and, it definitely fits each and every stage. There wasn’t one stage or boss theme that I didn’t like. I actually caught myself humming along with some of the tracks as I was hacking and slashing through enemies! (Don’t judge me.)
Beautiful night for hunting…Fairies?
With all the great things this game has to offer there were a few points I had some issues with. One of these was the enemy variety. A lot of the grunt enemies you fight are the same enemy but are different colors, have a weapon, or have some kind of miasma surrounding them. These enemies are harder than their base types but, I would have like to see a little more variance in the enemy types. With the wolves, I had a hard time even discerning that they weren’t the same ones I had been fighting since the beginning of the game. Another thing that lessened my enjoyment of the game was that some of the levels seemed to drag on and on for an unnecessary amount of time. The levels towards the end of the game are incredibly long compared to the others. I found myself wishing they were over and it felt very mundane slashing through the same enemies screen after screen. While this is more of a nitpick than anything else, the equipment menu is one last issue I had with Scarlet Curiosity. I don’t know why I would have to open the menu, select the item I want to change and, then have to click another menu option to see my available equipment for that slot. I feel it really didn’t need that extra step and can’t think of another game I have played that has this sort of menu setup. You get used to it but it really does feel unnecessary.
Overall, I really did enjoy this title. From its detailed, colorful graphics, its wonderful music, and challenging boss battles it was quite fun. The difficulty of this title felt just right and all the deaths I experienced were quite fair. Touhou fans and RPG fans alike will surely have a good romp through this game. If you missed out on this one for PS4 or, just prefer to game on Steam be sure to keep an eye out for this title.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: STEAM (reviewed),PS4; Publisher: XSEED; Developer: Ankake Spa; Players: 1; Released: July 11, 2018(STEAM),September 20, 2016(PS4); ESRB: T for Teen; MSRP: $14.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam review copy of Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.