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Touhou: New World Review - Discovering Gensokyo Like Never Before

EDITORS' RATING : 7 / 10
Pros
  • A new perspective and gameplay mechanics for the Touhou Project universe
  • Fun level designs and engaging boss battles
  • A solid entry point for newcomers
Cons
  • Limited enemy varieties
  • Occasional technical hiccups on Nintendo Switch
  • May be too basic for traditional action RPG fans

A Switch review code was provided to Zaaz for this review. "Touhou: New World" will launch on July 13, 2023, for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

Established as one of the most popular and enduring franchises in the "doujin" or indie scene, the "Touhou Project" is a series of bullet hell shooter games known for their unique blend of engaging gameplay, challenging mechanics, captivating lore, and charming character design.

Originating from Japan, the "Touhou Project" was single-handedly created by Team Shanghai Alice, encompassing everything from game development to music composition. The franchise's signature bullet hell style is characterized by vertically scrolling gameplay, as well as screen-filling, intricate patterns of projectiles that players must skillfully dodge, creating a visually stunning and adrenaline-pumping experience. Adding to the series' appeal is its rich lore, centered around Gensokyo, a sealed world where humans coexist with spirits known as Youkai.

Now, the legacy of this bullet hell titan continues with "Touhou: New World." This action RPG expands on the series' foundational elements, giving both veterans and newcomers the chance to (literally) hit the ground running into the supernatural realm of Gensokyo. This is where you, as the shrine maiden Reimu, are not just a spectator, but an active participant in a story that seamlessly merges the mortal and spiritual worlds. "Touhou: New World" offers a fresh onslaught of bullet hell action, intertwined with RPG elements that deliver a uniquely captivating gaming experience.

Stepping into Gensokyo's Supernatural World

As you venture into "Touhou: New World," you're returning to the mystic realm of Gensokyo, a universe teetering between the mortal and supernatural worlds. If you've played previous "Touhou" titles, you'll find the expansive lore and challenging bullet hell gameplay to be both familiar and refreshing. You're in for a nostalgic journey that takes you back to the world you've loved and missed. As a new player, you're not left behind; the game gently ushers you into Gensokyo's lore and intricate gameplay.

This latest entry stands proudly as a part of the Touhou legacy, weaving together a fresh story that not only stays true to the spirit of the Touhou Project but also adds new dimensions to the narrative.

As you navigate through this supernatural realm, you'll undertake a variety of side quests, from finding lost souls to engaging in mock battles. These quests not only enrich your understanding of Gensokyo's lore but also reward you with valuable resources that you can use to enhance your abilities.

A new kind of action

"Touhou: New World" sets itself apart with its unique 45-degree viewing angle in which you actively explore different areas of the world. This fresh take on bullet hell navigation and combat is a unique perspective for the series that provides depth to the environment and adds layers to your strategic decisions. Despite the level designs being simple — and the enemy mob varieties being just as basic — you'll find that they are far from dull. The exciting and fast-paced action unfolds against the backdrop of these vibrant stages, testing your ability to attack enemies while dodging their projectiles — not the mention the especially enjoyable platforming moments.

Combat in "Touhou: New World" delivers everything you might expect from a traditional action RPG, which in itself is a departure from the typical "Touhou" games. While you can resort to beat-em-up, button-mashing strategies and effective parrying to dispatch foes, the delightful boss battles require a bit more tactical decision-making and focus. You'll have to navigate intricate bullet patterns, make the most of your special abilities, and perfectly time your guards to triumph over these fearsome adversaries, all while keeping a close eye on your health bar to ensure success.

Customization also plays a large role in "Touhou: New World". You can shape the protagonists, Reimu and Marisa, to suit your playstyle, whether that involves blasting enemies with long-range projectiles or engaging in close-quarters combat with martial arts-based melee attacks. Your weapons, armor, and accessories offer randomized stats, allowing for fun mix-and-match combinations that aid you in combat according to your preferred style of play.

A great entry point into the Touhou Project universe

When it comes to platform choice, Nintendo Switch comes as the recommended way to play "Touhou: New World." One challenge that we encountered on the PC build is a game-impacting lag in controls. In a bullet hell game where precision is everything, even a slight delay can be detrimental. While dodging a bullet could be a moment of triumph, the control delay on PC might just turn that dodge into a punishing hit — it certainly did for us.

However, playing "Touhou: New World" on Nintendo Switch is smooth sailing. There is the occasional hiccup in visual clipping, but nothing that impacts the overall game flow or experience. The bullet hell factor also feels a bit more natural on the console, allowing players to focus more on their reactions and less on the controls.

All in all, "Touhou: New World" is a delightful romp through the captivating realm of Gensokyo that offers both old and new players an opportunity to explore its fantastical universe. If you're coming into the game with no previous "Touhou" experience, you will be welcomed in with open arms, never feeling like you are left behind. For an action RPG title, "Touhou: New World" is, in a word, simple. But that's not a bad thing, especially given the departure of typical games in the series. "Touhou: New World" successfully weaves together elements of old-school bullet hell and RPG mechanics, creating a unique and compelling gaming experience for players of any skill level.

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