Touhou: New World Review – Breaking Barriers

Touhou: New World Review

Self-described as a bullet hell action-RPG adventure, Touhou: New World is not as new as it might sound. Rather, the Touhou series has had a long history as a one-man independent game series dating back to 1997. With that going for it, the series has developed a dedicated fanbase as it has grown from its Japanese-only roots to its current status as a more niche, but readily available title. The series is also known for its fan-made derivative works encouraged by the series creator. This is where Touhou: New World comes into play as a Touhou Project fan-made game.

Touhou: New World features the land of Gensokyo, a place with magic entities that live hidden away from the real world thanks to a mystical barrier. The game provides two scenarios, one in which you play as shrine maiden Reimu Hakurei and one in which you play as magician Marisa Kirisame. When transported outside of their land and into the outside world, the player meets Sumireko, a human girl interested in Gensokyo. From there, the story unravels behind the disruption of the barrier and more.

As a narrative, Touhou: New World does a decent job of setting up the background and history of the series. Where it falls a bit short is at times bringing up references that rely too much on player knowledge rather than passing references to existing fans. This breaks the immersion a bit, as it causes the player to try to recollect a moment that they never experienced. Overall, the story was interesting enough and varied between the two scenarios to drive the game forward.

Heaven or Hell?

In terms of gameplay, Touhou: New World is not a traditional bullet hell game you might be familiar with. Rather, the RPG and adventure elements help to set it apart. The game does follow a pretty similar mission structure throughout. It requires players to navigate certain levels, at times with platforming, defeating enemies and opening pathways. Ultimately, confronting a boss before pushes the story forward.

The game’s mechanics also vary. The combat gameplay is pretty fun, with a variety of weapons, abilities, and enemies that keep it refreshing. The combat does suffer a bit in the beginning, where the game is a bit too easy, though additional difficulty levels and a difficulty curve later on help to alleviate it. Lastly, the platforming elements of the game were likely the most frustrating, with certain elements being harder to gauge due to camera angles.

Much like the rest of the game, the visuals of Touhou: New World vary depending on the area. Some areas look great relative to the rest of the game, but some areas contain elements that don’t show the same level of attention to detail. For example, an area with waterfalls contained elements that were “copied and pasted”, resulting in water elements clipping through over the edge of cliffs. That said, the visuals related to combat including visual cues, attacks, and enemies were well done.

Touhou: New World was indeed a new experience of the franchise for me. Having played games in all the genres it touches on, this game provided an interesting new experience for me. The game started a bit slow due to its low difficulty. It eventually started to catch on and provide a more enjoyable challenge. Despite this, the overall inconsistency with the game in various aspects does detract from the overall experience at times. If the game interests you in the slightest, I would recommend giving Touhou: New World a try.

** Review code provided by the publisher **

The Good

  • Solid combat
  • Interesting story

The Bad

  • Inconsistent overall
  • Floaty platforming