Ah, Touhou. Like it or not, this series does have a fanbase worth talking about.
Sometimes for the right reasons, as seen with today’s game, Adventures Of Scarlet Curiosity.
When I first saw this game, the style and set-up reminded me of a Touhou fangame I’d played called Enchanting Swordplay Reverie. So it was much to my unsurprise that the same circle, Ankake Spa, created both.
As a brief rundown of Enchanting Swordplay Reverie since it is quite literally not long enough to hold it’s own post: The game revolves around Youmu Kompaku running through six stages of Gensokyo wilderness to track down and defeat Reimu Hakurei so that her mistress Yuyuko Saigyouji will resume her sword training. That’s about it.
Plot-wise, Scarlet Curiosity isn’t much more in-depth. It focuses more on Remila Scarlet and her search to kill some time in her nigh-immortal life. After checking out rumors of a monster youkai in the general vincinity, Remilia (or Sakuya Izayoi, depending on who you selected to start the game with) returns to find the Scarlet Devil Mansion in a state of decimation. What follows afterward is four-five hour runaround that is part revenge, part shenanigans and everything you’d expect revolving around a plot based in Gensokyo.
Well, if you’re familiar with this series, anyway…
There’s a few key differences/improvements this game has over it’s predecessor though.
You can now level up: What’s a RPG without a leveling system? Not very exciting. While Enchanting Swordplay Reverie was designed around the fact that you never leveled up (or got stronger in general, really.), Scarlet Curiosity gives you ability to level up, get more health and power, and more importantly, new skills.
Oh yeah, skills are a thing now: Remilia and Sakuya gain new skills as they level up. While a bunch of them are typically straight upgrades to previous ones, some of them also work differently to give your combo/skill spam a little different flavor.
Sis, do you even equip?: There’s now loot to be found in the form of a weapon, armor piece and accessory. Typically, weapons are full attack power, armor gives you more HP, and accessories affect your max SP and SP regeneration. The main detractor for me on this is that stats/sub-stats are randomized, so you’re not guaranteed to get something completely better. It also makes getting that 50% Critical trophy a slight pain…
All of this considered though, Scarlet Curiosity isn’t hard in the slightest. Death means nothing but some lost coinage, bosses can be pseudo-combo-locked pretty easily once you learn how, and there’s something odd about what skills you actually learn in this game. (Sakuya doesn’t ever learn a Time Sign spell for instance, instead just getting a straight upgrade to her first spell. Wasted potential, really.) This is one of those “I see something there. I just need a little more” moments that unfortunately leaves me hanging quite dry.
Though the lampshading at Enchanting Swordplay Reverie near the end amused me personally, as someone who played that.
Graphically speaking, the game is pretty pleasant to look at. Dead-eyed model stares aside, there’s no weird shadowing effects or pop-up to distract you from plowing through legions of fairies. There’s no slowdown or frame drops either, which is a good quality considering there can be quite a few effects on screen at once. I can’t help but feel there’s something off about the dialogue portraits though, but that’s a minor nitpick at best.
The music is easily the strongest part of this game. It features some quite fantastic renditions from a variety of the official games, including The Gensokyo The Gods Loved, Septette For The Dead Princess, Heartfelt Fancy and The Centennial Festival For Magical Girls. I omitted boss themes as to not completely give them away, but by this point, if you try to look up the OST, you’d figure it out anyway. But if nothing else, I can recommend this soundtrack to even non-Touhou fans.
Let’s cut to the chase though. This game is $20 on the PSN. For a simple, four/five hour action RPG (double this if you really want to see the dialogue differences between Remilia and Sakuya’s playthroughs.), it’s an incredibly hard sell to non-Touhou fans, soundtrack or not. Enchanting Swordplay Reverie provides a similar experience, for free, in half the time. I’d recommend looking into that if you’re not a Touhou fan, or are a newer fan and are looking for a quick distraction between longer, more involved games.
For more veteran Touhou fans, this game makes a nice break for after losing your hundredth attempt at clearing an Extra Stage.
… Well, that was refreshing. I guess I better go find something longer to write about next ti- Hey, is that Demon’s Gaze II coming out next week…?
Let the partying commence.