The Touhou series of games (known as the Touhou Project by Team Shanghai Alice) has been popular in Japan for years. Luckily Touhou Double Focus (and Touhou Genso Wanderer) is finally coming stateside so we can get a piece of the action too. Thanks to NIS America, gamers can finally enjoy Touhou Double Focus–and experience the action based gameplay that the Touhou Project is so well known for.
In Touhou Double Focus, you are put in the role of Aya Shameimaru and Momiji Inubashiri. Aya and Momiji are sucked into a magical book, along with many of the residents of Gensokyo. They must figure out a way to get themselves and the city of Gensokyo’s residents back home. You can play as both Aya and Momiji and are able to switch back and forth between them at will. Aya excels in long range combat and can float and dash for short distances. Momiji on the other hand is more suited for short range combat and can run up walls or sprint for long distances.
As you progress, you can acquire skills that are usable by both Aya and Momiji. You’ll also acquire character specific skills that enhance their capabilities in unique ways. Some skills are reusable and these include both active and passive skills. Some of these will give you unique battle capabilities, such as breaking rock walls, or finding secret areas. Other skill books are temporary and are used up after being used once. These skill books provide abilities such as healing or creating fast travel points to and from the base area.
Touhou Double Focus plays out like a standard Metroidvania game; you travel through the castle and other environments by following the map. As you progress you will fight difficult bosses and gain new abilities that will help you reach new areas and environments. Along the way, you will run into residents of Gensokyo, who will ask you to help them in various ways. By helping them with their problems, you can get new items or open new pathways that you couldn’t reach before.
Truthfully, there are a lot of secrets to find and even more things to explore in Touhou Double Focus. Boss fights play out in a bullet hell style, (which the Touhou series is known for) but I found myself more and more frustrated with them as I played. If you like Bullet Hell games, then Touhou Double Focus should be right up your alley. I also found that on the Playstation 4, the controls for Touhou Double Focus were somewhat clunky, as I would catch myself using Aya’s float ability without really intending to; even just performing evasive maneuvers and defending against attacks became an exercise in precision and frustration for me.
With that being said, Touhou Double Focus plays well on both the Playstation 4 and the Playstation Vita. With the Cross-Play function, you can save your game on the Playstation 4, and take it on the road with your Vita system. I love the concept of being able to enjoy a game anywhere. Especially without the game being reduced or changed in any way while playing on the Vita.
Touhou Double Focus’ storyline is mostly a jumping off point for the gameplay. It isn’t great nor does it make much sense, but it gets you going and sets you on your path. The map tells you everything you could want to know, including whether you have missed treasure in an area or not. Overall, there is a lot to enjoy in Touhou Double Focus, even with its share of issues.
I enjoyed Touhou Double Focus, but it isn’t something I would want to play for a long span of time. For fans of bullet hell games, that might be a little different. I love Metroidvania titles, and this one fits the bill well; but with frustrating boss fights and weird Playstation 4 controls, it didn’t hit all the right notes for me.
A Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita product code for Touhou Double Focus was provided by NIS America for the purpose of this review.