Published on August 23rd, 2016 | by Elizabeth Henges0
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate Review (Vita)
Shiren the Wanderer has quite the storied history. As part of the long running Mystery Dungeon series, Shiren is one of the subseries that has its own original set of characters, as opposed to using other companies’ properties to draw in players. This particular entry, Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is an enhanced port of the latest DS title, one that was never released in the West. Is this Vita title worth a purchase?
Shiren the Wanderer Vita’s story is on the light side, and mostly inconsequential. In this land, there is the Tower of Fortune, and the gods of this tower use the Dice of Fate to determine everyone’s fate, from the day they are born. However, when a young girl is destined to die from a terminal illness, it’s up to Shiren and friends to climb the tower and attempt to defy fate itself.
It’s a decent plot that gives the player enough reason to move from Point A to Point B, but that’s about it. The real reason to play this Vita game is for the roguelike gameplay, and it excels here. Shiren the Wanderer has all the typical fixings one would expect from the genre: Tough as nails dungeons, harsh penalties for death, items that you don’t know if they’ll heal you or kill you until you use them, and so on. While this might seem unfriendly to new players, an in-depth optional tutorial goes over all the mechanics and rules. So many other titles in the genre assume the player knows all of these rules, so it’s nice that they allow newbies to learn why they are dying so often.
Death is an inevitability in this title, because Shiren the Wanderer Vita does not hold back. Anything from bad preparation to poor luck can end a dungeon run prematurely, and death comes with the hefty penalty of losing all your items. If you managed to find an awesome weapon (or brought one in) and end up being overwhelmed in a room filled with monsters? Kiss that weapon goodbye, unless you get lucky on the off-chance that someone rescues you online. Additionally, no matter if you leave the dungeon, Shiren and your allies’ levels will be reset to 1, making level grinding out of the question.
The way to progress, then, is simply hoarding the good items and weapons you come across. In the town (amongst chatty NPCs) is a storage house to store items and gold. With limited inventory and storage room, though, it’s important to learn what’s good and what can be sold or turned into some kind of new item. While advancing in the game seems to be up in the air a lot due to pure luck (it takes luck to get great items and to make sure no cataclysmic event ruins your run), it still manages to provide a satisfying gameplay loop. It sometimes can get tedious trying to run the same dungeon multiple times, but the rewarding feeling of finally toppling a boss is fantastic.
Although it was originally a DS game, Shiren the Wanderer on the Vita looks really good. The pixels really pop on the Vita’s OLED screen, and the larger screen helps you field of vision too, which makes planning ahead just a little easier. The only tick against the graphics is probably the lack of scenery changes throughout the dungeons; then again, as a roguelike, players would have to see the same tilesets and enemies over and over again regardless.
Additionally, the soundtrack is also pretty good. It’s very clearly inspired by the Orient, much like the setting of the game itself. Even some of the sound effects are really catchy as I find myself humming the level up jingle from time to time.
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate may have an almost prohibitively long name, but it is a joy to play on the Vita. It’s a challenging roguelike that manages to be welcoming to newer players as well. If you even have an interest in the genre, give it a try–just don’t expect to get through the adventure unscathed.
Review code provided by Aksys Games.
Summary: Port or no, Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is a fantastic roguelike that is welcoming to new players while providing the challenge a veteran fan craves for.