Reader Review: Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate (Vita)

SHIREN_BOXMy good friend Leroy Capasso has helped me review some games here at in the past.  He also loves dungeon crawlers, so I figured he’d be best suited to review this one.  The Shiren the Wanderer series was one of the first to start the dungeon crawler craze, and if you like anything “Mystery Dungeon’ related, you’ll definitely want to check out his review her

Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is a roguelike RPG for the PlayStation Vita, developed by Chunsoft and published in North America thanks to Aksys Games. Roguelikes are RPGs stripped down to their very basic gameplay elements, often brutally difficult, that play out almost like a game of chess, where you sometimes have to think several moves ahead to ensure success (or even survival).

Shiren journeys to the titular tower to collect the titular dice to help a young man save his bride-to-be from a horrible illness. It’s a simple premise, but ultimately it’s only there to provide a wrapping for the great gameplay.

The main focus of the game is its dungeons. Dungeons are randomly generated, and the layouts of the dungeons change if you exit and reenter. You always start off at experience level one, and while you can build up your equipment and bring it with you, it’s still hard to brute force your way through. Instead of pure stats and numbers, your progress through this type of game is with knowledge and strategy. You will pick up tons of items in each dungeon and items usually have multiple purposes. For example, a Warp Herb will transport you elsewhere in a dungeon to escape a bad situation if you eat it, but it can also be thrown at an enemy to transport them somewhere else. You are often faced with move by move decisions

While the game can be daunting, it’s extremely well balanced. Lady luck can be cruel in this universe, most failures could have been avoided, and failure is your teacher. You’ll learn through your mistakes and have foresight and experience the next time you come across a similar situation. There’s rarely outright unfair moments (even though it may not seem like it). The game also has a robust tutorial that goes from teaching the basics to showing off more complex situations and how to work around them; the tutorial can be completed in parts, so you can take a few lessons in and come back later.

The game’s SNES-style pixel graphics are extremely crisp and colorful and really pop on the Vita’s screen. While they do mimic that style very well, it’s hard not to compare it to what a lot of other developers are doing with 2D graphics nowadays. The soundtrack is a mixture of Japanese-themed tunes and classical. The story of the game can be completely briskly for a seasoned roguelike player, but that only leads to unlocking several bonus dungeons that lead to nearly infinite replay (and even crazier challenges).


Kid Factor:

Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, and Language.  There is some very mild language, but otherwise nothing to note outside of cartoon violence (enemies poof when defeated). Younger players may struggle with the obtuse, old-school gameplay and the game’s high difficulty if they have not played older RPGs.  –Leroy Capasso

One Response to “Reader Review: Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate (Vita)”

  1. I’m always curious about the Shiren The Wanderer games.

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