Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity (PlayStation 4) Second Opinion Review

By Albert Lichi 28.11.2016

Review for Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity on PlayStation 4

The eighth console generation has proven to be an interesting time for gaming now that the Touhou series has been getting titles localized to the west. Traditionally, Touhou games are bullet-hell shoot'em-up action games, but lately things have been getting a little bit more experimental since Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet, a sort of fighting game/shoot'em-up hybrid; and the latest release, Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is a hack 'n slash RPG. Combining bullet-hell action with action RPG mechanics is certainly a curious mixture of genres but is Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity the curiosity it aims to be?

Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is about a vampire named Remilia who is bored with immortality and decides to do something about the fact that her estate has been wrecked by a giant invisible monster. Remilia's maid Sakuya is the other playable character whose journey is to simply follow a trail to find her mistress. While the two stories are mildly different, the core gameplay between them both is mostly identical. Both girls will visit the same stages and fight the same bosses with only their attacks and equipment differentiating them. Regardless of which character is chosen, expect all the stages to be really long and tedious mazes filled with fairies, giant centipedes and even large frogs. The final product has a strange presence about it—a kind of surreal early 2000s Japanese Dreamcast game vibe—thanks in part to its bright and lush visuals.

The idea behind Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is a pretty good one. Many action RPGs don't usually have compelling combat that goes beyond mindless button-mashing, but since this is a Touhou game it has the distinction of incorporating shoot 'em up mechanics like elaborate bullet patterns, chaining, or missile cancelling. With these kinds of flourishes to mix-up an action RPG there is a lot of potential here for a memorable game, but sadly it is not meant to be. The sad fact behind Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is that it's wasted potential that might be held back by a lack of budget or possibly imagination.

Screenshot for Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity on PlayStation 4

This is a really boring game that can cure insomnia thanks in part to lack of refined playability and extremely stiff animations, compounded with lack of camera control and barely visible enemies. The controls are sorely lacking, with several buttons going completely unused; especially unfortunate since this game desperately needed a dodge function. The right analogue stick is also completely unused, a wasted opportunity, since it could have been used for camera control. At the very least it could have been used to aim the characters, with the buttons being used for attacks like in any other twin-stick shooter. This could have kept the action going without it descending into a chaotic fumble of jumping around the field like a panicking rabbit on Red Bull.

Despite all these serious flaws, Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is kind of a guilty pleasure. The visuals do manage to be fairly beautiful and the characters are pretty cute. This is also a very easy game with most bosses losing roughly half of their life from one super-attack. This is where the refinement that Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity needs becomes so apparent. Maybe the developers just did not have the means to fully realize the potential of a game like this, but at the very least, Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity does manage to deliver enough content for its price. After completing the two stories, a post-game dungeon full of samey rooms opens up. Normally post game content like this is greatly appreciated, but they only serve as a reminder just how half-baked Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is.

Screenshot for Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


The cuteness and novelties of Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity wear off quickly after about 30 minutes, and the shallow, mind-numbing gameplay takes hold. The playability and controls just were not well thought out for a game like this, but anyone who is willing to slog through may still manage to experience an interesting, yet ultimately failed experiment. As far as Touhou games go, Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is a fair looker, but limited animation accentuates the low budget. Hopefully Touhou projects will continue to get westward localization, and just maybe someone will attempt another project like Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity but will learn from its mistakes.


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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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