Reeva, god of Fortune, throws the Dice of Fate. Illness or health, happiness or misery, long life or an untimely death; all is determined by the ground shaking bounce, spin, and roll of the cosmic dice. Many have tried to change their fate but failed. Now it’s up to you to confront the deity and change fortune for the better.
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate
Developed by Chunsoft / Published by XSEED Games
Available on the PS Vita.
*Review code provided by XSEED Games
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is a rouge-like, role-playing game developed by Chunsoft in which you take the role of Shiren, a wandering, compassionate warrior who is determined to confront Reeva – the God of Fortune – in order to change the fate of the people for the better. You are accompanied by Koppa, the story-telling ferret and the narrator of the story.
The game begins with an intro about Reeva, the God of Fortune who decides the fates of mortals from his dwelling place high in the Tower of Fortune. The cutscene emphasizes the injustice of having the fate of your life determined the moment you are born, and the hopelessness in which people lead their lives feeling that nothing they do can make it any better.
From the very start, Shiren The Wanderer tugs at nostalgia with its old-school graphics, reminding you of the great role-playing games of the past. The graphics might not be something that many people find appealing, but the art style and the music of the game fits perfectly with the epic story and style of gameplay. This game is a prime example of how a game can combine proven formulas that resonate with players in a way that is relevant in this day and age.
If you are not familiar with it the series (this is the fifth game), I strongly recommend going through the tutorials found in one of the houses in the village as they give you hands-on experience with the many elements of the game and provide knowledge that will make the difference between life or death. Among many things, the game explains how to use the different items like wands (you can hurl magic effects on enemies), scrolls (reading them casts an effect on all the enemies in a room), and herbs (can do anything from heal or revive you when you fall). There is also your hunger level, which you can check by pressing the menu button or see it on the lower right corner. As you are adventuring, Shiren gets hungry. If he gets too hungry he stops regenerating health as times goes by and begins to lose health. Eating food and herbs keeps hunger under control.
Like most role-playing games, there are shops where you can buy gear and items, mini-games that will test your wits and resolve for the chance at prizes, and challenging dungeons that will reward your resourcefulness or punish you in a blink of an eye if you make a mistake. At first, enemies seem easy, and the game’s leveling system seems to be rigged to make you level up lighting-fast. That is, until you delve deep into the dungeons within the Tower of Fortune.
At the feet of the tower, you find three entrances. One leads to the Fate of the Past, another to the Fate of the Present, and the last to the Fate of the Future. Each tower has different levels of difficulty, the past being the easiest. As soon as you enter one of these towers, you realize that your gear and your items are your lifeblood. Yes, you are stronger as you level up, but hunger can defeat even the hardiest of warriors.
Dungeons are nasty places, and this game gives you a sense that you are truly on your own in them. Luckily, you can find vendors living in the dungeons (weird, right?) that can help you buy better gear and replenish some items, but for the most part you will be scanning through your inventory to see what item you can use to get you out of the tightest spots. The procedurally generated maps make it so that you never really know what items you are going to loot or if you are going to get any at all. All this is augmented by the fact that, if you die without an item that can revive you, the adventure ends. You lose all your items and are carried back to the village on the backs of sky-blue, bouncing enemies whose cute little eyes seem to mock you as they throw you to the ground as a beaten up level one character. This is what makes the game a truly rogue-like experience.
Even though Shiren The Wanderer is punishing, it always leaves you with a longing for going back and trying again, knowing that each time you venture out, you’ll learn more and are better prepared for the challenges ahead. There are also banks where you can store your best items, and the mini-games and challenge dungeons provide a way to level up and gain equipment before heading out again, but there is nothing that makes you grind your teeth with anxiety more than having great gear you want to store, but not having a warp item that will allow you to escape the dungeon in case you fall.
Shiren The Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is a great rogue-like dungeon crawling experience. The challenging dungeons, intricate items, and compelling story keep us coming back for more. Even though it inflicts harsh punishments when you are defeated, the game provides sufficient incentive to have you pat the dirt off your pants, wipe the blood off your face, and venture out once again for a fun, challenging, and gripping adventure.
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