PS5 Review Touhou: New World Touhou: New World PS5 Review

Touhou: New World Review (PS5) – Rinsing And Repeating

Touhou: New World PS5 Review Touhou: New World is a new entry in the cult-classic Touhou series of bullet-hell action games. So-called for their use of visually bombastic and complex boss battles, this game sticks close to those roots. In that dedication to tradition, the game refuses to do anything beyond the status quo, resulting in an experience that feels nothing short of uninspired and a slog after an extended period.

Touhou: New World Review (PS5) – Rinsing and Repeating

Building the Foundations

The general loop of Touhou: New World is simple from the start and remains simple until the end; you play as Reimu, a shrine maiden and protagonist of the Touhou series who has been tasked with taming any frenzied Youkai in the village of Gensokyo.

As Reimu you travel across short action levels with a variety of obstacles before fighting a boss at the end. These bosses tend to be where most of the challenge in the game lies, with visually loud and complicated bullet patterns to be avoided. Each level in the game follows this formula to a T.

There is a second campaign with the other mainstay of Touhou, Marisa but the minute-to-minute gameplay largely remains the same.

This wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if the game provided incentives for experimenting and trying new options. Unfortunately, the game stumbles at this hurdle too. Combat rarely evolves from stage to stage and boils down to the same tiring exercise of projectile firing and dodging.

Fighting the Weird Fight

Combat functions from stage to stage but rarely becomes anything more than a mindless exercise for my thumbs – I found myself relying on the same moves in every mission and the game never pushed me to try new load-outs.

The enemy types in normal stages also never felt like they were challenging either – I chose to skip enemy encounters where I could for the sake of my own patience, which is hardly a good sign. Many of my moves had a very limited sense of weight or impact that would keep me coming back to a game such as this.

And on the rare occasion that the game asks you to platform to any degree, prepare to start wrestling with the controls to try and stay on the platform. The controls are slippery to say the least. Simplicity is by no means a bad thing, but this is a little too simple.

Trimming the Fat

Beyond the critical path, Touhou: New World similarly presents a disappointingly shallow set of mechanics and options to keep players playing the game. Mechanically the game seems to contradict itself at every opportunity to make me more confused the more that I play.

As expected, the game has a shop where you can spend money to upgrade and obtain new pieces of equipment to raise your stats. Except this largely means absolutely nothing. Aside from some curious moments, I never purchased anything from the store.

All equipment has completely randomised stats, which sounds like a fun way to ensure varied builds, but this inevitably means that new equipment became far more irritating than it should have been. The decision to not have a more defined stat progression system baffled me and made sure that everything in the shop was almost always worse than a random drop I had found in a mission.

There are options to re-roll on these random stats but it felt like a useless addition that creates a weird risk and reward system, when I can quite easily find a piece of equipment that is better, without the inherent risk of gambling it away.

The only part of this system that I engaged with was the Power Spheres, where I could spend currency gathered from sidequests to permanently buff my character with higher health, attack power and other useful stats. These bonuses were nice to have at the very least.

Jumbled Up From the Beginning

In terms of both narrative and visuals, the game also manages to feel like a colossal mixed bag. Interesting ideas and concepts are pared down and rarely have any form of impact.

Impressive anime portraits for the main cast are sometimes paired with comparatively ugly 3D renders of certain characters that really stand out. Despite this, the 2D art for the game is genuinely impressive and seeing even minor characters in that detail was great, when the 3D models are relatively low in detail.

Unfortunately, the story these characters are trapped in is borderline incomprehensible and full of contrivance until the very end. This is a title that you’ll want to play for the gameplay over the story, sadly. While it seems that the development team has pulled from various corners of the Touhou mythos to please fans, the end product feels underbaked and unfocused at best, and left me feeling without much motivation to actually see the story to the end.

Luckily, the game has some nice looking and varied environments for you to explore, and I found myself stopping a handful of times to take in some of the prettier environments. These were highlights when there weren’t obstacles being randomly placed without much rhyme or reason.

Ultimately, there may be some novelty for existing fans of Touhou with this new game. Seeing familiar characters in new situations is always an appealing idea and someone out there might enjoy it. But for me, the experience from level to level was tedious and tiring from when I turned the game off until the end. There’s a decent enough foundation here for sure, and a foundation I hope this team can elaborate on in future instalments.

Touhou: New World



The Final Word

There's a solid foundation to build upon here but far too many decisions feel contrived and confused for a strong recommendation to anyone other than the most diehard Touhou fan. Far too many mechanics can be borderline ignored, and the game hardly evolves throughout, leading to a game that struggled to keep my attention throughout its runtime with some nice visuals only doing so much to alleviate this tedium.