Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and The Dice of Fate is a roguelike role-playing game developed by Chunsoft and was released initially on the Nintendo 3DS in December of 2010, but a revamped version for the PS Vita was released six years after.
We’ll be taking a look at the Vita version which has upgraded visuals and bonus features that weren’t found in the original. Those who really enjoy a grueling challenge and tactical thinking, will truly enjoy this series because we’ll be honest with you, this game is unforgiving. It combines a very traditional old school RPG feel but throws in the roguelike difficulty to keep you coming back for more. For those who are unfamiliar with roguelike titles, it’s a type of genre that puts the player in very challenging situations and once you die, you lose everything and must start back from the beginning.
What to expect
If you’ve played the 3DS original, then this game will feel right at home, with some added features to keep you enticed for hours. As stated above, Shiren the Wanderer is a roguelike role-playing game which requires the player to use sound judgment when in dungeons, because any false move can result in you starting from scratch with nothing. The game can be very unforgiving at times because the dungeons always change, so there’s never a guaranteed way of advancing forward to each floor.
Before you progress into any dungeon, deep analysis, and proper planning should be considered, since you’ll need to ensure that every move you make is a logical one and not a blind move. As you gradually reach higher floors, the level of monsters you encounter also increases, along with their strength. Collecting items throughout the floors will most certainly create more benefit for you in the long run, but keeping track of everything you have in hand can sometimes be a challenge in itself, so keeping a careful eye on your storage is imperative for survival.
There’s a legend that speaks of Reeva, the God of Destiny, that holds extreme power over the past, present, and future. He is said to dwell in the dark and mysterious Tower of Fortune, and that the fate of humanity is decided by how a trio of magic dice is played. Hearing that this could potentially change his fate, Shiren, along with his trusted partner Koopa, must now climb the legendary tower in search for these die to take his chances and see how everything plays out. Along the way, the two encounter Tao, a girl dressed in a panda suit who assist you in your adventures, but will she be enough to help get you to the top without succumbing to unfortunate death? Only one way to find out...
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and The Dice of Fate’s story takes place between the events of Shiren the Wanderer DS2 which released for the Game Boy Color, and Shiren the Wanderer 3 which saw its release on the Wii. This version compared to all other versions is jam packed with a variety of new features and additional dungeons that will either be exciting, or excruciatingly frustrating.
Dungeons | Day and Night Impact
Every dungeon that you enter is randomly generated. This means that over the course of the time you play, a lot of things will constantly change. You have the choice of choosing between the Tower of the Past, Present, or Future, and whichever one you decide on is up to you. The Tower of the Future is the most difficult out of all three, so unless you’re experienced with the game, stay away for the time being. The layout of the map will be different each time, along with the placement of items as well as the monsters you encounter. This adds a lot of variety to the game because you’re never promised a successful run, and even when you do find yourself in a good position the game throws a curveball at you, and you end up dying in seconds.
One thing to note is that the levels and types of monsters that you’ll encounter will still stay the same, so you don’t have to worry about coming across random monsters that you haven’t seen before. If that were the case, Chunsoft would be considered a truly evil developer and our blood pressure levels would go through the roof.
Be that as it may, the game is still very taxing on the mind and these dungeons do not let you off the hook so easily. There have been times where we died shortly after entering the first floor of the dungeon and having to rethink our actions each and every time to avoid running into problems. The benefit of this trial and error procedure, however, is that the more you actually play through each stage and get a feel for things, you’ll start to notice your progression increasing gradually over time.
Now, what really makes Shiren the Wanderer such a demanding game is that everything is constant flux, meaning, you’re never too sure what to expect. The game comes with a day and night feature where, at night, Shiren slowly begins to lose sight of what’s in front of him, meaning, you can’t read any of the scrolls you’re carrying and without the proper items in hand, you’ll never find a way to illuminate your path. Even more daunting is that the monsters you come across are far more dangerous than their daytime counterparts, so ensuring that you’re equipped with the right weapons and items is paramount.
One great benefit, however, that does create a higher sense of security is you can place items you’ve received through successfully completing dungeons into the storage center, which can be found at various storage shops in the game. So if you don’t feel entirely confident that the next dungeon will turn out to be a sure outcome, leaving some of your important belongings there will prove beneficial in the long run.
Skills | New Items | Etc.
Throughout the game, you can acquire skills that will allow you to take on stronger monsters at night, and easily deal with a pack of monsters during the day. As you progress through each floor, Shiren levels up more and more as you make your way through, allowing you to harness new abilities. You can also encounter special characters throughout the game who will grant you special abilities, so be sure to keep an eye out for any wanderers that you see along the way. Once you’ve learned special abilities, you’ll then wear a necklace which can be used at night to fight off the tougher monsters that exist. The only problem that you’ll run into as you progress to each new floor, is each orb on your necklace can only be used once per floor, meaning that you’ll really need to think about your next course of action otherwise it can really give you a headache after awhile.
New Items can be created by using the secret pot which Ponkichi explains to you early in the game. Everything is run off of real time, meaning, unlike other games where you can just run to the nearest inn and speed up time by resting, this game’s time is based solely off of our time. So if you ever create a new item, let's say from a weapon you want to upgrade, you’ll have to wait an entire day before coming back to see it waiting for you. The longer you keep it boiling in the secret pot, the higher the chance that you’ll receive a much stronger upgrade. Leave it for too long, however, and your new item will turn into weed which basically is a complete waste, so you have to always be mindful of your decisions each and every single time.
One thing that caught our attention the most were the traps, as these are randomly placed throughout each floor of the dungeon, and setting one off could spell trouble for you, especially in very high-risk scenarios. Not all of the traps are necessarily bad, however, such as the point trap, that can earn you points on your point card to purchase merchandise such as powerful weapons and items for your journey. You’ll know what a point trap looks like because usually, you can see it on the map, while other dangerous traps are just all over the place tucked under all of the dirt. If you have a strong intuition that a trap may be nearby, you can simply just attack in whatever direction you want to set it off without you stepping on it.
This brings us to another great feature, which is the ability to use the right control stick to control the camera rotation, along with the directional pad to move and attack in a diagonal direction. This opens up new ways to attack your enemies such as throwing rocks at them, or strategically placing yourself around a group of monsters and reading a powerful scroll to defeat them. It’s this versatility and never ending creative permit that makes Shiren the Wanderer quite fun to play despite its surprises.
Auras | Friendship License | Item Synthesis
Auras play a major role in determining just how to defeat certain monsters in dungeons as you progress. Auras act as an indicator which allows you to differentiate the strength of monsters, and give you an idea of just how to actually deal with it. Using any kind of data you find throughout the game will surely make your dungeon crawling much more satisfying, and prevent you from pulling your hair out too much along the way.
One benefit is you can acquire a Friendship License which allows you to take control of a race of monster such as a flamebird, and use them in a battle to assist you. Mind you, these licenses don’t come cheap, with the lowest cost being 5,000, you really have to be on your toes in this game to save up that much money to acquire one. It’s small benefits like this, however, that actually motivate you to put in more time to the game that your adventure becomes more rewarding, rather than repulsive. Item Synthesis is a cool feature where you can take any weapon, shield, or stave and give them buffs to ensure that you don’t end up dying early. Knowing that we could only equip one weapon at a time was the challenge because we had to decide which of our weapons was the most useful in certain situations.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
There’s so much replay value in the game because you’ll always start back at level 1 as you continue to die in each dungeon, which makes it very thrilling because you’re always trying to come up with new strategies to make your journey that much greater. There are online features available in the game that allow you to be rescued by other wanderers, either by using AD HOC or an internet connection. You’d have to wait quite some time before someone actually comes to show up which can be a little disheartening at times, but if you don’t feel like waiting then you could always just restart again and try even harder to beat your earlier record. You, too, can also rescue other wanderers as well, and if you successfully rescue someone you can earn rescue points which you can use to redeem new items, etc.
That’s why it’s such an engaging game because you’re always being challenged to overcome new obstacles and successfully beat your old records, which give off that sense of self-fulfillment every time you complete a floor. The past tower was what we started with initially, but if you’re brave enough to scrap with the tougher enemies right off the bat, then the present and future towers are there for you. With a versus/co-op mode feature available as well, it truly provides a much more immersive experience as you’re now working with another individual to solve problems on the fly and ensure the two of you make it out alive. Versus mode is what you’d expect from any versus feature, so if you feel like competing for the high score then the option is there for you. With so many awesome features that come with the Vita package, it’s hard to go through them all but there’s using mixer monsters, customizing items, resonance benefits and much more to look forward to.
Very nostalgic graphics.
Deep and challenging gameplay.
Extremely high replay value.
Versatile and creative ways to overcome challenges.
There’s always a sense of reward after completing a dungeon such as receiving points, etc.
Multiplayer option is definitely a plus.
Can be challenging for anyone new to roguelike games.
The randomly generated enemies can get on your nerves at times.
Having to sometimes wait a long time for someone to rescue you.
Honey's Final Verdict:
In a nutshell, Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and The Dice of Fate is an incredibly fun game that will keep you wandering back and forth for new items to synthesize, upgrading abilities and just trying to overcome each dungeon as they progressively get harder over time. While there will be moments where you just want to shut the game off from frustration, it’s that very same feeling that draws you right back in because you’re so determined to make it to the next dungeon that you’ll do whatever it takes to get there.
Your creativity and tactical prowess will most certainly provide a pleasurable experience, so we encourage you to always stay focused and think two steps ahead to really get the best out of this fantastic roguelike experience. If you’d like to see any other Vita exclusives from Japan, please let us know in the comments section down below, and we may just play it for you!
As always for all things sweet, with all the buzzing news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!