Much like its sister product, Touhou Gensou Wanderer, Touhou Double Focus is all about the Touhou girls, as they battle against enemies in order to restore peace. Double Focus takes inspiration from classics such as Castlevania and Metroid, allowing players to traverse back and forth throughout the level and collect important items to further assist them on the journey. There are roguelike elements attached to it as well, meaning that if you die you have to start from the beginning of the dungeon so making sure to save progress on the go is imperative.
What to Expect
Touhou Double Focus is like Touhouvania in that, it mimics a lot of the classic Metroidvania style gameplay while still incorporating some genuine aspects to keep the game feeling fresh. One example is that Aya and Momiji can be used strategically while traversing through the map, allowing you to take advantage of their skills. We’ll go into more detail in the gameplay section, but this is definitely something to expect once you load the game up and start playing. Fans of the Touhou universe will most certainly be well acquainted with the character roster, but for those who aren’t up to date with Touhou at all no need to worry, as not knowing the characters doesn’t take away from the pleasant experience.
Aya and the rest of her friends get sucked into a magical book and are now in this totally new and foreign world. They come to realize that all of their powers have been weakened and now must follow the advice of Kosuzu in order to reclaim their powers while searching for books along the way. None of the characters know what to expect in this unknown world, and with their powers limited just how will they survive? Aya and Momiji must uncover more together and put all the pieces of the puzzle together to unravel the truth behind this mysterious world.
We Must Find These Books!
In Touhou Double Focus a lot of your attention will be focused on of course surviving but more importantly trying to uncover all of the hidden secrets scattered throughout the massive stages. Books are what you’ll be looking for as well since they unlock new abilities for your characters, which will most certainly come in handy during intense boss battles. The game consists of three modes, easy, normal and double focus mode, with the latter being the most unforgiving and grueling out of all them. We tried our hands at double focus mode since it encourages players that enjoy a real good challenge to try it out, and we definitely were in for one heck of a ride. Within the first few sections of the stage, we found ourselves dying almost instantly because enemies hit extremely hard, with some even instant killing you at times. We didn’t regret our decision because it really gave us the promised challenge, but anyone who isn’t familiar with how this 2D platformer works you’ll be doing more dying than surviving.
For the purpose of this review, we decided to suck up our pride and just go for the normal mode, which is like night and day when compared to double focus mode. There are a lot more Cure books lying around for you to pick up, with enemy damage being far less punishing which, to be honest, made us feel a little disheartened. We managed to get through the majority of the game on normal mode no problem simply because everything was toned down, but then again we received such a beating in double focus that perhaps it trained us to perform better. Whatever the case may be, much of the game felt far less risky but still provided enough of a challenge to keep you coming back for more.
Enemies will always respawn when you re-enter a room, but their lack of responsiveness in terms of your whereabouts felt limiting and so we could simply just run by them without noticing or attack them from behind without them countering. Aside from those setbacks, Touhou Double Focus still manages to deliver in replay value because you’re always trying to come up with clever ways to use Aya and Momiji’s movesets while encountering other Touhou girls that will assist you along the way.
Where to Next?!
As we stated earlier, Touhou Double Focus is quite massive and you’ll oftentimes find yourself wondering where to go next, or back to a room you already investigated. Unfortunately, there’s no bonus perk for killing enemies meaning that, there’s this feeling of emptiness when there’s no reward given for your job well done. Sometimes enemies will drop Cure books which may come in handy in various scenarios, but we would’ve liked it if there was some element where we would receive more than just the simple power-ups. Maybe adding some RPG elements where you could upgrade your characters over time would’ve been a great addition, but then again we’re probably asking too much out of the game since it’s quite simple in its design algorithm.
Be that as it may, Touhou Double Focus is still a decent game that will provide Touhou fans with their own little Metroidvania experience and even those who don’t follow the series can still find enjoyment. Will you use your skills and items to your advantage? Or will you succumb to the grueling boss battles? Only one way to find out and that’s to try the game out for yourself!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Touhou Double Focus isn’t meant to be your AAA title nor is it meant to be a game that’s to be placed on a pedestal, it’s a game that honestly caters to a loyal fan base and it takes a very popular genre to make it more enticing for those said fans. It’s fun, it encourages you to really do a lot of searching to uncover skills such as being able to extend your health bar or simply discovering secret books that will come in handy throughout the game’s story. Speaking of the story, it’s not your grandiose style of narrative that has you emotionally latching onto the main character or other sub characters, but rather a simple and humorous one that perhaps only fans of the Touhou franchise may come to understand. We don’t follow the Touhou universe at all yet, the gameplay itself is what we stuck around for and it was honestly worth the experience albeit a little on the short side.
With its limitations in regards to options and no online features to boast, Touhou Double Focus will certainly have you focusing on the gameplay but no need for a double take once you’ve completed everything. We strongly suggest that if you want the best out of this game you’ll want to play on double focus mode just so that things feel more interesting, and the challenge will keep you returning. Easy mode isn’t even worth mentioning because it honestly provides no real depth whatsoever, and it spoils you to the point of boredom. Normal mode is certainly the median and comes with its perks, so maybe if you’re not fully ready to take on the demanding double focus mode you can still thoroughly enjoy yourself.
Addicting Metroidvania style gameplay, with some roguelike elements attached to it.
Funny narrative for those who fancy the Touhou universe.
Massive maps allow for lots of running around and investigating for items.
Lacking online features hurts its replayability.
Bare bones in terms of options.
Fairly short campaign and once finished everything, no point in coming back (You can do time attack if you’d like).
Normal mode felt way too simple compared to Double Focus mode, and easy mode isn’t worth playing at all.
Very limited character customization system.
Honey's Final Verdict:
As we stressed throughout much of the article, Touhou Double Focus isn’t to be taken too seriously. It’s meant to cater to a particular fan base while still offering players outside of that circle to enjoy a very classic Metroidvania style game. Whether you decide to play it through to the end is really up to you, but there’s still fun to be had because double focus mode will most certainly provide a very grueling challenge even for the most seasoned players. When the game releases March 21st in the US and 24th in EU, be sure to drop a comment down below and let us know what you thought about Touhou Double Focus. Be sure to also show some love and share our articles on social media to keep the community buzzing!
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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!