Top Critic Average
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Aksys Games
This may be an entry in a highly specialized and generally unfriendly genre, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a better example of the type. Heartless, demanding, infuriating, yet seemingly boundless in the depth of its content and mechanics, the latest Shiren the Wanderer adventure wraps taxing game design in just-one-more replay appeal. Think of it as the Wolverine of console roguelikes: It's the best there is at what it does, and what it does isn't very nice.
At its heart, this is a game for the masochist players who, like me, keep trying to reach just one level further. Sure, we’ll be slaughtered, and there’s little we can do to fully prepare for every enemy that finds our soon-to-be-rotting corpses on the battlefield. But there’s something still cute about how dangerous an overpowered shadowy beast can be. I literally cheered when I survived my first night cycle (and was immediately slain in the daytime), but then I started back up again from the beginning, no progress having been made. This genre is almost a fetish for certain players, and this game presents as fervent an example as any can be. And that’s honestly its downfall, because it’s otherwise a good kind of challenging. I just wish it could feel like there was no way to get “good” at the game itself. You know, make it more "fun" instead of an instrument of pain tolerance.
Though I wouldn't consider it the best entry in the series, I absolutely enjoyed my time with Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate. It's a beautiful, challenging quest with a pleasing soundtrack I wouldn't mind having in my iTunes. With all the love I have for it in mind, I don’t know if I can recommend the game to anyone who isn’t already familiar with the series. Even if you’ve played the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spin-offs, this is another beast entirely. It’s a game you can play for 20 hours and feel like you didn’t make any progress at all. That’s a type of punishment some gamers just can’t handle. For me, it’s a type of punishment I can’t get enough of.
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Shiren The Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate Trailer