Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Review | A Charming Rhythm Game with "E Minor" Issues

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Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost, developed by Unknown X, is a rebuilt port of the 2021 mobile game. Check out our review to see which notes it hit perfectly, which ones it didn't, and if it's worth your money.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Review Overview

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Premise

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Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost takes place in Phantasia (also known originally as Gensokyo), where it has been destroyed. A maiden of the Hakurei Shrine, Reimu Hakurei, awakes to find her memories gone. She is approached by a ball of light who introduces itself as Mitama and informs her that she must collect Mitama Cards, which are Fragments of Memories, in order to restore the truth behind Phantasia’s ruin.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Overall

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost presents itself as a charming rhythm game, boasting a surprisingly intricate gameplay system that can captivate players for hours on end with its memorable tracks from the Touhou franchise. Unfortunately, the game's campaign fails to impress due to its underwhelming narrative and visual presentation. Nevertheless, Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost sets a new standard for rhythm gameplay, offering a unique and perfectly executed experience, beat by beat. With the promise of an upcoming free DLC, the game's potential for improvement remains high.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Story

While the initial premise of a girl with amnesia is promising, Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost is sadly all over the place with its narrative structure. This may be an intentional approach, but it ends up hindering the experience rather than enhancing the story's intriguing memory loss concept.

Furthermore, the assumption that players are already well-versed in the series leaves newcomers like myself feeling disconnected and bewildered by the somewhat interesting themes and characters introduced that don’t get their proper introduction. This lack of context results in a bland and forgettable experience, despite the game's potential. Given the franchise's renowned reputation for compelling storytelling and world-building, the execution could be better, leaving much to be desired. While veterans may find it easier to navigate, for newcomers, it's definitely not a promising start.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Gameplay

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost stands out with its innovative rhythm game modes, namely the Danmaku and Kagura stages. Each mode offers a unique gameplay experience, with plenty of depth and customization options. Players can expect exhilarating challenges across a wide range of difficulty levels, keeping them engaged and on their toes. Despite encountering minor input bugs, hitting the notes at just the right moment and pulling off combos feels incredibly satisfying and rewarding, often making you feel immersed in a captivating rhythm trance. The introduction of the free mode is a game-changer, granting players access to a plethora of unlocked or downloaded songs from the campaign. Just be sure to get ready for endless hours of rhythmic enjoyment as you fine-tune your skills and groove to your favorite tunes.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Visuals

Although the campaign's art direction may not turn heads, the CG art and rhythm stages are a different story. With stunning character designs and visually dynamic stages, the game immerses players in a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, lively anime sprites, and pulsating notes. It's a visual feast that captivates players and draws them into a trance-like state, compelling them to tap away in rhythmic bliss.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Audio

As a rhythm game, the importance of music cannot be overstated. If the music falls short, it can significantly impact the gameplay experience, potentially rendering the game unplayable. Fortunately, Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost delivers on this front. With an extensive and diverse track list, the game offers a plethora of memorable songs that are enjoyable to listen to even outside of gaming. I would have given it a perfect score but the absence of voice acting is a missed opportunity. Incorporating voice acting would have added depth and personality to the characters and potentially the underwhelming story too.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Value for Money

At $26, Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost offers reasonable value, especially for fans of the Touhou franchise or rhythm games. With enjoyable gameplay and upcoming free DLC featuring new music tracks, there's plenty of content to enjoy. However, if rhythm games aren't your cup of tea, this title will not change your mind.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Review | A Charming Rhythm Game with E Minor Issues

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Fantastic Track List
Checkmark Addicting and Surprisingly Deep Rhythm System
Checkmark Story is Not Quite My Tempo
Checkmark Lack of Visuals and Voice-Acting

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As a newcomer to the Touhou series, I was both excited and apprehensive to dive into its vast and cherished universe. While Touhou may not enjoy the same level of popularity outside of Japan, its rich world-building, captivating shoot 'em-up games, adorable anime characters, and stellar music have garnered a devoted fanbase worldwide. With the announcement of Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost, touted as a promising entry point for newcomers like myself, I eagerly embarked on my journey into this celebrated franchise.

Despite my initial excitement over the game's storytelling and world-building, I soon discovered that perhaps I should have chosen a different entry point into the franchise.

Don’t get me wrong, Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost is a fun game to play, but the story failed to captivate me. It's essentially a rhythm game with visual novel elements, where you clear stages to progress the narrative. You follow Reimu Hakurei, the maiden of the Hakurei Shrine, who awakens in Phantasia, a once-thriving place now in ruins. Blamed for its destruction, Reimu sets out on a quest to find the Fragments of Memories and uncover the truth.

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While the premise is intriguing, the plot feels disjointed, and the heavy reliance on text-based storytelling doesn't do it justice. Adding more CG art and 3D sprites could have helped to keep me engaged. However, I understand that these are common elements in the series, and perhaps exploring another game's story would better showcase what Touhou is truly about. Despite my disappointment with this particular story, the concept of Gensokyo remains captivating, leaving me eager to delve deeper into the franchise.

Thankfully, the game offers much more than just cute anime girls to keep players engaged. As someone who isn't particularly skilled at rhythm games, I appreciated the detailed tutorials and helpful abilities provided throughout the game.

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Unlike other rhythm games, this one strikes a balance between accessibility and depth, making it a great introduction to the genre for newcomers. Developers have paid careful attention to the sound effects, ensuring that the input sounds blend seamlessly with each track while still being distinct enough for precise gameplay. Within its mechanics lie ample opportunities for mastery, allowing players to refine their skills and precision.

It’s unfortunate that the game lacks a multiplayer mode but thankfully enough, it compensates with Free Mode, which preserves a selection of songs played in story mode and offers DLC for further enjoyment and mastery.

And let me tell you, Touhou fans were absolutely right; every song in the game is a gem worth listening to on repeat.

While I can't compare it to its mobile counterpart, this game excels as a fun rhythm experience, offering hours of tapping enjoyment with its stellar music tracks and creative rhythm modes. Although its story may not be its strongest suit, the potential for improvement is evident, especially with the promise of more DLC on the horizon. Here's hoping for additional story content in the future.

Pros of Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost

Things Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Got Right
Checkmark Fantastic Track List
Checkmark Addicting and Surprisingly Deep Rhythm System

Fantastic Track List

Fans often laud Touhou for its exceptional music, which is considered one of its strongest assets. Personally, I didn't expect the game’s music to live up to the hype, but it pleasantly surprised me. Despite the game's slow start with lots of text, the first song introduced, “LOSTPHANTASIA,” immediately drew me in and kept me engaged. Fortunately, the quality of the music remains consistent throughout the game, with tracks like “Resonance” further elevating its tracklist.

Moreover, the game's approach to unlocking songs is commendable. Players don’t have to complete a song in the campaign to unlock it; they can simply enjoy it in free mode or use it for practice as long as they play the stage for a bit in the campaign. This feature is particularly helpful for players struggling.

With Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale, contributing to some DLC music, I have high hopes for the game to keep its longevity. Currently, there are over 160 songs that can be unlocked which is extensive even for a rhythm game.

Addicting and Surprisingly Deep Rhythm System

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost offers a fresh take on the rhythm game genre, where players must skillfully press buttons in sync with the beat of the song playing. What sets Phantasia Lost apart from its counterparts is its innovative approach of having two modes.

The Kagura Stage falls into the traditional rhythm game formula, where notes approach from the top of the screen and you must time your button presses as they pass down where you perform a streak of unmissed notes to extend your combo and perfect all the songs.

The Danmaku Stage will be a unique experience that fuses the classic shoot ‘em up gameplay the Touhou games are widely known for with traditional rhythm game mechanics. Unlike typical rhythm games, notes will instead appear on the side of the screen, challenging players to hit them while navigating through waves of enemy attacks. Each successful note strike not only maintains the rhythm but also inflicts damage on the boss you are facing. However, players must multitask, balancing note-hitting with character control and precise aiming with their character in the middle of the screen to defeat formidable bosses.
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While the Danmaku stages may not be as frequent, they offer a thrilling change of pace in the gameplay experience. What's particularly appealing about both modes is their action-oriented nature. Every unlocked stage feels like a PvP encounter, where players engage in a rockathon challenge against characters with distinct abilities. These abilities inject fresh dynamics into the gameplay, adding layers of excitement and strategy to each encounter.

For instance, certain enemies possess abilities like generating fog that obstructs your field of view, a common challenge that truly tests your tapping prowess. However, players are not left defenseless, as they have access to abilities that can enhance their performance and counter enemy tactics.

Customizing your team layout with skills such as Mitama Cards, which grant various skills and attributes, is a key feature. Additionally, an equipped hero boasts passive skills that offer advantages, like increasing scores after achieving a certain number of combos or providing forgiveness for mistimed notes. The latter ability, found in the first Mitama Card players receive, is particularly recommended for newcomers looking to ease into the game.

It might not look like much at first, but the gameplay is surprisingly in-depth, especially for a rhythm game where you normally just tap to the beat of your heart. This additional layer of strategy introduces exciting opportunities to achieve perfect scores in songs, making it accessible even to newcomers. Despite its depth, the gameplay isn't overly convoluted, offering players the freedom to approach the game in a manner that suits them best.

Cons of Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost

Things That Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Can Improve
Checkmark Story is Not Quite My Tempo
Checkmark Lack of Visuals and Voice-Acting

Story is Not Quite My Tempo

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In addition to my previous criticisms of the story, there are further issues worth addressing. Many characters are introduced without proper context, leaving players puzzled about their significance to the plot.

Some keywords get thrown around without explanation. For example, while I now understand what an “Ephemeral” is, the story introduces them abruptly without much explanation, leaving me perplexed about their significance. The protagonist’s swift acceptance of these elements without question further adds to the confusion.
Certain plot points raise questions about the narrative's direction, as it seems to jump right into the game without much buildup. While this unconventional approach may have been intended to pique interest, it ultimately falls short of achieving intrigue.

Lack of Visuals and Voice-Acting

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What's sorely lacking in the story mode is the visual and auditory elements that could truly enhance the plot. This absence greatly hinders my enjoyment of the narrative, alongside its peculiar writing style. Incorporating more CG art and occasional voice acting could have significantly elevated the otherwise underwhelming story. They could have provided much-needed depth and immersion to the game's storytelling.

Is Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost Worth It?

It’s Worth It For Touhou Fans And Rhythm Game Fans

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Despite my grievances with the game's storytelling, fortunately, it didn’t detract from the captivating gameplay and stellar music, which more than compensates for its shortcomings. The engaging strategies you can employ in stages, the freedom to play your favorite tunes in free mode, and the vibrant aesthetics paired with the infectious music really sealed the deal for me.

Priced at $26, it may not be the cheapest option, but with its extensive playtime featuring over 160 songs and promising free DLC, it's a worthwhile investment for anyone looking for an immersive music experience. While casual players interested in rhythm games should definitely give it a try, it's not a top priority. As for Touhou fans, this is undoubtedly a must-buy.

Digital Storefronts
Steam IconSteam Switch IconSwitch (TBA)
Price: $26.99


70
Story
5
Gameplay
8
Visuals
7
Audio
8
Value for Money
7
Price:
$ 26
Clear Time:
10 Hours
Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost presents itself as a charming rhythm game, boasting a surprisingly intricate gameplay system that can captivate players for hours on end with its memorable tracks from the Touhou franchise. Unfortunately, the game's campaign fails to impress due to its underwhelming narrative and visual presentation.
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