In his inaugural blog on our killer PS3 title, Demon’s Souls™
, AtlusAram infamously stated that here at Atlus, we “get off on your tears.” The type of game I’m going to be talking about here would traditionally give you plenty of reasons to cry, but perhaps it’s time for a paradigm shift.
Atlus is proud to reintroduce you to a title we announced last E3, Shiren the Wanderer™
, in his North American debut for the Wii.
is a rogue-like, a term coined for a sub-genre of RPG games that asks players to brave deadly dungeons where they collect gear and items and live their way to the other side. Typically, rogue-likes are turn-based, meaning that for every action your character takes, the enemies in the dungeon get one in response. The genre is also known for breaking players’ souls over its proverbial knee, as the formula for success is a fantastic mix of skill and luck that will never play out the same way twice.
It’s a little known fact: The name “Shiren” is actually the Japanese word for “trial,” “test,” or “ordeal.” But don’t get discouraged. I’m here to tell you about some of the ways this game brings the unexpected to whatever you think you know about Shiren or his genre.
For starters, Shiren’s latest outing is more like a traditional Japanese RPG than it ever has been. With an epic story spanning 1,000 years, three playable characters, huge item and monster lists, and key scenes being delivered in full-motion video, even gamers who tend to run for the hills whenever someone says the word “rogue-like” will feel right at home here. This blog is for you, Persona and JRPG fans. I’m one of you at heart, and Shiren
is right up your alley.
Ah, Japanese gods. This is how you know you’re home.
The adjustable difficulty is one of the ways Shiren
has really opened the doors for those of you willing to foray into a genre you’ve never explored. Normal sets the game to what the veterans expect – every time you die, you’ll lose all your items, a penalty that effectively sends you back to square one and adds a great element of tension to the dungeons. But for those of us who would rather keep our sanity and our Wii Remotes in working condition, there’s Easy, where should you fall, you get to hold on to the items you had at your last save. In fact, that’s the only real difference between Easy and Normal, so there’s no shame in picking it! ...I did.
That Midnight Staff has 5 uses. On easy, you’ll get to keep it when those things kill you!
Of course, the game has the quality Atlus localization you’ve come to expect from us. While Shiren falls into the role of your typical silent protagonist, ala many of our SMT
games, the story that unfolds around him is anything but typical. Steeped in Japanese mythology, and full of twists and turns, this is the reason I called out Persona
fans. I’d be spoiling it if I said much more than that, but you guys are really going to dig the way everything pans out.
And who doesn’t love time travel? At some points in the story, Shiren will travel back in time into the events that shape the story occurring in the present. Through a number of side quests, you can even make your trek through the dungeons that much easier by affecting the past to change the present.
And you won’t have to do it alone. A first for games like this, Shiren is joined by two wandering companions: Sensei, his master and uncle, and Asuka, a formidable swordswoman. The coolest thing about them? You can switch between the three of them at will, setting the characters you are not controlling to very specific orders and actions, all at the touch of a button. Or, for the ultimate tactical advantage, you can control all three characters, turn by turn. It’s very easy to customize your play style.
Sometimes, the bosses get to even out the odds.
Throw all this on top of the game’s massive boss fights, an incredible weapon customization engine, in-game achievements (did he just say achievements? In a Wii game!?), and a post-game story that’s anything but tacked on, and you’ve got a real JRPG package that’ll give you a reason to put the batteries back in those Wii Remotes.
Of course, I’ve spent a long time talking about how Shiren
on Wii has opened doors for newcomers. You veteran dungeon divers who prefer that games come just short of leaping out of the TV and stabbing you have gotta be wondering what Shiren
has in store for you. Well, you haven’t been forgotten. How does a 1,000 floor dungeon crawl sound? No, that’s not an extra 0. One. Thousand. Floors.
Next time, I’m gonna crack open the book on strategy, and show you guys some of the ways a pro-tour dungeon crawler tackles a game like Shiren the Wanderer
. I promise, it’ll be interesting and informative. But if you have any questions in the mean time, I’d be happy to address them, perhaps even in the next blog!
—by Scott Strichart, project lead