Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is a classic roguelike experience that is developed and published by Spike Chunsoft Co. The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is the fifth main entry in the Shiren franchise. This review will be based on the recent Steam release for PC, although it was originally released on the Nintendo DS and the Playstation Vita following years later. The Shiren series is the mother of the Mystery Dungeon genre. This series would later pave the way for many other titles that encompassed Mystery Dungeon attributes such as Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and Etrian Mystery Dungeon.
In The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate you play as Shiren the Wanderer along with your partner Koppa the talking ferret. Soon after the introductory cinematic you begin your journey by coming across Inori Village. After your arrival you come across Jirokichi who needs your help in saving a girl by the name of Oyu, thus starts your quest to save her. In your quest you traverse different villages and dungeons each with their own unique atmosphere. Along your journey you are introduced to various npcs and locations as well as new mechanics at every turn.
In The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate you traverse various dungeons while fighting away hordes of monsters and talking to a multitude of NPCs. The steady goal is to reach it to the dungeons top floor while fighting monsters in a tactical turn-based approach. Being a traditional roguelike every dungeon is procedurally generated, I found this to help with the longevity of the game. With any roguelike when you die you lose all of your progression including your experience and levels gained as well as any currency you had obtained, along with any items and equipment. Although this may be off putting to some, you do gain the option of depositing your most beloved items and equipment to store for later runs. This mechanic may bother some but it is this mechanic that adds so much replay ability to the title. Each and every run is different but your goal is always consistent. However, there are some great mechanics that allow your death to not be as harsh, such as auto-revive items and NPCs that tag items in your inventory that will remain with you through death. Death in Shiren can be extremely frustrating but it is because of the constant death that makes the game such a thrill to play. Each and every death teaches you something new thus changing the very way that you play and strategize throughout the course of the game.
If you are familiar with Mystery Dungeon titles then the combat will come as no surprise to you. It is a turn-based style of combat in which your moves are simultaneous along with your foes. The combat encases basic attacks, throwing stones, using magic wands that have numerous effects, a variety of spells and many other options that alter the rhythm of combat. Shiren is also able to recruit NPCs to his party to aid him along his quest. The combat in The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is always introducing new items, enemies, or mechanics which constantly renovates the combat system. As you progress throughout the game you are introduced to an abundance of new systems some of which allow you to upgrade equipment and even partake in a type of lottery. A couple other examples of elements that change the course of battle and dungeon delving include a day and night cycle along with a multitude of traps designed to ruin your day.
The visuals in The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate are gorgeous pixel graphics akin to retro games. The art style is beautiful and vibrant and gives life to every aspect of the game. I love pixelated graphics so I felt right at home. Shiren as a whole just has a wonderful ambiance to it.
The soundtrack in The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is fantastic and really builds on to the stunning atmosphere that is already provided via the art style and setting.
Although The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is an exceptional re-release it certainly has its flaws. In the previous versions of The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate there was a multiplayer mode beyond just rescuing fallen players but it is absent in the Steam and Switch versions. One of the most frustrating elements of this version is that you cannot rebind any keybindings, the game gives a few different layouts to use but does not allow the player to rebind anything, forcing you to either use a controller or become comfortable with the finicky set of keys. Another very irritating issue is that of the borderless window and its routine of being dragged away with your mouse, this proved to be much more of an issue than it appears.
Among the worst of its flaws it still stands strong and provides a solid experience. I really enjoyed the complexity of dungeons and items. I also greatly appreciated the feeling of gradually getting stronger each and every run. One aspect of roguelikes that is always a necessity is that feeling of constant progression after every run, this is apparent in The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate. The consistent discovery of game changing mechanics is what brings me back time and time again.
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is an outstanding game if you are a fan of mystery dungeon and or roguelike games. Shiren takes these two genres and blends them together remarkably. My only complaints with the game are directed towards the issues with the pc port because the game itself is magnificent. The pc port does have quite a few issues and if you are a returning player you may be disappointed by the lack of the multiplayer modes exhibited in the previous release. The lack of multiplayer modes paired with the absence of the ability to change keybindings are two of my biggest complaints. Whether or not you are returning to Shiren or picking it up for the first time, you will certainly enjoy yourself in The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate despite any port issues.