The Japanese mega-franchise that is Touhou has had a good time on Steam lately, with the latest main game in the series debuting to massive sales and user-reviews to match, and the most recent spinoff fighting game making a splash despite its Japanese-language-only release.
What I wasn’t expecting was for commercial Touhou fangames to make their presence known so soon. Available now on Steam from Chinese indie team MyACG Studio is The Disappearing Of Gensokyo, an action-RPG/twin-stick shooter hybrid starring the iconic cast of the shmup series. And it’s in (patchy) English, too.
Thanks to original developer Team Shanghai Alice’s ultra-permissive policy on fan-works, Touhou derivative games are an industry unto themselves. This isn’t the first English-language fangame release either, with the PS4/Vita roguelike Genso Wanderer being the first on the block. What sets The Disappearing Of Gensokyo apart (aside from being a first on Steam) is that this seems to be an entirely self-published release, meaning that this could very well be the first of many Touhou launches, assuming no legal troubles arise over the coming days.
While the animation looks a little stuff in places, The Disappearing Of Gensokyo looks to be a surprisingly authentic take on the setting. Familiar characters, environments, enemies and bullet patterns recontextualized into a more aggressive twin-stick slugfest, with a wide range of playable characters providing wildly different play-styles. Original protagonist Reimu gets the most vanilla of all attack-sets, with a basic spread shot, bullet-clearing smartbombs and a dash move, while doll-summoning mage Alice places units around the battlefield and calls out targets to them for both ranged and melee attacks.
Surprisingly, the game already offers a DLC character pack, adding another three playable protagonists if the initial selection aren’t quite enough. The current English translation is very much a second (or third) language production at present, but the developer is apparently working closely with the industrious Touhou fan-translation crew to get it polished up, and they (quite reasonably) note that the game isn’t especially story-focused so should be fine to dive into now.
It seems that The Disappearance of Gensokyo’s launch has followed in the footsteps of the previous two Steam Touhou releases. While the game isn’t drowning in positive reviews as quickly as Touhou 16, at the time of writing, the unofficial Steam Charts says there are almost 700 players online and enjoying the game at present. A figure not to be sniffed at, considering the commercial fan-work nature of the game.
The Disappearing of Gensokyo is available now on Steam for 15% off a $10/£8.29 RRP, and another $3/£2.09 will get you the character DLC pack, including mighty miniature Oni Suika, time-bending maid Sakuya and unpredictable dream-deity Koishi.