Shiren & The Wandering Review
Friday, April 23, 2010 at 9:56AM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Counterpoint, Design Space, Dynamics, Emergence, Interplay, Random, Shiren the Wanderer, Skill
Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer (Shiren) is a DS remake of an old SNES game released in Japan back in 1995. If I didn't know of its classic roots, I would write an article about how "next-gen" the game is. Instead, I'll attempt to convey a sense of the entire gameplay system by briefly stopping at each important topic. Like so many of my Shiren adventures, we're starting out this article with nothing.

Along with Spelunky and RO9, Shiren is part of a very small list of very good roguelikes. Two key design elements that characterize roguelikes are perma-death and randomly generated dungeons. To put it simply, you'll never play the same game twice. And when you die you have to start over from scratch (or something very close to it). If these core design elements don't make you sit up and snap to attention, then consider the power of...
Emergence and Counterpoint

Knowledge Skills



Decay and Dynamics


Interplay system


Design Space



Suspension (Persistence)


So here we are at the end of the article. You've put time into reading. And I've put 25+ hours into Shiren without conquering the main adventure. The game is very hard. Perhaps too hard. Like Spelunky, there's a point when the game becomes more difficult, tedious, and punishing than engaging, unique, and fun. Sometimes the dice of fate simply don't roll your way no matter how careful you think you are.

I know of a good strategy for beating the game. It involves investing a lot of time "leveling up" my weapons. As far as I'm concerned, that's playing the game like an RPG and not a strategy/puzzle game, which isn't too appealing for me. So I'm putting the game away most likely for good. In the game I'm currently at level 1 right at the beginning of the adventure with nothing in my inventory. Like waking from a dream, I have the memories of my wild, creative, and abrupt adventures. 25 hours of work and nothing to show for it but this article really.

If I've only learned one thing from Shiren, it's knowing when to move on.

Life's too short.

Update on Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 6:33PM by Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

UPDATE: I beat Shiren just shortly after writing the review. I thought I had come to a point where despite all of my skills I was simply rolling the dice. I didn't like the idea that all of my strategic planning wasn't enough to beat the random misfortunes that could doom my attempt at victory. So I tried it again putting all of my wits to the test and I did it! I got so good, I almost beat the game twice. Now the game is stored away in the vault, and I can rest at ease.  

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