Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost (2024) Game Review

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost

Rhythm games have been with us since Dance Aerobics was released in 1987. Since then, there have been all sorts of weird and wonderful variations, with prolific titles like Guitar Hero and PaRappa the Rapper standing out. However, there’s also been intriguing RPG spin-offs too, including Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight which dropped several years back.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost takes the same sort of idea as Dancing in Starlight, bringing together popular musical arrangements of Touhou Project songs and throwing them into a rhythm game that, in all honesty, is a bit rough around the edges despite being good fun to play.

Along with the rhythm game concept, Touhou throws in a story mode accompanying the different arrangements which falls into the tired cliché of a girl with amnesia needing to get her memories back. All of the story progression is told through expository dumps on flat backgrounds with long-winded lines of dialogues.

Honestly, there’s nothing to write home about here, and the map is split up into different worlds with a pretty straightforward reason for exploring each of these.

There are a couple of cutscenes thrown in but in all honesty, newcomers to this series will be completely lost as characters from the previous games are brought in with little context over their relationships to one another and their history.

The visuals themselves are nothing to write home about either. The general UI is pretty basic andthe rhythm game style becomes tedious and monotonous pretty quickly. Unlike the aforementioned Dancing in Starlight, there’s not much in the way of visual flair or uniqueness to really elevate the graphics while playing through these arrangements, and that is a bit disappointing.

However, where the game does improve is with its gameplay, which is actually pretty good and surprisingly moreish. The standard rhythm game shenanigans are here – press a button at the right time to the beat to build up your boost meter and improve your score – but there are additional little gimmicks that are a welcome inclusion.

In some stages, the arrangement is completely foggy, making it difficult to tell when you need to hit the notes. Other times, the speed is ramped up to maximum and there’s even a neat boss mode too. This is, of course, on top of differing difficulty modes but this solely relies on adding extra button presses (utilizing all six notes rather than 4 that the Easy and Medium modes use)

However, these boss fights are where the game really shines. It feels very reminiscent of what Theatrhythm Final Fantasy did so effortlessly last year. Here, the arrangement is switched so you press the trigger buttons rather than the face buttons, and move your character around on the screen to hit the boss above and avoid any incoming projectiles. It’s easily the best part of the whole game and blasting through these boss fights are a ton of fun.

Furthermore, the music itself is catchy and even those who have never played any of the previous games should find themselves in their element here. There’s a diverse track-list, lots of memorable songs and the audio in general is absolutely on the money.

However, it’s worth noting that the game does lack voice acting and some distinct Japanese audio to accompany the mass of dialogue and story exposition would have really helped this one.

Now, the game does boast over 160 arranged Touhou music but it can’t be stated enough that a lot of these are locked behind DLC packs. That’s disappointing, in all honesty, especially as the game doesn’t do enough (beyond the aforementioned boss fights) to really stand out and make a name for itself in this field.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura Phantasia Lost is crying out for more polish and to improve its presentation. The story mode, with its walls of text and static backgrounds, don’t work alongside the song arrangements as well as they could, and ultimately hold this back from being a better game.

It’s certainly not a bad rhythm title, and for ¬£23 it’s worth checking out if you love the genre, but there’s a niggling feeling that this is a bit rough around the edges and could have been so much more.


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