Games take us to different worlds for various purposes. Sometimes, we get to explore how certain mechanics or powers might work. The journey could be a means of helping us deal with complicated concepts. They could even be an opportunity to let loose with some unbridled carnage as a form of stress relief. Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity does some of those things, but is best approached as a means of learning more about a character. To be more specific, it’s all about Remilia Scarlet, 500-year-old vampire and one of the game’s two heroines.
Remilia Scarlet is one of the strongest people in Gensokyo. She’s lived in the area for years, established herself within a majestic mansion and has even been responsible for and part of several incidents over the years. The game begins with her looking like a petulant child. She’s whining to her chief maid about being bored and needing a challenge. This minimal bit of exposition doesn’t do much except perhaps make someone wonder why she would be bored, how powerful she really is and if someone who behaves like this could actually be a heroine you’d want to root for throughout the game.
The first few levels of Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity help define Remilia as a character. It sets her up in a position of authority. Going through the levels and tearing apart standard enemies in one or two hits establishes her as a powerhouse. She is better than these standard mooks. They’re no match for us as a player, so of course they are nothing to her. While it may not make for the most interesting encounters, these interactions define her. They allude to her power level. Yet, they also show her weakness, as they take place during the day. As strong as she is, she is subject to the same limitations all vampires experience.
Each stage’s bosses give voice to outsiders’ thoughts on Remilia. Their reactions and conversations with her are educational. Everyone is afraid when they meet her. One even notes that the people in town hid in their homes when they realized she was coming. They reference an incident in which she brought a red mist to the town to bend nature to her will. Her reputation proceeds her. She can best most bosses of these early enemies without much trouble, with her special attacks’ bullet sprays putting theirs to shame. The scripts and fights both show her place as an authority figure, often feared, in this world.
Her interactions with friends and family are even more informative. Sakuya is Remilia’s head maid and serves her, but their interactions sound more like conversations between friends than between a boss and employee. They care for and respect each other. Sakuya goes to lengths to assist her in her own route, while Remilia makes a point of keeping an eye out for Sakuya on her own. Remilia also treats her little sister, Flandre, quite well. You can see she is thinking of the younger girl, as at one point she picks up a weapon and says she’ll give it to Flandre later. She also suggests bringing the younger girl, usually kept captive in the mansion, to a festival. Remilia cares about and is loyal to both of them, showing a warmth that the other interactions between strangers lack.
The endings, both standard and true, show a sense of practicality and strength Remilia didn’t exactly show in Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity’s introduction. She’s become quite involved in everything going on; she’s done her best to rectify situations and put people who weren’t being courteous in their place. In one portion, her entire staff comes out to support her. In both, she’s no longer bored and found the challenge she was hoping for; our heroine is finally satisfied and is happier for it.
Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity isn’t a game that stands out in many areas. It’s more of an opportunity to see Remilia Scarlet at her best. We see a former Touhou villain making good, despite her past. The game defines her, letting us follow a strong woman as she does explores incidents, proves herself and eventually saves the day. Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is a character piece, and people will understand Remilia better after playing it.