Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island Review (Nintendo Switch)

Published on April 20th, 2024 by Kierra Lanier

Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island Review (Nintendo Switch)

Within the roguelike genre, games centered around the concept of mystery dungeons are a niche that have their fanbase among the community. With games such as the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Void Terrarium, and Shiren the Wanderer, the core concept is always the same: explore as much of the dungeon as you’re able to without being defeated, or else lose all progress that you’ve made up to that point. There’s a joy in overcoming the heavy price of losing progress in a video game and for fans of the Shiren the Wanderer series, the newest title of the series The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island, a new challenge is presented.


Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island is the latest installment in the series. While the game does have established characters with Shiren and his companion ferret Koppa, newcomers don’t need any previous knowledge to jump into this title. The two wanderers are currently on an adventure from Tsukikage Village, experiencing visions of an island filled with treasure and a lone girl seeking help. While on their adventure, they run into a group of starving locals who alert them about a drought due to the the sun god, Kokatsu.

The legend of Kokatsu in Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island
Kokatsu is the cause of the drought currently occurring, due to its anger towards the clouds blocking the sun.

Once wondering onto the topmost level of Serpentcoil Island, Shiren faces against the fearsome monster said to live there, only to face defeat and wake up at the base of the island. However, thanks to the help of the innkeeper, he has a place to stay if he finds himself back at the base during his adventures. From there, Shiren must deal with his amnesia, as well as make his way back up to the summit to battle the monster again.

While there are breadcrumbs of story sprinkled throughout the game, the gameplay is the main draw. The characters are charming enough to be likeable, but that’s about it when it comes to the writing of the game.


Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island is a roguelike RPG. A part of the mystery dungeon subgenre, you control Shiren as he maneuvers through dungeons battling monsters and collecting items. All you have are the clothes on your back and some rice balls initially to get you through the floors of dungeons. To progress, you need to pick up items scattered along the floors of dungeons and make full use of them. As you progress deeper into Serpentcoil Island, the enemies grow stronger and after a while, figuring out the balance of fighting and fleeing will be very important to continuing onward. Along with maintaining your health, you also have a hunger bar that you’ll need to keep full, or else your health will start depleting at a rapid pace.


There are a variety of monsters that you’ll run into as you traverse through the mystery dungeons. Some monsters will only attack when they are right next to you, while others can attack from a distance. Any kind of movement made by you causes all enemies to move one square in any direction. Typically, any movement made by an enemy will be towards you. The predictability of the enemy movements makes it possible to maneuver in such a way to give yourself an advantage (such as being able to land the first hit in battle).

Monsters in Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island
Monsters early on a cute and adorable, posing little threat to Shiren.

Shiren is able to attack enemies with a regular melee attack. However, as you explore the dungeon, you’ll come across items that give you the ability to attack from a distance. This can be anything from arrows, rocks, or even seeds that can be used to give status ailments to enemies. Once you use an item, it’s gone forever, so it’s important to weigh your options before using your items. On the other hand, if you choose not to use an item and end up fainting in battle, you end up losing all items that aren’t stored in a dojo. So while you shouldn’t blow through all of your items immediately, you don’t want to horde your items until you can’t use them.

Monsters in Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island pt. 2
As you progress, you’ll encounter new monsters in new areas.

Occasionally, you’ll come across other travelers and merchants in the dungeons. Some travelers will ask you to trade an item, while others will offer to take an item out of the dungeon with them to store in the dojo. Items in the dojo can be accessed even if you end up losing. This is a great way to save valuable items for later runs. There are also sales people on some floors, where you can buy a variety of items.

Behemoths in Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island
There are a variety of monsters and as you progress, they become more and more deadly.

While you do gain experience and level up, an important factor is maintaining your equipment. Unless you’re grinding in the dungeons, which isn’t recommended as leveling up doesn’t leave you with a great advantage. Instead, equipping any weapon and shield will increase your stats to a bigger degree.

The combat overall doesn’t get more complex, outside of new enemy types appearing as you progress into the dungeon. In terms of keeping the game streamlined and making runs much faster, this is a plus. You don’t need to invest a lot of time into learning the combat systems and can focus more on the strategies of item management. However, if you’re expecting something more involved (like stat or ability management), then you’re going to be disappointed in this case.

Dungeon Crawling

In mystery dungeon titles, the dungeon crawling is a big aspect of the game. All floors are procedurally generated, with no two floor layouts being the same. However, the downside with that is that there isn’t anything that sets these dungeons apart, making them feel cookie cutter. The monsters that exist in each area stay the same, but you may or may not run into particular monsters during a specific run. Along with the monsters, there are traps that are hidden on tiles on the floor that can have a variety of effects. While there is an item that can show any hidden traps on a floor, most of the time you’ll be walking around randomly before suddenly stepping on a trap.

Stairs to next floor in Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island
You can progress to the next floor by finding stairs or the exit, indicated by a green square on the map.

There is a map feature with the game, but the map will only be shown as you explore around the floor. Sometimes, you’ll find the stair to the next floor right away. Other times, it may be the last room you encounter. The entirety of Serpentcoil Island consists of floors, but there is a break in-between different areas. Sometimes, you’ll encounter towns where you can replenish items, refill your hunger bar, and talk to other side characters to advance the story. Enemy levels jump between different areas, so you’ll want to be prepared before jumping head first.

Like with combat, the dungeon crawling aspect is easily figured out after your first run through Serpentcoil. The floors will start to feel the same, outside of the different monsters that you’ll encounter in each area. The simple nature makes it easy to jump right in without too much preamble.


For those unfamiliar with how Shiren the Wanderer operates, the game can be very difficulty out the gate. While you do level up while in the dungeon and can collect good items, if you end up fainting in the dungeon, you will lose all progress. Any items that you’re carrying and any levels gained are reset and you’re teleported back to the start of the island to do it all again. Even for those used to mystery dungeon titles that allow you to maintain your level growth, it can take some adjusting. You will collect a wide variety of items, and it’s important to realize when it’s better to fight and when it’s better to flee.

Adventure stats report after collapsing in battle in Entering the next area will show details concerning enemy levels, as well as the levels of other players
When you die in the dungeon, a report will show all of your stats thus far.

There is a safety net of sorts with the rescue functionality. If you use the online functionality, you are able to request help from other people playing the game. But for those who are playing strictly single player, your only choice is rescuing yourself. Since the items received of the dungeon seems to remain the same during rescue missions, if you found yourself on a good run with good items, you can attempt to rescue yourself and hope that you get lucky with the layout of monsters.

Entering the next area will show details concerning enemy levels, as well as the levels of other players in Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island
Entering the next area will show details concerning enemy levels, as well as the levels of other players.

At the end of the day, while knowing the mechanics of the game are important to getting through the dungeons, luck plays a factor as well. There will be times where you end up in a monster den with no items to help. You can have runs where you get amazing equipment within the first few floors. You can have runs where you don’t have onigiri to quench your hunger for several floors. But in those moments, it’s important to manage your resources and think of the best way to progress that will result in as less damage taken as possible.

Aesthetic and Music

You can trade items with fellow travelers in dungeons in Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island
Travelers will offer to trade items with you, which can result in some good rewards.

Compared to other Switch titles, Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island looks a bit dated, especially when it comes to its menus. The models are fully 3D, styled in a way that makes them look like clay. It has some charm to it, although at the end of the day the game does end up looking cheap due to the basic nature of the menus and the low-resolution of the environments, monsters, and characters. In terms of performance, the game runs fine, given that there isn’t much to really push the Switch to its limits.

When it comes to the music, much of the soundtrack takes on a traditional Japanese influence. Flutes and drums are all throughout the OST and while the soundtrack in general sounds fine, nothing really stands out to set this soundtrack apart from others like it.


For those who are familiar with the Shiren the Wanderer series or even mystery dungeon games in general, this game is much of the same. Offering a challenge that can be fun to overcome, it truly is a game that is easy to learn but hard to master. For those not familiar with the game, the difficulty curve can be rough to overcome. Having a really good run end in sudden failure due to a wave of enemies is demoralizing. But the game is addicting, allowing for quick runs through the game, especially as one gets used to the mechanics. It’s definitely not a game for everyone, but for those who like a challenge, or just want to scratch the mystery dungeon itch, Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island is a decent game to jump into.

Score: 7/10.

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About Kierra Lanier

Kierra has a major love for RPGs, visual novels, and tactics games. She loves playing weird anime games and screaming said games on Twitter.