The overworld map is attractively 2D, and Shiren's awesome hat is on full display.
Shiren the Wanderer has a really cool hat. If I took anything away from Atlus's demonstration of the game, it was that Shiren's hat is the epitome of stylish headgear. I also discovered that Shiren the Wanderer is likely one of the most accessible rogue-likes ever made. Rather than focus on what Shiren might offer to rogue-like fans, instead I will focus on what makes Shiren a game of interest to those who would otherwise have no desire to play it.
The most important element of note is the much less intimidating difficulty. On every difficulty, death will not reset your level, a huge departure from most rogue-likes. Instead, you only lose the items in your inventory. If even that seems too intense for some players, an easy mode exists, in which death will only remove items earned in the dungeon in which you died. Any items held previously will still be in tact.
The game also seems to have a much heavier focus on story. The demonstration showed off several cutscenes, and an element of the story provides for a rather interesting element of gameplay. At certain points in the game, Shiren will be dragged back in time to complete a series of quests in the past. However, his past and present self will have two separate item and experience sets. The demonstration started with Shiren at level nineteen, but upon defeating a boss and reaching a new area, a cutscene began that saw him enter the past. At this point, his level changed back to one, and all his items disappeared. Inquiring about this, Atlus responded that when Shiren returns to the present time, his items and experience will be restored. They weren't able to say whether future trips to the past would restore the experience gained in previous trips, but it seems a likely conclusion.
Combat is very, very simple.
The visual style is also quite attractive. The 3D models are decent, but the real treat was the gorgeous world map that almost looked hand-drawn. Shiren wanders along this map between locations as an incredibly retro 3-frame sprite animation.
However, as interesting as the deviations from typical rogue-likes are, the core gameplay still seems to be pretty much the same. As you move through the dungeons, enemies also move in half turn-based, half real-time grid combat. The combat itself is extremely simple, but also quite fast. What we saw didn't seem to be too difficult, however, so it isn't likely to frustrate newcomers.
And his hat is awesome. Don't forget that.