When talking about Toukiden, it is nearly impossible not to bring up comparisons with the series that kicked off the entire genre based solely on killing larger than life monsters, Monster Hunter. While the premise of both games seem the same on the surface, Toukiden Kiwami distinguishes itself by its influence from Japanese mythology.
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Toukiden: Kiwami is the sequel and expansion of the story. The story of Kiwami takes place three months after where the the original game left off, although new players can play the story from the beginning.
While Monster Hunter had the benefit of multiple iterations to better the monster designs and gameplay experience, Toukiden trumped their competitors in one key aspect, the storyline. With a rich back story, clear vision in terms of character and monster design, and setting, Toukiden: Kiwami, at its core is a cohesive experience for the player. Contextualizing each battle, making players feel as if each battle were something meaningful and not just hunting for the fun of it.
In a world decimated by Demons called ‘Oni’, players must once again takes up the mantle of a Slayer, or Demon Hunter, whose just is to rid the world of the Oni by cutting them down. As players progress through the game, they will discover the rich back story behind each character through conversations and core storyline itself.
I got my hands on the original Age of Demons game about a year ago, I was intrigued by the storyline that the game provided and while the original story had ended with no real loopholes, the expansion on the storyline was a welcome one. Also, the ability to port my saved data from Age of Demons saved me tons of time, not to mention the bonus items given as part of a rewards package.
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At its core, the gameplay is simple, select a mission where you have to hunt X amount of smaller monsters, or a big bad one, hack off its limbs, loot the parts to make new equipment, rinse and repeat. As simple as the gameplay might seem, the myriad of equipment with a solid looting system will add longevity to the game.
Together with the AI controlled Slayers with whom you will form bonds with throughout the game, the Slayer’s innate ability to see which parts of an Oni can be lopped off is a great help to players, and will prove to be an essential part of your hunting experience. Not only would you be able to know which parts can be cut off, the part’s durability is also color coded so players can see how much more damage they will have to deal to the different parts before they can be harvested. Be warned though, cutting these parts will not cripple the Oni too much as limbs will still regrow their body parts albeit in a phantom state, they can also reabsorb these parts if the player or the AI party do not harvest the parts in time.
Body parts are not the only thing that players will get to harvest on their adventures, Mitama, or warrior spirits, which have been consumed by the Oni will also drop when players defeats it. Some Mitama are dropped at key points of the storyline, while others are dropped by random Oni, both big and small. These Mitama, based on historic Japanese figures, are slotted into weapons to give the player a boost while battling the Oni. From attack buffs, to healing fields the boosts are based on the Mitama’s type and specialty. These Mitama can easily be swapped around when the player is preparing for a mission.
Unlike Monster Hunter where the entire map is open for players to explore almost all the time, on missions Toukiden has limited the exploration portion of the game, often only allowing players to visit one section of the battlefield during a mission. This is largely seen when players in encountering an Oni for the first time, after starting out at base camp, players walks though a portal that will take him or her, to face the Oni in question, the area is then sealed off until the it is defeated. During these first encounters however, the Oni is usually fighting alone and it provides players with a safer environment in which to learn how to fight it, easing out what might otherwise be a very sharp learning curve. After a while, the Oni’s attack do get a bit predicable, and should be something that is improved upon if there is a new Toukiden game in the works.
The complex inventory system in Toukiden, much like the one in Monster Hunter is a way for the players to acquire loot while out hunting. However, there is no limit to the number of things you can carry while on a mission, and you can effectively clear out an entire battlefield if it is open for exploration, before you attempt to complete your mission.
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Grinding is an essential part of games like this and while Monster Hunter forced many players to kill a single monster multiple times for the parts they need for new equipment, Toukiden Kiwami has significantly reduced the number of times players have to grind to get a certain equipment set, it remains, however, a core part of the gameplay.
With their attention to detail and love for Japanese heritage, Omega Force has done themselves justice if they are looking transform the Toukiden franchise to be more than just a Monster Hunter clone. From the landscapes to the twin-tailed Tenkos, Toukiden is yet another testament to Omega Force’s attention to detail when it comes to history and culture, an aspect where the company has traditionally excelled at.
All in all, this game is more than a stopgap for players wanting that monster hunter experience on the PlayStation Vita or PlayStation 4. If you picked up the original on PS Vita, or if you don’t have a 3DS and really want to go monster hunting, I highly recommend getting this expansion.
To whet your appetite, Koei has released an anime trailer to promote the release of the game.
Game at a Glance:
Title: Toukiden Kiwami
Players: 1 on a single device, Up to 4
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Techmo
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita (Reviewed)
Release Dates: 31st March 2015(NA), 27th March 2015(EU)
Combat is highly entertaining
Limited area to explore while on some missions
Monster AI tends to get predictable
Recommended? – YES!