Why hunt monsters when you can slay demons?
The PSP was the platform of choice for the Monster Hunter series for many years, and both Sony and Capcom benefited from their alliance with record sales in Japan.
After the release of the Vita, many were eagerly anticipating a brand new MH title to go along with their shiny new handheld but even now, that has yet to arrive.
In its stead however, were the releases of similar titles like Ragnarok Odyssey, Soul Sacrifice and now, Toukiden.
While Toukiden isn’t the game to out Monster Hunter Monster Hunter itself, it shows great promise as it lays down a promising foundation that easily fills the gap for those waiting for the next big thing.
The story of Toukiden is simple and yet a bit convoluted at the same time. While that may sound like a glaring paradox, it’s the best I can describe it after playing through the storyline.
When a cataclysmic event which is later coined “The Awakening” occurs, Demons appear through a rip in the fabric of space and began devouring everything in sight.
The warriors, armed with a deadly arsenal of weapons, fought back, but most of humanity was pushed to the brink of destruction, and now only a few settlements exist where they live in constant fear.
If the story ended there, it would be simple enough, but there is also an element of time travel and infinite paradoxes where Demons are magically appearing in the past to devour heroes of the past, and the effect that’s having in the present day is all very poorly explained and seemed entirely unnecessary.
There are also a number of NPCs, many of which can be brought along to battle to aid in slaying of demons, and while they all have their own personalities, I didn’t find any of them too compelling as they seemed like a mixed bag of character tropes: the seemingly easy-going, frivolous handsome slayer that hides a deep pain from his past, the uptight, overly serious woman with a strong sense of justice and duty. They’re all characters I’ve seen before, except now with different names.
Luckily, the story is unimportant as the game play takes center stage and shines brightly.
Fight demons, collect their parts, make better equipment with said parts, fight stronger demons, collect their parts, make even better equipment and so on and so forth.
It’s a formula that’s synonymous with the genre, and it is still as addictive as it’s always been.
While there are some side activities to participate in with notable benefits, most of the time spent playing Toukiden is within the battlefield.
Considering how much focus there is on the combat, it’s a good thing that the various mechanics involving slaying demons flow well together.
First, there are the classes of weapons like Fists, Bow, Dual Swords and many more. Each weapon offers a unique style of fighting, and transitioning from one weapon to the next can take a bit of time to get used to.
The Fists are basically massive gauntlets that hit slowly, but with great impact, and it has the ability to charge up and set enemies on fire to make them more vulnerable to subsequent blows. The Fist can also be used to unleash a flurry of increasingly quick blows that ends with a massive shockwave punch on downed/immobile enemies.
The Long Sword has great reach and a moderate attacking speed, but can be used efficiently by canceling moves into each other with the use of a bit of stamina. The player is also able to enchant the blade with a gouge ability that drains stamina over time, but increases attack speed and leaves a “wound” on the demon as it attacks the same body part over and over again. The wounding stacks are activated when the Long Sword is put back in its sheath, and all the hits accumulated slash apart the foe at once in dramatic fashion.
I could go on and on about each weapon and their unique abilities, but I will say that each weapon provides for a different play style, and it won’t take long for players to pick out which one is their favorite after a bit of experimentation.
Given there are no active use items in Toukiden, that void is filled by “Mitama”, which are souls of fallen heroes that were recovered from slaying demons.
Each type of Mitama has four active skills that can be used in combat and three passive skills. The skills can range from simple buffs to damage or defense or even offensive spells that can blow up a limb of a demon in one massive explosion.
The Mitama are slotted into the weapons, and as the number of slots to equip Mitama increases, players are given a good variety of customization in the focus of their character, whether it’d be sustained DPS or all around support/utility.
The weapons, armor and Mitama all level up as more demons are killed, so it behooves the player to try different combinations after they max out their favorite sets.
Unfortunately, while the Mitama is a good idea, the fact that the player is not given any hints of what skills they’re going to get when it levels up is disheartening, and it seems like a big waste of time to try to just level up every Mitama when there are dozens available.
Lastly, while there is a solid multiplayer mode with its own unique missions apart from the single player ones, the way to communicate with other players is quite limited.
The players can pick from a series of set phrases to say, without any options to type anything for themselves, and there is no voice chat option available.
For a title that has a big focus on co-op, it’s weird that they didn’t take advantage of the mic built into the Vita, or even a simple touch pad interface for communicating with your teammates.
Still, when it’s all said and done, Toukiden is a very nice looking game that plays even better(thanks, dual analog stick!). While it doesn’t have the depth of a Monster Hunter game, it builds a great foundation for a potential sequel and due to its accessibility, it’s well worth checking out whether you’re a fan of the genre or not.
Fun Tidbit: The Dual Blades are my current weapon of choice with an agility based Mitama.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.