Capcom’s Monster Hunter series has long established a benchmark in a new genre of Monster Hunting games that has been attempted by several developers. There have been obvious failures in the genre but also some degree of success for others. Toukiden is one of these games which has successfully implemented the genre and has made more than enough changes to mold it into its own.
The original Toukiden featured a linear narrative based adventure that also featured a co-op experience. While it wasn’t exactly perfect and had plenty of flaws, it was still a fun game all around and managed to successfully establish itself among other games in similar genre. Koei Tecmo has followed up the success of Toukiden with a sequel, expanding it considerably so it is more of an open world game instead of a linear experience that relies on mission based structure. This has resulted in a sequel that appears to be considerably improved over its predecessor.
Toukiden 2 puts us in the role of a ‘Slayer’ which should be a familiar word for those who have played the original game. In the world of Toukiden, the title ‘Slayer’ is given to the members of an organization of warriors which are tasked with slaying the Oni–demonic creatures hunting the human race. The game begins with the invasion of Oni to the human world leading to a battle between them and the ‘Slayers’. The player here is tasked with defending the Yokohama port from the Oni invasion. This acts as the tutorial area as the game teaches us the basics of the combat system.
Before I dig deeper into the combat system, I want to briefly touch the main character creation for Toukiden 2. The main character is designed by the player and hence its identity is established as the player desires. The character creation in the game is surprisingly good and provides some deep customization options for editing the various aspects of the character. There is also the option to play either as a male or female main character although it doesn’t really have much difference on the narrative. While the game asks for a beginning weapon during the character creation process, there is no restriction here and the player can pick up any other weapon after they pass the tutorial stage.
Once the tutorial is completed, 10 years pass in the story leading to the revelation that the main character has traveled through time by accidentally passing an Oni gate, which allow these demons to freely travel to any era in time. The first chapter begins with us taking control of the main character in a new location called Mahoroba Village. This village serves the purpose as the main hub while offering the player the freedom to explore the open world. The narrative shifts to explaining the mystery around the time travel with the main character leading to the twist that he is cursed while some unknown power is trying to make the character go back through time again. In order to avoid this curse, the player has to establish relationships with some of the key characters in the Mahoroba Village.
The combat in Toukiden 2 involves a variety of weapons including a normal sword, daggers, bow and mace. There is more than enough weapon variety here that the player should feel satisfied. The basics of the combat mostly remain the same with a light attack mixed with a heavy attack serving as the basic of the combat. The addition of a demon hand works well here which looks similar to the ‘devil arm’ of Devil May Cry 4 to me. Its functionality is also the same as it can be used to grab enemies from a distance, or slam them to the ground. The arm can also be used to pull the player across a variety of objects for vertical combat. It adds some depth to the otherwise grounded combat system. The functionality of the hand is also dependent on the Mitama that can be equipped to provide special skills.
As the game allows a party, you can recruit up to 3 different characters that can be used in the battle. This also allows you to improve the relationship with them while giving them commands. There isn’t really much control over how the party members operate in battle aside from giving them the option to combat offensively or defensively by aiding others. They can also help to purify the Oni which is a necessary requirement for gathering resources.
The general combat system has mostly retained its features from the original Toukiden with similar weapons and special moves called Mitama. These are guardian spirits in the world of Toukiden that are based on some key historical figures featuring the likes of Nobunaga Oda and Hideyoshi Toyotomi. These can be unlocked by killing the Oni that have eaten them and equipping these spirits unlocked special skills that can be used in battle. While they are extremely powerful in battle, they have a cooldown meter in addition to limited uses and have to be recharged through shrines located throughout the outposts. They offer an offensive, defensive or recovery advantage in the battle and despite their limited use, can make a tough battle easier.
In term of visuals, the game isn’t exactly a looker. Since it is also developed for the PS Vita, there are obvious technical limitations like the lack of texture quality and terrain variety. Even the monsters aren’t as diverse leading to fights with mostly the same creatures for the majority of the game. However the game does offer a dense open world where the player has full freedom to explore it as he desires. Still the open world can feel barren thanks to its lack of content and while there will be sidequests to undertake, majority of the time is usually spend running from one location to the next with nothing interesting in between to make the journey easier. Unfortunately in term of localization, the game lacks a proper English dub which is a shame to say the least.
Despite its shortcomings and flaws, I still had a great time with Toukiden 2 and enjoyed exploring the open world. However I still feel the open world is unnecessary and if Koei Tecmo focuses on a linear and more coherent experience with the gameplay of Toukiden, they can deliver something special for the fans.
Toukiden 2 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Toukiden 2 is a demon hunting game developed by Omega Force for PlayStation platforms. It is a sequel to Toukiden: The Age of Demons/Toukiden Kiwami. It has been indicated that the game will feature a more continuous open world than the first game in the series.
Toukiden 2 is an open world sequel to the original Toukiden. The game iterates on the monster hunting formula established by its predecessor while offering the players countless hours of fun.