Toukiden is the latest game from Tecmo Koei and is their first attempt at making a monster-hunting game.
For the uninitiated, the genre is about fighting an army of lesser monsters and several big monsters alone or with a group of friends, while constantly creating new equipment to take down the biggest and strongest monsters.
Monster-hunting games are typically more popular on handhelds, with very few of the games ever being released for home consoles, which means this is one of the rare opportunities where you can experience something on-the-go that you won’t be able to play elsewhere.
The story for Toukiden is a simple one and extremely clichéd, although with this game the story is used to give a reason for the systems in place in the game rather than as a selling point.
The player takes the role of a new slayer who is assigned to hunting Oni (the monsters of varying shapes and sizes in this game). Sometimes the slayer will have to help fellow slayers overcome certain issues and there are dialogue options, which seem to be there more for humour than anything else.
The cast in the game is likable and surprisingly competent compared to most games which have the option for AI assistance.
Gameplay is combat-based with surprisingly huge variations in the experience depending on which weapon type you choose.
Picking up the game is simple and accessible, allowing newcomers to this type of game an entry point, but with correct utilisation of skills and weapons it is possible to tailor yourself into an unstoppable force.
There are six weapon classes to choose: Sword, spear, bow, gauntlets, chain and sickle and the dual knives (approximately 50 variants of each weapon, which differ in elements, status ailments, attack power and precision).
Doing the tutorial for each weapon is advised as everyone will find a different weapon is best for them. Tactics and gaming experience change drastically depending on the weapon class and I found myself using the dual knives most of the time and occasionally switching to the sword as I found both very fun, whereas my friends would seem to like the other classes.
Different classes have different techniques for taking down the bosses and will all have strengths and weaknesses for certain situations, I personally found the bow difficult to use without other players or AI assistance, but at the same time destroying certain sections of bosses are extremely easy using the bow.
Players can also equip spirits called Mitamas that will boost certain stats or have special effects, there’s more than 200 Mitamas in the game and collecting them all is a feat. There are also different armour sets in the game that you’ll also be changing constantly for the best situations.
A typical mission will involve fighting lots of small enemies on a map, which get bigger throughout the game then eventually fighting a boss (sometimes multiple).
Fighting a large Oni involves destroying the Oni’s limbs, which will grow back, exposing weak points that allow you to damage the boss directly.
The game can be very satisfying when you manage to make a mighty beast fall and that is where a large part of the fun is.
There are around 100 missions in single-player and 150 missions in multiplayer. This might sound off-putting, but all missions are available solo and you can use in-game AI characters or the shadows of your friends and other players you’ve met as the game saves their character data to your system to use as AI. This is a great feature and can help you through tougher situations, This also means you can still experience the game even if you are having difficulty finding players of the same level as you online.
it appears that sometimes you can earn in-game cash when your shadow has been used, but I’m unsure of how this mechanic works as it seemed random.
Constantly upgrading equipment in this game can feel very rewarding as you constantly feel like you are progressing and getting stronger.
Another nice touch for fans of Soul Sacrifice is that a boss from that game has been patched into Toukiden. I don’t recall a free patch on any game I’ve played adding in a feature like this, but it is a great feature and I’d like to see it happen again in future games.
Graphically Toukiden is simplistic, but still one of the nicest looking Vita games I’ve played recently and it really does add to the experience.
Sound and music are appropriate for the game, although I ended up lowering the volume when using party chat on the Vita to hear my team-mates better.
There is a demo available for Toukiden and certainly is a good place to start for anyone curious about the game, the demo allows players to experience early parts of the game, with limited upgrading, inventory slots and money, but all data can be carried over into the main game.
Overall, Toukiden is a great game that offers great value for money with the amount of time you can potentially be playing it.
This is certainly one of the best Vita-exclusive games available and I’ve played it more than any other game on the system. With a demo available for free there’s no excuse to not try the game now, you might just like it.
Toukiden may not be to everyone’s taste, but certainly proves that the Vita can pull off some great games and is really picking up steam this year.
8 out of 10
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