Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei/ Tecmo
Release Date: 03/31/15
Many titles have come out in attempts to capitalize on the success of Capcom’s popular Monster Hunter franchise of games. Originally released last year on the Playstation Vita, Toukiden: The Age of Demons was Tecmo Koei’s admirable attempt at replicating Capcom’s effective game formula. Switching out the the traditional monsters for terrifying Japanese style demons, I found the original Toukiden one the finest Monster Hunter alternatives I’ve played to date, so I was excited to not only see the game’s nightmarish demons on the big screen with this PS4 version, but also to see what new additional content was added on in this new reworking.
Toukiden: Kiwami is set against the backdrop of a world ravaged by the terrible “Oni,” demons typical of Japanese mythology that have appeared through a gateway from Hell to consume the souls of the living, and distort the time and space they reside in. Your custom created character makes their appearance eight years after the initial Oni attack, and enlists themselves as a an Oni slayer in a small village that exists as your base of operations. The Oni are still a sizable threat, and it’s your job along with the other NPC character slayers to defeat as many Oni as possible in attempts to keep the village safe. Unlike most games of its type, Toukiden: Kiwami does a good job telling a compelling story, and the cast of characters are all uniquely fleshed out and have their own in depth back stories. Rather than just having “X monster needs to be destroyed because reasons,” the game follows a solid narrative rhythm throughout and actually provides reasonable motivation behind the slaying the Oni. There is plenty of character development as well, which is definitely a rarity, if not an exclusivity in one of these kinds of games. Toukiden: Kiwami starts with the original Age of Demons storyline, but has a handy feature that allows you to import your PSVita save data over to the PS4 version of Kiwami, that will allow you to continue where you left off, or, if you happened to complete the five Age of Demons story chapters, jump right into the sizable Kiwami add on content. Kiwami offers a handful of new NPC characters, each with their own story arcs, several new giant Oni to slay, and two new weapons types.
At its core, the gameplay in Toukiden: Kiwami is essentially very similar to Capcom’s Monster Hunter games, but with some very distinct differences. Firstly, unlike Monster Hunter‘s common game of strategic cat and mouse, carefully landing blows or shots and evading, Toukiden takes on a more hack and slash approach to slaying the giant Oni herein. Evasion still plays a critical part, but it’s less of a concern here, as the giant Oni take a lot of damage to take out, and landing blows fills up a special attack meter that allows you to execute a powerful strike. It’s also less of a concern, as typically you’ll be going on missions with up to three other expertly AI’d NPC teammates who will be pummeling the monster right along side you. While you still have only three tries to complete the mission, like Monster Hunter, if you happen to get knocked out by an Oni, your NPC teammates will rush to revive you. So long as they are successful, which they usually are, you can keep on fighting without penalty. In turn, your teammates can be resuscitated the same way.
To take out a giant Oni, you first have to break apart its outer form, which is how it appears in the material world. By doing this, you’ll hack limbs from the Oni once a specific parts takes significant damage, and reveal the phantom like “real Oni”, which by attacking further will deal real damage to the monster. Hacking a limb off usually leaves it on the battlefield, and you can collect it by holding down the R1 button; these, along with various items that can be found in the environment, are how you craft your various weapons and armor pieces in Toukiden, again, like Monster Hunter. The Oni monsters themselves are often large and terrifying in their appearance, and in my opinion, can give most of the bestiary in Monster Hunter a run for it’s money in the “scary looking creature” dept.
Toukiden does away with traditional items in favor for their “Mitama system”. A Mitama is the released soul of a renowned hero swallowed by the Oni. This also gives Koei their chance to add a little history into the game, as per usual, since most of the Mitama are based on actual people of note from Japanese history. You can equip Mitama to use their abilities, which vary from the considerable amount there are to collect. Each Mitama has four abilities, and most will have the “recovery” skill, which restores a portion of your health bar. From there, abilities can range from a temporary attack boost, to a magic missile, to even the likes of a warp that moves you around the battlefield in a flash. By using the Mitama in battle or by spending money to do so, you can gain new skills and improve existing ones. Given the large number of Mitama that are available, this makes the options to use when going into battle quite large. It’s an interesting feature that is well implemented, and definitely stands out from similar games.
Toukiden: Kiwami offers a multiplayer online feature that supports up to four players, and while the experience was just as fun as the single player, one doesn’t have access to their single player resources in the online mode, such as your little animal critter you can send out before battle to collect environmental items, and the guardian tree you spend money on for random items. The blacksmith that creates and upgrades weapons and armor is absent in multiplayer as well, which is quite confusing, since you’ll need to leave every time you want to do anything.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Toukiden: Kiwami is a great add-on to a great game. Those looking for an alternative to Monster Hunter, or more monster hunting action, need look no further than this game’s ferociously fast and satisfying demon slaying bag of goodies. Toukiden: Kiwami offers enough new content to justify picking it back up, and even offers what you might have missed if you never played the original Age of Demons. The multiplayer mode is missing some key elements available in the single player game, but besides that, Toukiden: Kiwami is great fun, and it’s always interesting to see what Omega Force can do outside of Dynasty Warriors.