With the Monster Hunter series now on Nintendo consoles, there is a big hole for other hunter games to make their claim on Playstation console, namely the Vita. With several games/ports under their belt for the Vita, Tecmo Koei thought it was about time to develop an original IP as their next Vita game. Thus Toukiden: The Age of Demons.
With Omega Force, the team behind Dynasty Warriors, and members of Team Ninja working on the game, will Toukiden be their answer to Monster Hunter or be another wannabe like Quantum Theory was like to Gears of War?
Decent Story for a Hunter Game - A problem that I have with some hunter games (including Monster Hunter) is that they don't really flesh out the story much. We don’t get to know the village that is housing us or the people who live there. We don’t who our fellow hunters are or even learn as to why we are hunting monsters in the first place. Toukiden manages to flesh out a story about the game.
Eight years ago a great and powerful oni awoke and started to cause destruction across the land. You are Slayer from the east who has been sent to help the village of Utakata. Once in the village you learn from the head Slayer in charge that the village is not only at the frontlines of the war with the oni, but is also the last line of defense. We also learn that you have a special ability that lets you communicate with fallen warriors and harness their power against the oni. We get to know each of the Slayers, learn what makes them tick and even befriend them.
These things may sound like common place in RPGs, but to be in a hunter style game is a really nice change from “go find monster, attack, try not to die.”
Unique Take on Japanese Mythical Creatures as Enemies - As much as I like the monster design of Monster Hunter, I think it’s starting to get a bit repetitive to hunt dinosaur-like creatures, dragon-like creatures, mammal-like creatures and so on. When game devs turn to a culture’s mythology, it can result in some really cool looking enemy creatures. And lucky for Omega Force, Japan is filled to the brim with mythological creatures that span different eras of the country’s ancient/medieval history. If you thought a creature like the oni already look exaggerated enough, Omega Force takes those looks and pushes them further. This results in a hideous yet cool looking range of monsters to fight.
Character Models/Graphics Nicely Detailed - Both Team Ninja and Omega Force had plenty of the experience with the Vita since each team have released games for the system. Now with their combined forces, the characters models and graphics are very nicely detailed. From the detailed armors of the Slayers and the surrounding building to the skins of the monsters, everything in the game has been carefully designed and made to pop off the screen. Especially with the monsters. I’ve seen spider monsters, I’ve seen cat monsters, but put the two together and you have one really cool yet hideous creature.
Mitama Adds Layer of Depth to Weapons/Gameplay - Instead of having traditional magic, Toukiden gives us Mitama. Mitama are the spirits of fallen warriors that have been captured by oni. Once they are free, these warriors stand with you to fight the oni by providing support magic for you to use. Each Mitama has a different attribute and gives different support magic which gives you different play styles. This is feels almost a bit like an MMO with different Mitama giving different roles.
4-Player Co-Op Options - The most important part of a hunter game is the multiplayer. In most games, the co-op missions are separate from the main story missions. With Toukiden, you are able to complete both the story missions and a separate group of missions that were made with multiplayer in mind. The developers also threw in the options of infrastructure (i.e. online) and ad hoc multiplayer, unlike other hunter games.
Combat is Combo Based and Feels So Good - At first I thought the combat for Toukiden was going to be similar to Dynasty Warriors. To my surprise it’s not the button mashfest that Dynasty Warriors. Instead of flailing around, attacks are combo based which mean you have to plan your button presses carefully in order to get the most out of the attack. This gives attacks more weight to them and make you feel like you’re the Slayer swinging around a giant pair of gauntlets.
Long Demo - It’s been a rising trend in hunter games for developers to give an extended demo to players. Omega Force raises the bar in what demos offer. If you are not sure if Toukiden isn’t the game for you but you still curious about the game, I recommend downloading the demo and be prepared for a big surprise. Instead of only giving players access to a section of the game or giving a time limited, the Toukiden demo gives players access to the entire first chapter of the game, the first six of twelve missions in chapter two, seven multiplayer missions and allows you to carry over your character to the full retail game. This totals to between seven and ten hours of content. And this is just a demo. More games, at least the hunter games, should follow this model as it could bring in more sales.
AS UGLY AS AN TENGU'S NOSE
Borrows Too Much from Other Games - While I understand that getting inspiration from other games is the norm, I feel that Toukiden borrows a bit too much from other games. One example of this is a function called the Eye of Truth. This is too similar to the function that Soul Sacrifice uses. That function is that it allows players to see monster’s health and other hidden items. I also think that Toukiden took their map structure from Monster Hunter or Ragnarok Odyssey. I’m not saying that taking inspiration from other games is bad, it just makes me think about those games and not Toukiden.
Toukiden: The Age of Demons takes the hunter formula established from previous games makes it their own. By adding a story that fleshing out you as a Slayer, a unique take on Japanese mythological monsters, and Mitama adding to the combo filled combat really places you in the armor of a Slayer. Toukiden’s multiplayer offerings are some of the strongest that I’ve played for a hunter game, with the game actually given players a choice to either go online or play locally through ad hoc.
I just wished that it didn’t borrow so much from other hunter games. Despite that if you are looking for a substitute to Monster Hunter and uses Japanese mythological creatures, pick up Toukiden. Or at the very least download the demo that has 10 hours worth of content to play with.
*This review was based on the PS Vita version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.