By Adam Reese / April 22nd, 2015
|Release Date||March 31, 2015|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, Vita|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Teen|
With the release of Monster Hunter in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, Capcom struck gold on a unique style of gear-based multiplayer action that scored them a very loyal fandom and a franchise that has lasted to this very day. Seeing this, a lot of game developers wanted a piece of the pie, and so many clones started to flood the market.
Omega Force, developers of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, tried their hand at this with Toukiden: Age of Demons, released for the PlayStation Portable and Vita in Japan in 2013. Featuring more fast-paced gameplay than its inspiration, as well as a few user-friendly gameplay designs, it’s no surprise given the popularity of Monster Hunter and the lack of an entry on the Vita, it became the top-selling Japanese Vita game in 2013.
A Western release would follow in February the following year. Given the trend of releasing enhanced ports of Vita titles on consoles, Toukiden: Kiwami was announced in April and given a release date in August, and, the following month, a Western release was announced. The game arrived here in late March of this year. With all of that said, let’s talk about Kiwami.
Set in a fantasy world heavily inspired by medieval Japan, things have taken a turn for the bleak. Eight years before our story begins, a powerful oni materialized from the Underworld and opened the gate leading to it. This event, called the “Awakening,” wiped out most of mankind, leaving only a few villages protected by magical barriers and led under a governing body named the Holy Mount.
After creating your character, our hero arrives from the east under orders from the Holy Mount to join the front-lines at Utakata Village and help put a stop to the oni menace. Along the way, you will befriend several fellow warriors, get to know their motivations and personalities and hopefully, together, you can make things normal again in the world.
Along with taking care of the oni menace, there is a large series of side missions that involve villagers or fellow Slayers asking for your assistance in either gathering materials or killing particular oni. For completionists such as myself, trying to do everything thrown at you by the game will easily add several dozens of hours onto your total game time.
When it comes to the gameplay, it’s easy to see Omega Force using their past history with other action games. Most of the combat animations certainly nice, but you’re usually committed to each attack when you hit the button. Whenever you’re knocked away by a strike by an oni, you can quickly regain your footing with a press of a button towards the end of your spiraling knock-back, letting you get back into the fight without having to waste time pulling yourself back up. These things combined allow you suitable control over your character, but also keeps combat fast-paced.
Unlike other Monster Hunter-like games, Toukiden features a lock-on targeting mechanic. Due to its oft-erratic nature and how it would often fail to activate, I reserved it only for the large oni. However, even this proved troublesome. With the ability to lock onto certain parts of the large oni, many times I would attempt to target a wing, only for the oni to suddenly move and I’d end up targeting an arm.
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