|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: Omega Force|
|Pub: Koei Tecmo|
|Release: March 31, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||Alcohol Reference, Blood and Gore, Mild Suggestive Themes, Partial Nudity, Violence|
by Jenni Lada
Toukiden: The Age of Demons was something of a surprise. When you hear about Monster Hunter-like games, there's always a sense of trepidation. Will they successfully mimic the formula? Could the gameplay be compelling enough to not only keep a person coming back to play, but also sustain a community for a decent amount of time? Toukiden managed to succeed on both counts, though the multiplayer did eventually slow, and now is getting a round two of sorts with Toukiden: Kiwami for the PS4 and Vita.
If you're heartbroken over the lack of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on PlayStation consoles, Toukiden: Kiwami could prove to be the perfect title for you. Especially since this is one of those two-in-one cases. You're getting the original Toukiden: The Age of Demons, as well as an entirely new, full-length sequel set three months after the end of the first game. This means people who have already gone through the adventure once on the handheld can pick right up with the new content, while those new to Toukiden's world get a fresh start with an epic, Oni-slaughtering adventure head of them.
While Monster Hunter comes across as a game inspired by multiple cultures, Toukiden: Kiwami draws every inspiration from Japan. The culture and folklore all come together to set the stage for Nakatsu Kuni, the mythical version of Japan in which the game is set. Demons, known as Oni, stalk the land, and only disciplined, dedicated Slayers called mononofu are capable of holding them back and defeating them. Eight years ago, a fearsome Oni came into the world, humanity barely survived, and now it's looking more like additional fearsome foes are waiting for their moment. The player is a novice Slayer, and comes to Utakata Village to fight the good fight along new-found brothers and sisters.
Yes, there are comrades in arms in the Toukiden games, one of the marked differences from Monster Hunter. If you are unable to find people to venture into the wilds with online, NPCs can be added to your party. The original Toukiden had six extra people ready to hunt with you, and Toukiden: Kiwami adds Souma, Reki, Horou, and Rinne. I know I appreciated this feature when playing Toukiden: The Age of Demons on my Vita. There never seemed to be enough people online and the virtual companions could be quite capable.
You really start to feel like you're part of a team in Toukiden. The party members have personal quests, and completing them will improve the relationship between the player's avatar and them. Get along well enough, and you'll be able to forge a version of their weapon for your own character. It might also mean getting to share a bath with them in the bathhouse, which will provide a buff in the battle ahead.
It's quite a big help, considering the hordes of Oni you'll face. With Toukiden: Kiwami, an additional adventure sees another force of foes coming, with new refugees arriving to aid in the fight. (Hence the four extra slayers.) It also boosts the options for fighting such foes. Toukiden: The Age of Demons allowed players to use long swords, gauntlets, twin blades, bows, kusarigamas, and spears to fight enemies, allowing people to use crush, slash, and thrust attacks to strategically assault foes. A Dynasty Warriors-style combo system allows people to chain together square and triangle button presses to execute elaborate combos. Toukiden: Kiwami offers additional options by having naginatas, rifles, and spiked clubs in the arsenal.
Another boon and Toukiden-exclusive is the Mitama system. The monsters players are facing are lethal. People die, but if they're strong enough, their souls will live on. If a player happens to free one of these souls from the Oni that killed and ate them, then they can "live" on again as spirits called Mitama. Slayers can communicate with these Mitama, and of course the player's avatar is one of the few people that can use multiple Mitama. Equipping one grants players skills, and leveling one up provides more special abilities to aid in battle. More Mitama are added in Toukiden: Kiwami. You'll even have access to Mitama biographies, so you'll know who you're "working" with. The level cap has gone up to 12, which is helpful seeing as the number of Oni and missions has gone up.
There's one more companion that will give you an edge, and naturally it's a mascot character. You'll get a creature called a Tenko, which looks like a little fox. You'll send it off to find treasure before heading out on missions, and will come back to the valuables or materials it has found. Each excursion might change the Tenko's color, which affects the rarity of items found on the subsequent trip. It was a useful bonus in Toukiden: The Age of Demons, but is even more helpful in Toukiden: Kiwami, as the Tenko gains the ability to also equip a Mitama. Should you send it to the same area your character is exploring, it might follow your party and use its Mitama's skills on you.
I know this all sounds exciting, but there's one more element to consider. Toukiden: Kiwami is a multiplayer title. If you feel like fighting, either with friends or strangers, you can. In fact, this installment even allows people to use cooperative moves against opponents, where everyone joins together for a devastating attack. It should prove quite helpful when hopping online to fight monsters you can't handle alone. It has cross-play and cross-save functionality, so you'll hopefully never have to be alone unless you want to.
Toukiden: Kiwami should prove to be quite an experience in a few months. Whether you're just stepping into the shoes of a Slayer or have helped defend Nakatsu Kuni before, you'll have ample opportunity to prove yourself invaluable. The Oni are waiting, and you look like you're ready to become a legend.
Date: February 16, 2015