For all those nay-sayers out there that claim that the PlayStation Vita doesn’t have anything to get excited about, this is definitely the year to stand up and pay attention. We’ve already seen a slew of downloadable games hit the PlayStation Network, and now the big RPG releases are starting to roll in, starting with Toukiden. Toukiden takes the multiplayer handheld gap in the Vita’s library and fills it with a rich story and a great overall presentation. If you played Monster Hunter and you want something mechanically like it, but exclusive to the Vita, this is going to take a dominant place in your Vita library. Even if you are just a regular RPG fan, this is a game you are going to want to take a look at.
Toukiden takes place in a Japanese mythology-inspired setting where Oni (or demons in English) have flooded the land and destroyed everything in its path. There is one remaining stronghold that is protected by a group of people called Slayers. These Slayers battle the Oni and purify their souls, restoring all the damage the Oni did in its life. As the player, it is up to you to create your character and join the ranks of the slayers. While there, you will take on missions to clear land conquered by the Oni and take on some of its larger constituents.
From a gameplay perspective, Toukiden plays almost exactly like Monster Hunter. The game is viewed through a 3rd person perspective, you run out looking for specific Oni to kill and you bring back the spoils to upgrade and bolster your character. There is a robust weapon crafting system that allows you to change the attributes of your gear with the material you bring back to the camp. By bringing your equipment and spoils to the blacksmith, you can experiment with adding new stats to your weapons. After you defeat certain enemies, you can free fallen warriors from the Oni’s grasp called Mitama. Once liberated, the fallen warrior’s soul will infuse with yours giving your weapons special abilities like increased attack speed or status effect damage. As you can tell, there are plenty of new and interesting ways to level up your character and get them ready for battle. However, finding the most effective way to dispose of your enemies is up to you.
The missions in the game range from a few minutes to almost an hour depending on equipment, skills and character development. The objectives can range from killing a certain number of enemies to taking on a “boss” Oni which requires a different strategy altogether. To be successful in the game, you must find the balance between improving your skills and grinding for the items you need. However, Toukiden has the advantage of having an actual narrative to the story. You don’t just battle to get better, you battle for an in-game purpose which makes it more interesting for those looking for more than a grindfest. While the story isn’t going to win any awards, having anything at all is a step in the right direction.
One of the strengths of Toukiden, and arguably the reason you need to get this game, is the online multiplayer. You can bring in your friends over the web to join your game and slay Oni. The system works great and allows players to drop-in and drop-out at will. You can also start missions with AI companions that do a fairly good job without the need of babysitting. We all know that AI companions can be a loose cannon at times, but Toukiden did a great job at balancing their style of play and making sure they are helpful without hindering your progress. While is seems crazy to say that this feature has been overlooked in a system that’s been out for a while now, that is the unfortunate truth about the Vita. If anyone wanted to play an action RPG with their freinds, they had to resort to playing Monster Hunter Freedom on the PSP. However, it’s a great thing to finally have a viable option on the Vita and players can finally get their action RPG fix on the go.
Another strong design element were the graphics themselves. Toukiden looks amazing with interesting uses of color and animation to deliver a unique look and feel to the game. The overall style of the game resembles a Japanese Sumi-e painting with muted tones and a zen-like atmosphere. However, the Onis coloring pops against the background making it easier to see and more impressive to fight. When you combine this with the fact that the game runs smoothly and seamlessly, you have the elements present for a great game.
The only problem with the game, and this is entirely dependent on your gaming preferences, is the repetitive nature of the game. Once you unlock all the abilities, the game starts to play the same way over and over again. While this may not bother some gamers, newcomers to the series may be turned off by grinding out levels and materials to get to new areas of the game. While the story and the multiplayer can drown out some of the monotony, it is still present and it is something to consider before diving in headfirst.
Overall, Toukiden is an excellent action RPG. There is plenty to do, the game is beautiful and it has a great co-op, multiplayer system. While the game doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is trying to appeal to the Monster Hunter crowd, it still plugs a giant hole in the Vita’s library and makes the handheld more appealing to buy. If you are into Monster Hunter, or if you just enjoy action RPGs, this game is going to appeal to you, as long as you don’t mind some grinding once in a while. Therefore, we highly recommend this title, especially groups of friends that want to tackle an RPG together.
This review is based on a review copy of Toukiden: The Age of Demons, developed by Omega Force published by Tecmo Koei
- Beautiful Visuals
- Repetitive Gameplay