Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC
Tested on PlayStation 4 Pro
Toukiden 2 – Review
Have you ever dreamed of being a dragon slayer or monster hunter? Wielding special weapons you’ve crafted yourself to topple the mightiest beasts in the lands? Harvesting materials from their fallen corpse to improve your armor and weaponry? Well, since Capcom’s Monster Hunter entered the world of videogames, this dream became almost reality, at least in the virtual world and no longer just inside your head. Monster Hunter was an inspiration for other game studios to embrace this popular genre and add some of their own ideas to the mix. God Eater (Namco Bandai), Lords of Arcana, Final Fantasy Explorers (Square-Enix) and Toukiden (Tecmo Koei) are a few examples. Well, the latter has brought a new chapter in the Toukiden series. After revamping the original Toukiden with a new version, Toukiden Kiwami, they decided it was time for Toukiden 2. And as most of us at the office here are veteran demon/monster hunters, we’re definitely prepared for another adventure in the demon infested lands of Toukiden.
The story takes place 2 years after the events of Toukiden as you’re part of the defensive forces in Yokohama Port. During what history calls ‘The Awakening’, you’re trying to hold back the grand scale Oni-invasion and during a decisive strike of the bulk of the enemy forces, a monstrous oni appears in the sky opening a rift in time and space, pulling you inside in the process. When you wake up, you’re saved by a mysterious woman and her mechanoid partner, who found you in the forest next to their village. The mysterious woman calls herself The Professor and her partner is Tokisugu, a machina with a human soul attached to it. It seems you’ve awakened 10 years after ‘The Awakening’ and find yourself in Mahoroba Village, West of Utakata which was engulfed in a strange power during The Awakening.
Having no clue what really happened during The Awakening and Mahoroba Village being desperately in need of extra Slayers, you decide to stay for the time being, meet with the other Slayers and inhabitants and hope to find an answer to all your questions.
Toukiden 2 doesn’t really offer an extremely strong story but succeeds in telling a compelling one that invites you to play till the end. The different colorful characters with their own hopes and dreams, factions with their daily struggles and conflicts and memorable locations really make the game very appealing and feeling like you’re part of something bigger. Especially as you’ve built your own character and take part in the daily life inside Mahoroba Village, it creates a strong level of involvement and immersion.
If you look at the visuals, Toukiden did a pretty decent job; especially the designs of the characters and most of the locations look really nice and attractive. The characters and the different armors and weapons look awesome and have tight textures. During dialogues, the characters are presented like 2D sprites that seem to be hand drawn/painted and look really good. Especially the mitama you can collect ingame offer pretty amazing artwork to admire. Aside from the iconic large Oni, the smaller ones still look like it was a simple copy paste from the former games with mediocre textures.
Furthermore every location looks great and really comes into its own in the open world mechanic of the game. It isn’t the best we’ve seen but it’s plenty sufficient for this game. The game becomes really impressive during the numerous CGI cut scenes that tie the different chapters throughout the story together.
The soundtrack of Toukiden 2 is a combination of action oriented music with traditional Japanese Oriental music. It fits the setting and the theme of this game perfectly and brings the right kind of vibe during the right moments of the game. Especially when strolling through Maharoba Village, it feels like coming home after a long journey. The voice work is solely in Japanese but accompanied by English subtitles. If you’re not a fan of Japanese audio, then this might be a bit of a turnoff. The majority of the dialogues are voiced except for those you’ll meet in the open world sequence of the game or with limited functionality.
Toukiden 2 is a 3D action adventure with hack ‘n slash elements, that focuses on slaying Oni (monsters) of all sizes in the mythological lands of ancient Japan. At the start of the game, you get to build your own Slayer. There is a comprehensive amount of customization options at your disposal which enables you to build a unique character with no equal. Furthermore you’ll be able to choose its gender, age, voice and his starting weapon. The latter isn’t permanent as you’ll be able to craft and use the other available weapon types in the game. There is a total of 11 weapon types at your disposal, about 2 weapon types more than in the first installment in the series. Toukiden 2 adds the Sword & Shield and the Chain Whip to his arsenal next to the Sword, Chain & Sickle, Spear, Naginata, Rifle, Knives, Club, Bow and the Gauntlets. Both newcomers are fun to play with and add a new layer of ability, skill and tactics to the existing roster.
As mentioned before, as a Slayer, you’ll have to slay the impending threat of invading Oni who roam the different lands surrounding Mahoroba Village. Either you can roam freely in the open world or you can choose/follow the storyline quests to face against all types of Oni. As you slay Oni, you’ll be able to collect Mitama and materials. The Mitama are the souls of heroes who’ve been killed by Oni during the different ages and grant the Slayer unique buffs, support abilities, attack and defensive skills which can be used during combat if you equip a particular Mitama. You can equip up to 3 Mitama according to an attack, support and weaponslot. As you use them in combat, they’ll gain experience, become stronger and learn or improve new abilities which can be equiped in turn.
The materials on the other hand, help you in crafting, upgrading and reforging all kinds of weapons and armor. Most materials depend on which body part you destroy or cut off and the dropping chance will become very low if you fail to destroy that one particular body part. Every kind of Oni grants you unique parts and materials that enable you to make a stronger arsenal that can even add special status or elemental attacks. The only downside is that sometimes a lot of missions will have to be repeated over and over in order to collect the necessary materials needed for the armor or weapon you prefer.Toukiden 2 puts you against multiple Oni types ranging from small, medium to large that each requires different tactics and approach. The balance between the different kinds of Oni is well done and you feel a real difference when you try to take down behemoths like Bladetails or Succuwings, especially when you face off against the massive Orochi, you’ll experience the grandeur of slaying monsters of a massive size.
Combat itself still feels quite sluggish and sometimes hard to aim when in the middle of combat, but overall lacks dynamics. It still shows improvements in comparison with the earlier installments though. Weapon attacks for each kind of weapon have been improved and gained some extra move sets, adding some extra tactical oversight during your attacks. Attacks are divided between light, medium and heavy attacks. The standard attacks are a combination of light and medium attacks. When filling your stamina bar, you can unleash a barrage of light and medium attacks that will continue until your stamina bar is depleted. When your weapon bar is fully charged, you can unleash a heavy attack that can destroy one or more body parts of a large Oni.
One great improvement of combat is the ability to use the Oni (Demon) Hand. This is a device attached to your wrist and calls forth a ghostlike demon hand that can grab items, objects and even Oni. When grabbing the larger Oni during combat, you’ll be able to pull, topple or throw them around and deliver some devastating counter attacks. When using the Demon Hand at the right moment, you can even use the Oni Throw to bring the monster out of balance, stunning him for a short amount of time and deliver a serious beating. And lastly when charging the spirit meter of your Demon Hand, you’ll be able to use an extremely powerful attack called the Oni Burial. This will completely destroy the life force of a particular body part, which the Oni will be unable to recover. The Demon Hand adds extra attack options that can make a difference in battling against the larger types of Oni. It’s fun to use and makes the combat feel more diverse in combination with the extensive basic attacks but alas it can be a real pain in the ass to control or aim the Demon Hand. You need to focus on aiming on certain critical parts, control the camera and keep an oversight over the situation at the same time. Luckily the Demon Hand has its uses outside of combat too, especially for moving to certain points on the map or destroying special obstacles that block your path on the map.
When picking up quests for either slaying Oni or gathering resources, you can choose to either take on these quests on your own, with AI partners you meet in game or play with friends through online co-op. When slaying the Oni with AI partners, it can help you get through the tougher fights in singleplayer but it can be hard to keep control over the battle as they move on their own and decide their own attacks and tactics. This can be a nuisance when aiming to collect certain materials that can only obtained when destroying particular body parts from a single large Oni, for example the horn of a Bladetail. When AI partners go on an attack frenzy, the situation becomes chaotic and they take down the Oni before you can destroy the target body part, this can become very frustrating. Playing that particular quest alone or playing it together with players online, might solve that issue but it’s a pity.
Toukiden 2 delivers, safe for a few imperfections, a great monster hunting game accompanied with a compelling and inviting storyline. It doesn’t really grow repetitive over time as the main story quests are intertwined in the storyline, and it feels like everything has a purpose. It’s a game that will definitely appeal to fans of monster hunting games and action roleplaying games in general. The game is accessible for every new player and we’re convinced that it will deliver multiple hours of fun. And it really becomes especially fun when playing together with friends online. So if you’re looking for a great action adventure with fantasy and Japanese mythological elements, then Toukiden 2 might be right up your alley.