Demon slaying is never an easy task, and it becomes even more difficult when you run like a robot and can only swing your weapon in three distinct ways. Still, for the people of the Midlands, the last bastion of human kind, killing Oni (Japanese for demon) is just part of everyday life. In Toukiden: The Age of Demons, you’re the new recruit, and it’ll be your job to take down some of the biggest monsters in the world.
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a new Dynasty Warriors spin-off. The character design and visual style reveal quickly that this is an Omega Force/Koei game, but the style of play might be a little unusual to those of us that love the Warriors games. Don’t be mistaken though, there are huge differences. The way the characters move is less fluid and you’re locked into attacking in a certain way. The enemies aren’t necessarily harder than in Dynasty Warriors, but they’re not as easy to hit and they last longer.
No, Toukiden is a Monster Hunter clone first and foremost, and recognizable character design (or even a dip into Japanese history) isn’t enough to change that. The Oni come in many different varieties, and each one will attack in slightly different ways. Dodging and attacking at the right time is more important than randomly hitting buttons, although Toukiden makes learning the ropes incredibly simple. When you die, it’s because you suck, or because you tried to rush things.
In that regard, this is a perfectly balanced game. The Oni that you’ll face are tough – even the smallest of them take several hits to properly dispose of. Then, on the other end of the scale are massive monsters, some in the vein of those we’ve seen in games like Shadow of the Colossus, tough to take down and with the ability to throw out massive damage quickly and accurately. You’ll need a lot of time to defeat them and less patient gamers might grow bored rather quickly. A boss fight can take ages to beat and you’ll need to carefully choose when to use certain abilities.
Taking down one of the huge Oni feels fantastic, but it’s never like you’ve had much of a direct part in its downfall. You can bash enemies with something sharp and pointy, but that’s about it. Aiming is a hit and miss affair for the most part and you’ll often find that your weapon will literally go through an enemy without causing much in the way of damage. That’s no surprise though as it’s not unusual for one thing to go through another in this game. Nothing seems especially affected by anything else and it’s not unusual to find yourself fighting something stuck on a rock.
When you take down one of the bigger Onis, you’ll probably unlock a Mitama, which grant you various abilities. Mitamas are the souls of Japanese warriors, many of whom you’ll recognize if you’ve ever played Samurai Warriors. In fact, even the levels you’ll explore while performing your role as an Oni Hunter are based on various parts of Japanese history, a fact that means you’ll be exploring both lush forestland with pirate ships and deep canyons with feudal castles. It’s an interesting design, and one that means areas don’t quickly become dull.
Toukiden is a game about grinding, finding treasure and building better weapons. Not only will levels last relatively long for a mobile title, but you’ll also have to replay them. There are a good number of chapters and stages to look at, with some nice variety in there as well. Really, the amount of content on offer outweighs the cost. That’s not to say that the basic idea doesn’t get repetitive – it does – but those that love Monster Hunter will likely find little to complain about here.
And that’s Toukiden‘s biggest strength and weakness. It’s a very strong Monster Hunter clone and little more. It’s charming enough and easy to pick up, but its story and world appear shallow and uninteresting. Still, if you’re a fan of this type of gameplay/genre you should find enough to enjoy here.
This review is based on the Vita exclusive, which we were provided with.
For fans of the genre, Toukiden is a nice time-waster for the Vita. It's well made, with few faults outside of its inability to shake things up.