Toukiden: The Age of Demons (PS Vita) Review

By Az Elias 10.03.2014

Review for Toukiden: The Age of Demons on PS Vita

The biggest, most popular hunting game series—Capcom's Monster Hunter—has flitted back and forth between Sony and Nintendo platforms, but the mainline series has been more recently confined to the Nintendo 3DS. Seeing the potential for PS Vita owners to get in on some hunting action, Tecmo Koei has been honest enough to admit that making Toukiden: The Age of Demons was due to recent Monster Hunter entries releasing on Nintendo's handheld, instead of Sony's. Toukiden has already seen big success in its home market of Japan, proving what a good decision it was, and now, Western hunters can sharpen their swords, arrows and spears to slay giant demons, too.

Toukiden is Tecmo Koei's first foray into the hunting action RPG genre, with one of the company's subsidiaries—Omega Force, of Dynasty Warriors fame—taking the reins. It will be familiar ground for experienced hunting game players, with a main character being built from scratch after starting the game; choose the gender and pretty hairstyles to create the ideal hunter, and it's off to slay some demons.

That's right, demons—or rather, Oni—are the prey in Toukiden, instead of beasts and dragons in similar games. As far as the backstory goes, for a thousand years, a secretive group of strong-willed warriors known as Slayers have been fighting and protecting the world from these supernatural beings hailing from the Otherworld, but after an event known as the Awakening occurred eight years ago, where a huge number of Oni were unleashed unto the world, destroying towns and warping time itself, mankind was almost lost. With survivors still managing to hold together since that fateful time, now the Slayers vow to finally put an end to the demon onslaught.

Screenshot for Toukiden: The Age of Demons on PS Vita

As a new Slayer in Utakata Village, the job is to set about tackling small missions to eradicate numbers of Oni, or a particular large one in the area, within the time limit. A variety of weapon types are available—long swords, bows, gauntlets, flails and sickles, and more. These all have very distinctive combat styles, with some slower and stronger, others faster and weaker, others allowing for distant hits, and others making for aerial combat with flashy moves. Elements added on top of these mean enemies have a lot to be weak and strong against, so, of course, creating multiple setups for each Oni is a key factor of the gameplay.

Fighting the large Oni—essentially the bosses—is where Toukiden comes to life, though. These giant demons, that come in many different forms—some resembling hideous takes on spiders, ogres, snakes, wolves and birds—can take up to half an hour alone to kill at times. Using a special ability that Slayers possess—The Eye of Truth—a quick tap of the screen highlights the weak points of the large Oni, such as its legs, arms, or other distinct areas. Breaking these parts off will reveal the life force hiding underneath, which can then be attacked to drain its overall health. The broken off body part must be collected with the Ritual of Purification ability, which forces the player to stop moving and wait whilst the remains are banished. This is an important part of defeating Oni, because, not only does collecting Oni parts mean being able to forge the best weapons, but it also means that the demon cannot regenerate that specific part of its body again during the fight.

Screenshot for Toukiden: The Age of Demons on PS Vita

Being able to choose up to three AI characters to help out makes battles easier, and the simplicity in terms of battle mechanics itself is one of Toukiden's strong points. Even for someone new to hunting games, Toukiden can be gotten to grips with very early on, but it will quickly become apparent that relying on the same weapons will not always work. Switching weapon types and crafting better ones with specific elements implemented will be the only way anyone will make it past some of the later Oni.

There is also another mechanic that plays a huge role in defining how successful every mission plays out. Mitama are the souls of legendary Japanese heroes and warriors that have been engulfed and trapped inside Oni beings, and can be recovered upon defeating certain ones. With each mitama falling into a category, including Attack, Healing and Defence, they can be equipped to offer boosts and skills that can be used in battle. Combining multiple mitama makes way for big variation, and this, on top of the weapon sets that can be produced, is where the depth of Toukiden's character customisation lies. Experimentation is primal to see what works best, and once this side of the game is explored further, Toukiden becomes a lot of fun to play, and far more satisfying—especially after a large Oni that once gave a struggle then goes down in a matter of minutes after finding a new setup.

What is quickly noticeable about Toukiden is the repeated use of Oni, whether large or small. In particular, these same bosses are required to be killed often in many missions even early on, meaning the lengthy fights against them can become a bit of a chore. This is only made worse when sticking to the same weapons and setups, so it's doubly important not to fall into that trap, for those new to this type of game. The optional quests only consist of obtaining materials that can be picked up during missions, so that is unlikely to really offer any thrill, either.

Screenshot for Toukiden: The Age of Demons on PS Vita

This is what can play a factor in determining whether someone that hasn't played a hunting RPG before will be able to stick with it. Toukiden demands a considerable amount of time to be put into it to get the best out of it, too. Thankfully, the story provides a good reason to keep going, even if it does feel like there could have been more character development, but it helps make tackling each mission worthwhile. Playing online also provides another attraction, which is an area this sort of game thrives in, with friends being able to group together to take down Oni in groups. This part of the game is definitely one of the most appealing aspects of Toukiden, and future downloadable missions, including some collaborative DLC with Soul Sacrifice, should keep players occupied long after the main missions have been completed. Sadly, limited communication options are a setback.

Everything mentioned above is unlikely to be anything new to the experienced hunters out there, and, naturally, Toukiden will be either hit or miss due to its differences in gameplay when compared to a game like Monster Hunter, but Tecmo Koei's entry is a very respectable alternative. There is the case that Toukiden may not require as much grinding as the average Monster Hunter title, and it might be a generally easier game due to certain battle mechanics and a lock-on button. All of this can work in Toukiden's favour, though, as, despite grinding and difficult gameplay being such a core part of any hunting game, and despite it definitely being present here later on, it makes for a less repetitive experience than first thought, and may be far more enticing to people that have previously tried to get into this genre, but have since been overwhelmed. Comparing Toukiden too much to other popular hunting games may disappoint, but taking it on its own merits, and bearing in mind that this is a brand new title that doesn't have the benefit of years of refining that other series have, it is most assuredly a game to be considered for PS Vita owners in need of a title in this genre.

Screenshot for Toukiden: The Age of Demons on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Anyone that plays hunter RPGs extensively will surely find aspects to dislike about Toukiden: The Age of Demons, but it is important to note that this is a new-born entry into this Monster Hunter-dominated genre, and does not have the years and years of experience and fine-tuning to deliver such lofty standards that some may be expecting. That all said, Toukiden has a lot to offer for people that are looking for an alternative and change of pace to other hunting RPGs on the market, with an easy-to-get-into combat system that may in fact enable some that could not previously enjoy this sort of game to actually have a good time. Take Toukiden without comparing it too much to others, and there is a worthwhile action RPG here. With any luck, this can be the beginning of a successful new series for Tecmo Koei.

Developer

Omega Force

Publisher

Tecmo Koei

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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