Review

Toukiden: The Age of Demons Review

  • Game release: February 11, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • VITA

A familiar hunt with some fresh ideas.

by

Based solely on its Japanese-history-inspired setting and ornately costumed, sharp-steel-wielding heroes, Toukiden: The Age of Demons could pass for another sequel or spin-off in developer Omega Force's Dynasty Warriors series. Before your oversized sword can draw its first drop of blood, however, you find the game's surface similarities give way to an experience that shares more with Capcom's Monster Hunter games than anything in the developer's existing library of Warriors titles. From its save-the-world storyline and screen-swallowing boss battles to its party-based play and grinding loop of laying waste to uglies, looting their corpses, and leveling up your character and gear, Toukiden will feel comfortably familiar to anyone who has ever invested an evening into besting a towering beast in Capcom's creature-slaying series. More than a mere copycat, though, Toukiden complements its cloned Monster Hunter elements with enough fresh features, nuance, and ideas to earn its own identity.

For starters, the pacing of its combat is driven by more than the light and heavy attacks it initially teaches you. As an appropriately dubbed slayer, you must rid the world of oni, demons that aren't particularly interested in living peacefully among humankind. Battling these netherworld baddies requires the expected hacking, slashing, and elemental magic casting, but purifying their dismembered body parts adds a satisfying wrinkle to the slaughter. The act temporarily leaves you vulnerable, but ensures the lopped limbs won't regenerate. Purifying also loots resources from downed foes and siphons life from bigger bads who are still kicking despite losing an arm, leg, or spiky tentacle.

You're not hunting these monsters. You're slaying them. Totally different.

This extra strategic element is further complemented by mitama, souls of fallen slayers that are occasionally released through purification. These rare drops, representing the different offensive and defensive disciplines--combat, regeneration, speed, and so on--of their previous owners, can be assigned to slots in your weapons. Once a mitama is firmly rooted in the handle of a sword--or the grip of another upgradable death-dealer (spear, dual daggers, bow, gauntlets, chain and sickle)--it can be triggered during battle. By activating mitama, you can unleash various table-turning powers, all of which have limited quantities per mission and run on cooldown timers. Finding new mitama, which also unlocks collectible-card-like pictures and backstories of their slayers, quickly becomes a compelling little metagame, but managing them during boss battles brings a welcome strategic layer to the otherwise button-mashy combat. You monitor a regenerating focus meter, which can be activated to identify enemy weak points as well as other invaluable intel and items, adding yet another resource to your arsenal.

Sure, its similarities to the competition are undeniable, but Omega Force has crafted a Monster Hunter clone that generally stands on its own.

Armchair adventurers will discover more depth back at the hublike village, where the usual lineup of chatty non-player characters--merchants, blacksmiths, scared citizens--encourage you to buy and sell goods, upgrade and forge gear, and even level up those precious mitama. Those looking for a brief reprieve from facing inhabitants of the horned, fanged, and clawed variety can also interact with villagers and cuddly animals who'll grant them side quests and gather resources for them, respectively.

Take a break from slaying demons by acquiring gear to more effectively slay demons.

Like Monster Hunter, Toukiden is best enjoyed with friends who don't shudder at the thought of having their spines used as dental floss. Online lobbies, supporting four-player adventures and sporting a fairly robust search criteria for different game types, let you join the fight alongside friends and strangers in both ad hoc and infrastructure modes. While my online experience was generally smooth and seamless, I found myself braving the battlefield alone most of the time. Where co-op almost feels like a requirement in Monster Hunter, Toukiden's solid solo experience makes going it alone a viable option. This is due in no small part to AI party members that are more a help than a hindrance; on top of holding their own in combat and playing to their specific strengths, they happily purify for you, doing all the busywork while the loot is deposited directly into your bank.

Toukiden's pacing doesn't stray far from the genre's proclivity toward grinding. You spend plenty of time farming for resources, battling familiar foes, and facing bosses that take the better part of an hour to bring down. If you're not a fan of this very specific, often polarizing style of gameplay, you'll likely find its repetition more painful than any hurt a hell spawn can put on you. It doesn't help that Toukiden's visual presentation, while packing plenty of vibrant details and slick effects, lacks variety; environments aren't especially distinctive, and enemies are often repeated.

Sure, its similarities to the competition are undeniable, but Omega Force has crafted a Monster Hunter clone that generally stands on its own. While it could have felt like a shameless rip-off with a few half-baked features grafted on for good measure, Toukiden manages to organically weave its defining elements--purification and mitama--into the genre's comfortably familiar fabric.

The Good
Successfully borrows best elements from Monster Hunter and the like
Injects familiar genre elements with fresh ideas
AI that's actually intelligent
Fun to play solo
The Bad
Bland environments
Enemies repeat too often
Core gameplay can be a repetitive grind
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

As a fan of both Monster Hunter and Soul Sacrifice, Matt Cabral has reduced his fair share of beasties to pulpy puddles. After spending the better part of a weekend with Toukiden for the purpose of this review, his corpse pile is becoming a problem he can no longer hide in his bedroom closet.

Discussion

26 comments
luke_d_smith
luke_d_smith

I am currently on chapter 4 of the solo campaign and finding it difficult to pick the game back up due to the repetition. I was really hyped about this game when I first got it and couldn't understand why more of a big deal hadn't been made per-release.

I will finish the game as I am enjoying the storyline and want to see how it ends. Unfortunately I do not think I will be trophy hunting or playing much multi-player as I will be ready for sending the game to my PC backup storage once the main story ends.

There is no doubt that you will be able to pickup this game second hand in many game stores already with people loosing patience with the repetitive grind, so be careful when paying the full £30 price tag from the PS store.

Some people (especially monster hunter fanatics) will get 100's of hours out of this game. For me the assets put in place to make the game re-playable are not enough to out weigh the tediousness and lack of differences between each world and chapter.

I will not be spending more time than necessary with Toukiden. It is good for one play through to enjoy the story but there is only so many times you can enjoy killing the same AI model before it gets boring.

You will get 20 hours out of the main story in Toukiden which is up there with most Vita titles currently so do not be put off by its poor replayability factors.

nami_the_mage
nami_the_mage

It would've been nice if they released this on PS3 as well.

k--m--k
k--m--k

Love this game, true its repetitive, but that is given in games that require grinding. 

I would give it an 8  

baral-o
baral-o

one reason i never liked monster hunter was the lack of AI companions (I play solo) and the annoying animations (for example the healing...) i just bay a Vita and this is actually my second game and a really like it, it's not a 10 or 9 but definitely a give it a 8...and yes, it's not the most difficult game out there but must all games be difficult? it's good to play something more "normal" from time to time

dragonlance1989
dragonlance1989

Imo the AI in Toukiden is really something and a lot of game could learn from it. The dev stroke an excellent balance between assisting and stealing your glory. The party assist you, not so overpowered that they steal your kill. They help you destroy parts, doing chores (purifying), healer heals and debuff when needed, and I love the fact that Oka (the tank) activate her Invincibility when resurrecting me so that she cannot be interrupted. And I'd be hard pressed to find an online co-op party that's as efficient, unless I'm playing with friends.


Bottom line is that this is one of the best party AI I've ever seen. Especially during a concurrent rerun of Neverwinter Nights saga (even with the AI mod).


sakaixx
sakaixx

A MH like game getting a 7 is actually an accomplishment, I mean average gamespot give for MH is 6 with an exception from monster hunter wii which actually get an 8

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

This game is really good....but im tired of waiting for the next monster hunter. Why would sony and capcom not publush a new MH on ps vita when they know that everyone and their japanese girlfriends wants it....why would they fuck their profits like that..??....makes no sense really.

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

I've been a Monster Hunter fan since the original for PS2, and while I know the intentional clunkiness of the gameplay is part of what makes Monster Hunter, Monster Hunter, the more precise mechanics in Toukiden felt really great in comparison. A lot of the systems shamelessly borrow from MH, but seem more streamlined. AI characters for solo is a really nice addition to this kind of game as well. 

It's always interesting to see what Omega Force can do outside of Dynasty Warriors, and this is definitley a nice game. Not as creative as Soul Sacrifice, but quality stuff nonetheless.

christopher511
christopher511

I'm kinda confused. Isn't MH also repetitive? And actually the environment looks good as well. But it depends on everyone though. I personally really enjoy this game!

Lhomity
Lhomity

Looking forward to this.



For anyone who hasn't tried it yet: there's a playable demo on PSN.

Hurvl
Hurvl

AI that's actually intelligent? So AI doesn't mean Asinine Intelligence in this context? Wow, that's really something!

Karlinel
Karlinel

The question is: Soul Sacrifice (delta, assuming it comes here) or Toukiden?

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

I'll be honest...I never get tired of the formula itself. All these alternatives to Monster Hunter only ensure that I've got options when it comes to "hunting action" games: be it hunting prehistoric beasts, post-apocalyptic mutants, or high fantasy nasties.

baral-o
baral-o

this comes second after gods eater for me (for psp) by the way, any word about the english ver of gods eater 2?

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

@GregoryBastards Because MH has always struggled to get a foothold in the west. It would have a worse chance on a system not many people own.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@GregoryBastards A Monster Hunter Frontier G port will hit Vita before the year ends. Will have to settle for that.

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

All games are repetetive....monster hunter is amongst a few of them that are enjoybly repetitive...personally i could play monster hunter from now til the next consoles roll in....but as you said it depends on individual choices.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@christopher511  

Monster Hunter has been criticized for repetitive gameplay too. Only die-hard fans would give Monster Hunter a free pass.

meeghoulz
meeghoulz

@Karlinel  SoulSacrifice has more adult and macabre feel to it and no ´hunting´for parts element ,just the energy refining bit.I´ve played the demo and Toukiden seems a combination of MH and SoulSacrifice with a welcome variation of scenery.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@baral-o     God Eater 2 sold very well in Japan, so it is possible. But I've yet to see any announcement. You could probably still enjoy it in Japanese though, and it's easy enough to import (CDJapan, Play-Asia, etc).

Hurvl
Hurvl

@brxricano @HurvlI don't know, autism is more of a social handicap than one dealing with intelligence. Autistic people can become amazingly good at some things, while they're awful at others, like social interactions. Most enemies don't need to be social geniuses, they just need to be alert and have some kind of tactic, something autistic people surely could manage.

brxricano
brxricano

@Hurvl @brxricanoTrue but you misunderstood me. I call it that in the sense that they are rated the same way, so they are treated the same way from my perspective (i.e., he\she operates at a 5 year old mentality; this AI has the mind\intelligence of a 5 year old). The more i thought about it from that angle, the more i realized they operate the same way as well.

Toukiden: The Age of Demons More Info

First Release on Feb 11, 2014
  • PlayStation Vita
  • PSP
Toukiden casts players in the role of a demon-fighting Slayer. Starting from the Utakata Village headquarters where they will accept quests, players will venture out to battle monstrous and deadly Oni (demons) before they destroy all of humanity.
8.3
Average User RatingOut of 13 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Omega Force
Published by:
Koei Tecmo Games, TECMO KOEI GAMES CO., LTD., Tecmo Koei America Corp.
Genres:
Action
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
All Platforms