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First Impressions: Toukiden Looks to Forge a Strong Handheld Slay-'Em-Up

Posted by Robert Ramsey

Face your demons

From the developers of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors comes Toukiden: The Age of Demons, a monster-slaying, loot-grinding, Eastern-styled action RPG that seems tailored to portable play. Publisher Tecmo Koei's dedication to Sony's troubled handheld console is admirable – but does its newest creation shine like a beacon of light, or flounder in the darkness?

Admittedly, things start off rather shaky. Despite a lovely opening cinematic, you're quickly thrust into the character creation menu, where anyone who's familiar with the Dynasty Warriors: Empires games will be disappointed to discover that Toukiden makes use of several of the same customisation assets – even if they are of a better visual quality. After you've formed your avatar's mug, you'll then choose your fighting style of choice, before you're casually tossed into a brawl with a gigantic oni.

Taking on the massive creature in question serves as a tutorial of sorts, but it isn't a particularly great way to introduce you to the release's combat, mainly because the beast can slap you around like a ragdoll without too much warning. Its attacks won't be dealing out huge amounts of damage, but the fact that each blow sends your warrior spiralling away from the point of impact can certainly be off-putting for a newcomer.

Thankfully, once the duel is over, it's safe to say that things only improve. As you're talked through the basics of what's happening in the title's world by fellow slayers, it's difficult not to admire the nicely-drawn character portraits and the hub village's homey feel. The game's art style isn't completely original or especially compelling, but it does have a well-realised quality to it which ensures that everything from weapon designs to natural looking locations click with the title's overall feel.

The plot, meanwhile, appears to be your typical tale of mankind's guardians fighting off hordes of evil demons, but it's told in way that's not overbearing, and so it doesn't seem to really interfere with the gameplay. And it's a good job, too, as Toukiden's relatively simple but refined systems fuse to create an addictive experience.

Comparisons to Capcom's Monster Hunter series are easy to make, but Omega Force's take on the sturdy formula is perhaps a little more accessible. Forging and upgrading your equipment is slightly more straightforward, as your weapons won't slowly lose their edge as you wield them in battle. Improving your chosen gear isn't too hard either, as all you'll need to do is build up your affinity to it by using it in combat. However, you'll still be felling enemies in the hopes of gathering the required materials needed to craft new weaponry, so despite its differences, the progression feels inherently similar to the abovementioned blockbuster.

Consequentially, those who struggle to enjoy Monster Hunter may not find much to get excited about here. That said, Toukiden's nicely crafted world and slightly more welcoming nature may make it a brilliant alternative. The mitama system also adds a welcome twist, where the souls of warriors from bygone times grant special buffs, and allow access to various helpful abilities, like health restoration and offensive power boosts.

Unsurprisingly, the meat of the release comes in the form of slaying oni which come in wildly varying forms, some far more dangerous than others. Both your own attacks and your enemy's can be quite sluggish, but the slow swings and slices mean that every hit counts, and the pace forces you to react to each move instead of mashing buttons. Disposing of smaller foes like imps doesn't take too long – especially since each hit tends to stagger the little blighters – but against more powerful adversaries, watching and learning their telling actions before they launch an offensive is crucial.

You're not forced to fight alone, however. Accompanying you on your adventures are artificial intelligence-driven companions, who seem to be capable enough even when tackling tough foes. With allies on hand, it's easy to cut your way through waves of baddies, and they prove to be a huge help when you're eager to bring down boss beasts. You can also team up with fellow human players, but you're limited to specific co-op missions when doing so, meaning that playing through the release's story with friends or strangers isn't an option. Fortunately, this isn't a big issue, as these particular assignments offer a great way to stock up on materials and complete secondary quest objectives.

Overall, we've got quite high hopes for Toukiden. Its bite-sized missions pave the way for addictive character progression, while its epic boss fights had us clawing for survival. With its release in just a couple of weeks' time, we're eager to see how Omega Force's oni-hunting RPG holds up over the course of its likely lengthy campaign.

Have you already forged your gear in the blood of demons thanks to the game's colossal demo, or are you saving your focus for the full release? Let us know in the comments section below.

Game Screenshots

User Comments (26)



Sanquine said:

How come everyone hates the beginning? I liked it you are tossed right into the action. I'm glad your housepet isn't a felyne ... Little b******* did more harm than good in battles ( MH)



Epic said:

@Sanquine At least they serve as distraction sometimes but damage wise they are technicaly useless XD



Volmun said:

Been playing the Demo rather fun think il get it when its out. Reminds me more of Gods Eater than Monster Hunter tbh



get2sammyb said:

Just pre-ordered this. I haven't actually tried the demo because I'm worried about burning myself out, but reading this, it sounds like something I'd enjoy. Quite fond of the Monster Hunter-lite format.



Grieva said:

My most anticipated game. Been waiting since September last year. Monster hunter with decent story, win win!



xMonk said:

As a huge fan of the MH series... this game is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better. No more ridiculous poses after you heal. No more constant farming for traps and bombs just to be thrown away in one giant battle which will make you constantly grind more and more for said items... Ugh. This game is just better in every aspect. It's aesthetically pleasing, the soundtrack is great, the weapon system is amazing (long gone are the days of sheathing your weapon so you can run faster), and no half-assed felyne partners that screw you up every chance you get. After playing Toukiden, I can honestly say that I can see all kinds of flaws in Monster Hunter now. Oh... And I also like how I don't have to equip specific runes or armor JUST to display the entire map. that was entirely annoying when I had started up Monster Hunter Freedom some time ago.



xMonk said:

@get2sammyb You'll definitely enjoy this game. The demo is kind of lame since you're given a limited inventory space and only 3000 gold (max wallet size) to work with. However, the bite sized demo will make a believer out of anyone. I also heard that this game is getting free DLC, as well? I'm not entirely too certain about that, but if so, that would be amazing.



xMonk said:

@get2sammyb My bad. D:! Oh, I will say this... Should you be familiar with the combo system of the Samurai Warrior games, you'll notice that a lot of the combos are fairly the same. I'm a gauntlet / chain & sickle user and the combat is so fast-paced. Sadly, Ragnarok ACE comes out a week after this game releases in the States...



GraveLordXD said:

@xMonk that's a bold statement #6
From what you seem to be getting at is this is an easier game to get into or just easier all together? I'm no monster hunter expert or anything but some of the reasons why I liked it was for its difficulty and timing your attacks knowing when to heal at the right time (the pose) while kinda stupid that the character does that after it does add timing maybe they could have made a longer delay by opening the bottle or something idk lol



divinelite said:

For me it's too similar to monster hunter which... I never like
But as My friends will play I'll have to play this regardless



Bliquid said:

I'll be honest: the demo left unimpressed and bored. That said, it comes from the first battle you mentioned, so i'll brace up and see what comes next.
But i'll probably just wait for SS Delta.
It smashes this generic monhun by its lore alone, not to mention everything-amazingly-else.



Volmun said:

@LDXD exactly lol this game from what i played in the demo is alot esiyer to adjust to (lack of combos is annoying to me too) but still fun and as i sed its alot more like Godz Eater on PSP than MH - i think i prefer Soul Sacrifice tbh but still il probably get this



GraveLordXD said:

@Volmun yeah I guess I don't mind that its easier or easier to get into, I know I'm gonna like it just looking at the gameplay videos as long its not a mindless button masher I'm good lol



Bliquid said:

@Sanquine: True, that would be awesome!
But since you are actually reading a book, the choice of not having a central hub is, at least, consistent. Seriously, i think SS doesn't get credit enough( read:at all) for its lore and atmosphere. It takes from legends and fairy tales and distorts them beatifully. I poured 250+ hours in it, don't play it as often now, but i keep going back reading the stories of the archfiends.

On topic, i finished the Toukiden demo, and i'm definitely not sold.



Scollurio said:

@xMonk Thanks for the info and sorry for that dumb question, because it isn't like that on the Nintendo eShop for 3DS. But this is great. Hope we can preorder it digitally too? Didn't find the option to yet! ;/
I really enjoy he demo so far as I am a BIG monster hunter fan. Still hoping that Capcom eventually jumps ship to PS4 and/or Vita with a proper MH release!



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

Yeah played about fifteen minutes of the demo. Very frickin awesome. Only about five minutes of soul sacrifice too last month. Thought that was pretty awesome too. Both of these will be eating up my hours in the next few months.



JaxonH said:


Hahaha, so I take it you didn't use the False Felyne mask while hunting then lol? As much as I hated getting blasted away with a Large Barrel Bomb every few minutes, it absolutely wrecked the monsters, so I eventually got to a place I could just chuckle as my character went flying into another area.



JaxonH said:


What you see as weakness, I see as Monster Hunter's greatest strengths, and what sets it aside from the look-alikes. I love the strategy of anticipating animation lengths while healing, or sheathing, or whatever. It's the little things like anticipating when to stop a combo in order to sheath and retreat in time. Little things like sharpening your weapon. Things like environmental protection via hot/cold drinks. Things like stamina, and skill sets. Utilizing talismans and gemming in armor sets. That's what made the game great to me.

And I do I love the felyne partners, which btw, have a slew of different masks you can equip. So that's on the individual player if they choose to have them throw bombs during hunts> I sometimes used Mock Melynx mask which stole rare items from monsters. More than once did I get a skyemerald or pallium from ChaCha. But in the end, you have the option of leaving your shakalaka's at base camp, so you don't have to bring them.

As for traps, I keep 200 at all times- 100 shock traps and 100 pitfall traps. Perhaps in the beginning of the game they're hard to get, but once you know what you're doing you can buy everything you need from Granny Go-To in Port Tanzia (MH3U). Selling off unneeded G-Rank drops kept me at over a million zenny at all times. Farming nulberries and selling them nets 30,000 zenny per round. There is no reason to have to grind for anything other than weapons and armor.

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