(PlayStation Vita)

Toukiden: The Age of Demons (PlayStation Vita)

Game Review

Toukiden: The Age of Demons Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Robert Ramsey

SlayStation Portable

Toukiden: The Age of Demons tells the tale of a world engulfed in war between rampaging demonic hordes – known as Oni – and humanity's last hope of survival: Slayers. This overarching narrative paves the way for gameplay that's undoubtedly similar to Capcom's popular Monster Hunter franchise – but with the addition of a few well-implemented mechanics and decent design choices, does Omega Force's creation bring the tried and tested formula to the PlayStation Vita with success?

Following the story of your custom made character and the fate of Utakata village and its inhabitants, the game's plot fails to ever really become something that you'll find yourself truly engrossed in. It's a typical narrative that deals with good versus evil, ancient powers, and the end of the world, but its predictable nature means that it never gets in the way of the title's addictive gameplay. That said, your nicely designed fellow Slayers are at least an endearing group, each of them slowly developing over the course of this 30 or so hour adventure.

The stereotypical gang don't throw up any surprising revelations, but their own stories and backgrounds do help to tie proceedings together. Carefree and cocky warrior Ibuki lives something of a life of regret, for example, and his past is gradually unravelled as you progress, giving you a reason to see the narrative through besides making your Slayer more powerful as you unlock and tackle new missions. Overall, the plot and the personalities involved are just enough to keep you interested throughout, while the release does a surprisingly good job of portraying a society that's trying to make the most of life while being so close to total destruction.

Of course, what really matters is how Toukiden plays. With access to six varied weapon types, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a fighting style that suits you. From swords and spears to bows and huge gauntlets, each moveset offers its own strengths and weaknesses, although it won't take long to master a particular discipline due to the somewhat simplistic combat. Indeed, the vast majority of your time with the game will be spent battling sparse numbers of Oni across massive, somewhat bland battlefields. It's the Monster Hunter formula at work, especially as each task sees you traversing large areas and hunting down specific beasts that need to be culled.

Basic attacks are mapped to square, while hitting triangle activates secondary moves. With most weapons, you're able to string both types of techniques together to make relatively long combos, while pressing circle activates a more powerful or specialised attack. The six styles on offer are well balanced, and you're given the option of switching to any other moveset at any time in between missions, as long as you've got equipment of that type on hand. In theory, this means that you can chop and change your gear depending on what sort of enemies you'll be facing. You could switch to a bow for a quest that sees you taking on a flying Oni, for instance, or you could grab a pair of gauntlets before tackling a melee-based baddie so that you can perform a blocking manoeuvre. In reality, however, sticking to a single discipline is perhaps more feasible if you're not keen on learning the ins-and-outs of each death-dealer – mostly because the title isn't all that challenging.

There isn't anything inherently wrong with a release that's easy to succeed at, but when that easiness makes things somewhat boring then it becomes a problem, and unfortunately, this is often the case with Toukiden. Smaller creatures pose almost no threat whatsoever unless they're in large groups – which is a rarity – because they stagger after every few blows, and so many missions become little more than chores as you and your capable computer controlled allies repeatedly slaughter each opponent that stands in your way, and routinely collect the materials needed for that shiny new armour set. It also doesn't help that there isn't much variety when it comes to your demonic enemies – even halfway through the release, you'll still be coming into contact with Oni that you've cut down hundreds of times since the opening chapter.

Thankfully, colossal boss demons provide plenty of excitement, are a usually a joy to fight, and become increasingly common as your delve further into the story. There may only be a handful of them, but you'll grow to love the tense clashes that they introduce, especially since they seem to be what the combat system was actually built around. Rolling out of the way of a gigantic fist at the last second and countering with a few quick stabs or slashes is generally how these scenarios play out, but each battle feels like something that'd be included in old myths and legends.

Consisting of several clearly defined stages where the beasts change form or go into rampage mode, each encounter may initially seem like a struggle, but as you become more knowledgeable of each monstrosity, you'll soon be anticipating their attacks and felling them with confidence, which makes for a very rewarding and enjoyable learning curve. Launching an offensive on the same body parts – be it a wing, an arm, or a leg – gradually weakens it until it bursts off into a cloud of blackened blood. After you've hacked away a limb, you'll need to purify it by standing near and holding down R to initiate your purification circle – a stance that's also used to revive knocked out allies.

While performing the ritual, you'll be completely open to retaliation, meaning that you'll have to rely on your fellow Slayers to keep the creature busy. Luckily, your computer controlled team mates are incredibly capable, perhaps overly so. In combat they'll likely never fall, and if you're down and out they'll sprint over to resurrect your battered body. However, as you may have already guessed, their prowess does have an impact on the title's difficulty. Because you're almost never alone on a mission, actually failing in your duty is a lot harder than it may seem because of the reasons mentioned above, and while it's nice to see artificial intelligence companions that are so competent, it does make you feel as though they'd get the job done even if you weren't there.

If the boss battles don't quite catch your attention, you'll likely still be roped in by the game's relatively simple but addictive crafting system. Mash up some monsters, take their remains, and then head back to the serene village to see the blacksmith Takara. From there, it's just a case of selecting the equipment that you want from a list that slowly expands as you progress through the release, and using your gathered materials up in order to forge it. It's an accessible way to go about building your hero, and it gels well with the game's approachable nature, but there's nothing specifically unique or interesting about it. Although having said that, actually crafting a brand new set of armour or a destructive new weapon feels brilliantly satisfying, especially when you've toiled through the same battles multiple times to get your hands on the raw components.

Side quests also serve to keep you occupied, as inhabitants in need of favours ask you to journey out into the field and bring back what they need. The tasks usually become available around the same time as a new area to explore is opened up, so there's little point in not seeing them through, although you'll no doubt be disappointed by the lacklustre rewards that the villagers offer. It's a good job, then, that your comrades also ask for your help from time to time. Completing jobs for your brothers and sisters in arms strengthens your bond with them, which can lead to some hidden social events. It's nothing as deep or as important as you'd find in the likes of Persona 4 Golden, but the option to grow closer to your favourite party members is welcome nonetheless, and only adds to their personality.

Materials won't be the only thing that you'll be busy collecting, though. Bosses and sometimes lesser beasts can drop Mitama – souls of warriors that were taken from their time period by the Oni menace. These historical figures come with their own lovingly drawn portrait, as well as varying passive buffs and magical skills that allow you to alter your play style outside of your equipped weapon. For example, attack type Mitama come with powers that boost your damage, while spirit type souls allow you to summon destructive elements that injure your target from range. Like the game's take on crafting, this light RPG element is something that isn't wholly unique or especially compelling, but it adds another thoughtful layer of player choice and customisation.

With a serviceable narrative, solid gameplay, and addictive character progression, Toukiden is certainly a title that you may find yourself coming back to again and again, even if it's just for a quick stint of Oni slaughter. Smaller missions suit portable play well, but it's best to be aware that the epic clashes against larger foes can sometimes take up to half an hour to complete, meaning that the game is probably at its best when you're sitting comfortably with a few hours to spare so that you can get ensnared by the burning desire to churn out some lovely new items, all of which sport unique, attractive designs, whether they're burly bits or armour or swift, slender swords.

Meanwhile, multiplayer is on the menu if you're up for some cooperative action. Online missions are separate from the single player's, but they're perfect for gathering materials that are particularly tough to locate. Cooperation isn't a necessity as you and up to three other players will usually just be sprinting in separate directions so that you can achieve victory quickly, but it helps that the release supports gestures and quick messaging, which makes basic communication easy. But while playing with strangers is as easy as making or joining an open lobby, teaming up with friends is an absolute hassle. The only way to join with your buddies is by searching for and entering their custom-made room, but the search function seems to be completely unreliable, and at times, refuses to acknowledge that the created lobby even exists, which leaves us baffled as to why there isn't something as simple as an invitation system in place.

Conclusion

Outside of its gripping boss battles, Toukiden: The Age of Demons doesn't do much to get you excited. From its art style and audio to its combat and crafting system, it sticks to a familiar format, but its accessibility might just be its best asset, making it a decent alternative to the slightly more demanding mechanics of Monster Hunter. For a new property, though, it's an absolutely rock solid foundation on which developer Omega Force can build upon, hopefully crafting a sequel that slays the demon that we call predictability.

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User Comments (25)

divinelite

#1

divinelite said:

It's at best to have monster Hunter on vita
Soul sacrifice is more appealing for me but monster design in soul sacrifice is very scary compared to Tokiden and battle in soul sacrifice is far more complex. So it's simpler to introduce Tokiden than souls sacrifice to others

JaxonH

#2

JaxonH said:

As I suspected. Many will try. Few will succeed. Monster Hunter, accept no substitutes.

Grieva

#4

Grieva said:

For me, thus game wins over monster hunter for 1 reason: online multiplayer. I love MH, ive played since ps2, buy recent releases haven't given me the same excitement. I will get MH4 next year though. Toukiden is a great game that puts a proper narrative on the game, which gives some reason for the fighting. I would have given Toukiden 8/10. But each to thier own!

SimonAdebisi

#5

SimonAdebisi said:

I briefly played the demo and that was enough to convince me to splash out at some point, I think 7/8 is reasonable from the little that I've experienced. I have monster hunter and soul sacrifice in my backlog so it may be a while before I get to this.

LDXD

#6

LDXD said:

@Gemuarto monster hunter has way more to it than this, not saying this is a bad game by any means but monster hunter is a few steps ahead of this

LDXD

#7

LDXD said:

If you would like a simplified monster hunter this is the game for you
I don't think I've died once yet and I'm pretty far into it 40 missions are so. I also miss the timing like monster hunter has sharping the blade drinking a health potions and what not this game is just run and swing your weapons you don't even have to dodge most of the time if you don't want to and you can instantly heal

LDXD

#8

LDXD said:

@shogunrok good review I was thinking before I even clicked that this was or should be a 7
For me its a good game I've put many hrs into it already but its no MH close but no cigar

belmont

#11

belmont said:

Just bought it! Surely I would want a Metal Gear or proper Silent Hill or a new Final Fantasy but the "da vita has no games" is surely wrong especially if someone likes Japanese games. I look forward to ys next week and blazblue sometime later.

Ryumoau

#13

Ryumoau said:

Great review. I'm not too big on monster hunter type games but i need something new to play on vita, so i might just rent this one.

LDXD

#15

LDXD said:

@Sanquine lol I'm simply saying that this is a good game without a doubt I'm having a blast it just lacks the depth of MH
And I'm defending MH because we have a few people on here that think otherwise

Sanquine

#16

Sanquine said:

@LDXD Yeah why defending it? People can't have an opinion right? You don't need to push your opinion down people throaths. Hey, i love monster hunter but it has no story. I like soul sacrafice more because it has a deep story but that doesn't mean it's a lesser experience than MH.

LDXD

#17

LDXD said:

@Sanquine its my opinion that MH is better than this sure but its a fact that MH has more depth gameplay wise and that's my problem with a post I responded to
As I play this game and even though at times I can't put it down I keep thinking I wish there was more to it you know what I mean? I'm not trying to force my opinion about what game is better or what game is more fun to play but which game has more depth and fact is MH is still king of hunting games until evolve because that game looks unbelievable
Speaking of soul sacrifice I need to get into it I played it for a few minutes just to get a feel of the game but then Ys took hold of me now this and ffX is coming out and a bunch of other games omg I have way to many games with not enough time to play them all :( I hate this. I wouldnt be surprised if my back log is in the 100s

ShogunRokAdmin

#18

ShogunRok said:

@Ryumoau @LDXD Thanks very much for reading.

Like I said in the review, I think Toukiden is an absolutely solid game that follows the Monster Hunter formula. It has some good features of it own too, so I'd say that even those who aren't hugely interested in Capcom's game still might want to give this a try.

LDXD

#19

LDXD said:

@Sanquine one thing this game to me is better than MH is the single player and like you said story
@Shogunrok I agree this is a very solid hunting game IMO way more easy to get into then MH may even be more appealing for more people because of that. glad I bought it that's for sure

Sanquine

#20

Sanquine said:

@LDXD Sorry i overdid it again. Yeah gameplay of MH is addicting. I know the thrill of defeating Monsters for getting the right stuff for new armor. Last mh i played was freedom unite. I have @ 3ds but no slider pad pro... So MH 3 ultimate is it good?

Sanquine

#21

Sanquine said:

@LDXD and i get were you coming from! Taking potions , dodging a monster because every hit is like 30% of your health and coocking xD that music. I just think people need to give this game a chance.

LDXD

#22

LDXD said:

@Sanquine lol no prob man we all do that yes I have MH 3 ultimate and its the only MH I played. I have it for the Wii u can't see me playing that on the 3ds with no CCP that thing looks arkward to me. I wish MH4 would come to vita I'd love to have that on the go with the better controls of the vita
So as you can see I'm no MH expert or anything but I have over 100 hrs on it and its very good I don't play it as much because its very time consuming for one and for some reason my Wii u has a rough time getting along with my router or something because I'll be fine for a few hrs or days then out of no where I can't connect or keep getting disconnected the thing is in the same spot as my ps3 and never had a problem with my ps3 I don't get it

LDXD

#23

LDXD said:

@Sanquine ohh #21 also I love how you can only tell the heath by looking at the monster it starts drooling then limps away then you have to track it down also you could be fighting one then out of no where you get attacked by another lol so many moments in MH had me at the end of my chair
Oh and most definitely whoever likes these types of game IMO should just go out and spend $40 on this its good I've already got my $ out of it

Grieva

#25

Grieva said:

After 32 hours on this I am still enjoying it, its a faster grind than monster hunter. Ive got 250 hours in MH3 ultimate but I'm not sure Toukiden has that much in it, but it has great visuals (which always makes me think about what MH would look like on the vita!) But as other guys have said, if you like monster hunter or God eater then this should give you a happy. We have to remember that this is a new IP so new iterations will be better. Who remembers the original monster hunter? It was big, but look how far that has come. I look forward to other games of this franchise in the future.

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