General game information
Game name: Toukiden 2
Release date: March 21, 2017
Price: US$ 59.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Toukiden 2 is Omega Force‘s second stab at the monster hunting genre, and it comes with enough new features to entice even the most hardcore Monster Hunter fanatics. A huge open world replaces the mission based structure of earlier hunting titles, and the increased mobility afforded by the newly introduced Demon Hand tool lets players traverse Toukiden 2‘s environments with grace.
After a surprisingly in-depth character creation process, the game drops the player in the focal point of a demonic invasion, as part of a special unit of Slayers tasked with the eradication of the evil Oni forces. The battle does not go as planned, and our character suffers a temporal displacement, disappearing from the battlefield and reappearing on an unknown forest ten years later. Luckily for us, we wake up on the outskirts of a small town, a quirky professor nurses our character back to health, and we get speedily inducted into the Slayer forces tasked with the town’s protection.
The story is actually quite good for a monster hunting game, and we get to meet all sorts of interesting characters before heading out to battle the Oni. Major events will trigger cutscenes (though their level of detail never reaches the high bar set by the game’s intro cinematic) and the main cast comes to life thanks to some excellent voice work. Sadly, side quests aren’t as fleshed out as the main adventure, and we’ll spend a lot of time running errands for shopkeepers. Another thing that should definitely be improved if Koei Tecmo ever releases a sequel (or a Kiwami version) is that our AI squadmates (who are otherwise really good at their job) will often speak with each other in Japanese with no written translation appearing on screen. When we are out of the hub town, we may also run into other Slayers (usually computer controlled versions of real players) who may require our aid to bring down particularly troublesome Oni, and will temporarily join our party afterwards.
As expected from a demon hunting game, we will spend most of our time fighting hellspawn, which may range from small, pet sized foes, to massive, boss-like creatures that will require careful coordination between the player and their AI/player controlled teammates. In order to defeat the demonic hordes, we may use weapons such as bows, rifles, dual knives and sword/shield combos (among others). A new feature in Toukiden 2 is the introduction of the Demon Hand, a tool that lets us grab on to the scenery or enemy body parts, and can be used as a way to traverse the game’s open environments with grace, or as an offensive item after a power meter gets charged.
The core of the combat system is still the same as in the first Toukiden, faster than Monster Hunter‘s slow paced engagements and with a focus on destroying our foes’ body parts. Weapon variety is king here, and we should try to specialize in at least three different types if we intend to succeed on most battles without suffering a bit. I particularly enjoyed the rifles, as they require careful positioning and good battlefield awareness. After destroying a body part, we can “purify” it so the target demon can’t regrow it, and this mechanic will also let us grab materials that may be used to enhance our death dealing tools or create new ones.
Toukiden 2 features two main upgrade options for our character. The first, and probably most important, is the Mitama system, which lets us equip the souls of dead warriors (eerily similar to the “soulcatcher” mechanic featured in Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising, an underrated 2001 PC strategy game) on three different slots. As we engage in battle, these Mitama will level up, unlocking new skills that can be equipped, and can change our playstyle significantly. Aside from the Mitama system, we can also enhance our character with new weapons and armor (which come with better stats, as usual in action RPGs) or by reinforcing existing equipment. If we choose to upgrade existing weapons, we can select from different variations, specializing our character for all out offense or speed, for example.
In order to create new equipment or upgrade our existing arsenal, we will need to gather materials from fallen Oni, and in typical monster hunting game fare, different types of demon will yield specific parts. Targeting the demons’ limbs with concentrated attacks or charged Demon Hand strikes will let us gather even more specialized materials (though we need to complete the purification process for each destroyed body part before we can reap the benefits). Toukiden 2 is far less grindy than Monster Hunter though, thanks to NPCs that may handle material collection for us, and to the game’s open world design, which lets us gather items without having to start missions. The usefulness of the open world is further enhanced as we advance through the storyline and unlock forward bases that can be used to fast travel to distant points of the map or change our equipment on the fly.
Sadly, engaging in cooperative play disables the open world, turning Toukiden 2 into yet another mission based monster hunting romp. This limitation doesn’t make a lot of sense on PC, and the game could have been far more interesting if we could run around the map with up to three friends in tow.
The PC port left me with mixed impressions. On the one hand, the game looks good, and the assets aren’t inferior to the ones featured in the PlayStation 4 version (this PC port also lets us play at 60 frames per second, a huge improvement over Toukiden: Kiwami’s locked 30 fps). On the other hand, mouse control is non existant (good luck playing without a gamepad) and the limited graphics options don’t let us select resolutions higher than 1080p. There is still hope, however, as the title has already received three patches since its March 21 Steam release, and Koei Tecmo’s latest PC ports show a marked improvement over their first attempts.
Ultimately, Toukiden 2 is a step forward for the monster hunting genre. The open world mechanics help reduce the tiresome grind present in similar titles to a minimum, and the story will keep players engaged until the end.
9/10 – Great.