Fighting demons should always be an epic experience and a test of your strength. With its focus based solely on demon hunting, I came into Toukiden: The Age of Demons expecting just that.
Much like Monster Hunter, this action game is about hunting strong demons that can take up the better part of an hour.
Gameplay is much faster than its monster hunting brethren however. You don’t need to worry about sheathing away your weapon and movements are overall much swifter. This may reel in some of those hunters that dislike the slower and more technical combat experience that Monster Hunter offers.
With fast swordplay and plenty of demons to battle, is this nifty little title the next must buy for Vita owners?
The first thing I noticed was how impressive the visuals are. Toukiden truly takes the Vita to the max with crisp and sharp looking textures. Each character and area is rendered beautifully and looks great from every angle. The design of the levels is also a delight to look at. Each area represents a historical period of Japan, such as the Age of Grace, which features characteristics of the Nara and Heian Eras.
Your vision won’t be the only sense that will get stimulated. The audio is simply superb, echoing with a “faux surround sound” effect that gives further depth to the action going on around you. Experiencing Toukiden with earphones is a must.
On that note, the music is decently impressive. It may not have that epic signature Skywalker Sound that Comcept went with for Soul Sacrifice, but each level and boss theme still has a unique vibe and many of the game’s melodies, songs and tunes will stay stuck in your head.
Once you get past how pretty it is and how great it sounds however, you’ll begin to see some of its demonic shortcomings.
For example, Toukiden has a very odd progression pace. New demon types are few and far between, leading to a lack of variety very quickly. The missions will have you repeatedly fighting the same large demons over and over.
Nevertheless, the large demons are pretty badass and fighting them brings about some challenge. The larger demons are nearly impervious to weapons, but their weakness lies under their skin. You can cut off their limbs to expose their life essence, and I have to admit that it feels amazing to slice and tear monsters down limb by limb.
You can then purify these limbs (and smaller downed demons) to collect materials, which can then be used to forge equipment. This is great, but due to the limited varieties of enemies, you only have access to a narrow selection. Your equipment can however be strengthened and leveled up with constant use.
Six weapon types are available at your disposal: swords, knives, spears, gauntlets, chain and sickle and bows. Each weapon does handle differently, with some of them giving you the ability to launch yourself in the air, which is a necessity for cutting off those harder to reach limbs.
The Mitama, which are the souls of fallen slayers from ages past, also play a large role in Toukiden. They favor you with various boosts that fall into the typical gaming archetypes, ranging from offensive, defensive, healing and even luck amongst others. Each class offers various skills and abilities, adding some much needed customization to your selected play style.
An important thing to note here is that unlike Monster Hunter, you don’t have to worry about bringing items. No matter which Mitama you have equipped, you will always have a healing ability, thus streamlining the pace of the game as you don’t have to micromanage and decide what and what not to bring.
The cast of characters and the story is nothing too spectacular or exciting, but it was just enough to keep me interested in moving forward. As a demon slayer, you team up with other AI-controlled Slayers in town, all of which can join you on missions. You also won’t have to worry about them being a burden as they’re actually quite helpful and aren’t suicidal like your allies in Soul Sacrifice. With Toukiden being a monster hunting game, this also means you can team up with your friends on various missions through ad-hoc or online. These co-op missions progress separately from the main story.
In the end, Toukiden may bask in its gorgeous visuals and have decently great hack-and-slash gameplay, but its lack of enemy variety keeps it from truly being excelling. If Omega Force does continue to follow the path of the titles it emulates, I wouldn’t be surprised if they would announce an expanded version with much more content before the end of the year.
(Editor’s note: A publisher’s copy of the game was provided for this review. Review copies are provided as a courtesy, and do not influence the opinions of Pixelitis.)