Tecmo Koei Games has been one of the biggest supporters of the PlayStation Vita; they brought Ninja Gaiden and Dynasty Warriors to the console on the handheld’s launch, and have continued to bring it’s well received library to the console. They even went as far as to give the Vita it’s own series with Toukiden: The Age of Demons in early 2014.
Toukiden: Kiwami is an expansion to Toukiden: The Age of Demons released as a full price title; what this means to you is that it includes both the content from The Age of Demons as well as new content. There have been a small amount of changes to the gameplay, but it is still as good as it was in the original version; as such, I’d recommend reading the review for that game as well as this one by clicking here if you’re a newcomer to the series. Starting by reading the review of the original will give you get a better idea of what the game is about, as it focuses more on the introduction to the series than this review does.
The new content in Kiwami is structured into chapters (much like the original game), with each chapter containing a number of different missions for you to complete. Sometimes you’ll have three missions to choose from, other times you’ll have to complete a specific mission in order to progress. These new-to-the-series missions are split once again into team-based and solo missions, with the team missions significantly easier as you can be revived by your teammates when you die. Being that I only played the first two chapters of The Age of Demons (thanks to the Toukiden: Kiwami demo) before transferring my save and starting the new content, this help came in handy quite a lot for me as I was severely under-experienced.
The original name for Toukiden: Kiwami was Toukiden: Extreme, and it’s clear to see why as soon as you jump in; the Oni are bigger, the battles are more intense, and the difficulty ramps up. This all starts at Chapter 8, which picks up straight from where the original leaves off as a new wave of Oni have begun to attack the village. Your mission, as you’d imagine, is to take them out.
Combat in Toukiden: Kiwami plays out in real time. Using the square button executes a standard attack, triangle allows for a heavy strike, circle gives you the ability to power up your strikes (at the cost of your stamina), and the X button is a dodge mechanic. It’s all fairly simple and after your first couple of missions it’ll become routine – if not slightly repetitive, especially when you get into some of the harder/longer missions (where it can take you up to half an hour to slay some of the bigger Oni).
The Mitama system is also incredibly easy to get used to. Holding the right trigger while in battle gives you access to their abilities, which can be used a number of times. The exact number is shown on the button icon, and these abilities range from healing your character to giving your character temporary stat boosts. Abilities can be refilled by finding altars in the battle areas, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for those if you’re looking to continually use your stronger attacks.
The new gear, techniques, and Mitama that your character can acquire can be leveled up even further in the Kiwami section of the game, allowing players to take it up a notch in order to face the incredibly tough missions they will now be tasked with. That said, being able to level these things up takes a lot of work, and slaying tonnes of demons and dying seemed to work for me when it came to that.
The game’s story and characters evolve as you play, and it teaches you the history and the lore of the Oni in a steady way. Even so, all of this can be revised in your character’s home by using a book – so if you didn’t understand something the first time, you can access that book and brush up on what you might have missed.
Battles with a party are incredibly good fun. They normally run ahead and take out most of the enemies, however you can change their role in the party so that they hang back and stay defensive if you’d like. There’s a lot you can do when it comes to tinkering with the gameplay, so missions can be different if you play about with different strategies.
Another thing I liked a lot about Kiwami is the game’s supporting characters, which are a mixed bag when it comes to emotions. You have your serious characters like the commanding officer, but you also have the fun and quirky characters like Hatsuho; who in the cutscenes likes to make a joke or two towards whoever’s available.
With regards to graphics, Toukiden: Kiwami contains the best visuals I’ve seen in a Vita game. It’s absolutely stunning to be honest, with some of the screenshots posted for this review being from times the game took my breath away. The giant Oni look incredible in their introduction videos, and even in gameplay they look stunning; it really adds fuel to the fact that the Vita can indeed produce console quality graphics.
For first time players, Toukiden: Kiwami is an excellent starting point. All of the content is here and the game does pacing extremely well – the missions getting progressively harder as you move through the game. That said, progression of difficulty is always at such a steady pace that it never leaves the player feeling out of their depth. This alone is one of the reasons I enjoyed it as much as I did, especially since I came into Kiwami under-experienced.
My one major problem with this game is that it can get a little repetitive at times and missions can often seem a little bit dragged out, especially those where you fight bigger Oni. You can spend up to an hour trying to defeat them, and the constant attacking and dodging can become just a little bit frustrating.
Overall, I think that Toukiden: Kiwami is a must-purchase for any PlayStation Vita owner – and if you’ve given up on ever getting a real Monster Hunter game in the West, then this is a perfect substitute. While players who enjoyed Toukiden: The Age of Demons will love Kiwami for the fresh new challenges it offers, newcomers who are wanting to give the series a go will be equally happy with the 40+ hours of untouched Oni-slaying content.
The question therefore shouldn’t be “should I get it?”, but “am I ready for it?” – and the answer to that is up to you.