The original Toukiden and its updated 2015 enhanced version Toukiden Kiwami broke interesting ground in the monster hunting genre. Set in a pseudo-Japan, the games charged the player with the task of hunting creatures known as oni that had invaded the world. Following up with the full sequel Toukiden 2, Omega Force has expanded on the formula introduced in the original with new weapons, an all-new story, and an expansive open world to explore.
Toukiden 2 kicks off with a detailed character-creation system. I’m used to a couple dozen hairstyles and a few face types available in most hunting games but Toukiden 2 goes the extra mile and includes more options than you could possibly need.
It’s once you’ve made your character the game kicks into full gear however, launching you into the middle of a battle in a city torn apart by the long war against the otherworldly oni invaders. After facing a particularly large oni, your character is whisked ten years into the future where they are discovered by a woman who identifies as the Professor and her assistant – the machine Tokitsugu. The pair bring you back to their home in the outskirts of Mahoroba, which is a town both united against the influx of oni appearing in the world and divided within by two factions; the Samurai and the Guards.
Soon after your arrival, you are tasked with becoming the Professor’s assistant. She’ll have you testing her experiments, finding Mitama, and closing gates to the otherworld that are the source of the oni. The story itself is not very note-worthy, but it mostly serves as a vehicle to have you traversing the world and hunting bigger and bigger oni.
Toukiden 2 features all nine weapon types featured in the last game, plus the addition two new weapons; the sword & shield and the chain whip. Every single weapon functions differently – from the timing-based, heavy-hitting gauntlets to the strategic, long-distance bullet-reloading rifle. My personal favorite was the chain whip due to its wide area of effect and the ability to launch kunai into the oni, latch onto them, then fly through the air for long combos.
Although the sheer number of options are intimidating, finding the perfect weapon for your particular play style is easy thanks to a long list of optional tutorials that walk you through all the details and combos of each weapon category. All the weapons and armor sets in the game are very well-designed, which makes crafting new equipment with the parts of slain enemies even more of a reward; you work toward not only better stats, but also yet another cool look for your character. The game is overall easier than many others in the genre, and this may be a pro or a con for you depending on what you’re looking for.
In addition to weapons and armor, the third type of equipment is a bit more interesting. Mitama are spirits of deceased warriors, and are found by completing missions – or as rare drops from certain large oni. 200 of them exist in the game, and provide varying functions. These range from healing, to attack boosts; depending on whether you equip them in your attack, defense, or support slot.
Perhaps the most notable addition to the game – as well as the hunting genre overall – is the Demon Hand. An invention from the Professor, it provides a number of very useful functions. As you weaken enemies with your attacks you can view them with your Demon Eye to see which of their appendages have taken enough damage to be easily broken. After using the Vita’s touch screen to aim the trajectory of your Demon Hand toward a chosen weak point, it lunges forward; grabbing the part and yanking it off of the oni’s body.
The Demon Hand can also be used for quick travel by targeting part of an oni that hasn’t been weakened enough yet. Instead of ripping off the part, you will instead be rapidly pulled to its body – allowing for strategic acrobatics to become a part of your arsenal of attack types.
Thankfully, the large open world is also a perfect place in which to use the Demon Hand. Rather than the instanced missions used by most hunting games, the story of Toukiden 2 takes place in a seamless map filled with oni both large and small. There are occasional encampments that allow you to teleport to Mahoroba and back (should you not want to make the trek back on your own), but there are no other hub cities to discover.
By touching trees or certain cliffs with your Demon Hand however, you’ll see that you can swing between trees and climb up steep edges with ease. The Hand can also be used to decimate large piles of rubble that block your way. Should the Demon Hand not be your choice method of travel, you can also walk, run, or dash across the map. The first two options allow unlimited use, but dashing does deplete your stamina meter when it’s used. Luckily, stamina regenerates quickly.
The map itself is composed of a series of regions called “Ages;” each of which represent different eras in the game’s history, as well as different environmental types. I must say, really appreciated the variety in the open world (as well as the switch-up from traditional pre-selected missions).
If you enjoyed the mission-based gameplay in previous entries in the genre, don’t fret! There are still a number of missions that are unlocked as you go through the story. Some of them only require you to slay a particular enemy or group of enemies, while others will see you delving into an underground maze to see how deep you can make it.
Many of these missions are found in the game’s multiplayer mode, which is easily accessed. That said, the missions can be played solo, with NPCs, via ad-hoc, or via online – the last of which includes cross-play with the PlayStation 4 version of the game. There’s almost always at least one room going, and playing missions online is a lot of fun so I highly recommend it. Should you not have access to an internet connection however – or if you simply want to play the entire game solo, every piece of multiplayer content is also doable with just the game’s NPCs so you won’t miss out on a single thing.
Did I mention that it’s also a great way to beef up your equipment? Well it is!
The music in the game is largely inspired by traditional Japanese music and heavily features flutes and string instruments. It’s beautiful to listen to, but probably not something that will make you want to rush out and buy the soundtrack. Sound effects are spot-on though – and oni roars, weapon slashes, rifle shots, and the characters calling out to each other create a wonderfully chaotic cacophony in each battle.
It’s important to note here that while voiced, the game only has the original Japanese dub available. On one hand this is great, since the original dub is fantastic and includes a large number of voiced scenes. On the other, the characters often speak while walking through the map or fighting and no subtitles are provided during these scenes. I’m sure it’s just typical flavor text like “Let’s do our best” and things along those lines, but it still would have been nice for subtitles to be included here – especially since they’re present in the game’s CG cutscenes.
Looking at the game as a whole, it’s true that the PlayStation 4 version features improved graphics and a better frame rate, but the Vita is absolutely no slouch. It usually runs at a solid thirty frames per second, though occasional dips will happen. I found that playing the PlayStation 4 version might be more comfortable however, particularly with regards to Demon Hand use. Taking my hand off of the action buttons and having to cover the screen with a finger to target an oni during the heat of battle wasn’t exactly ideal, especially when I knew the PlayStation 4 version controlled the Demon Hand with the R2 shoulder button. Despite these minor complaints however, the Vita version is absolutely not a poor version of the game and it’s stellar that the developers managed to squeeze everything into it.
Toukiden 2 is an absolutely massive game with a large number of game systems both large and small. Whether you come looking for a solid story with great gameplay, an entry point into the hunting genre, or online gameplay with others, there is a lot of game to dig into – and it’s all wrapped in a beautiful, portable package. It ranks among the top of the genre, and that’s saying something if you ask me.