Wow, it’s been over three years since I first reviewed Toukiden on the Vita and two years since Toukiden: Kiwami. Now, Omega Force and Koei Tecmo have released Toukiden 2, which changes up the formula by introducing an open world design along with a very handy new ability for your Slayer to use against the endless onslaught of oni.
Toukiden 2 takes place a couple of years after the first game, and a decade after the event that kicked off the demon invasion of the earth. Like most catastrophic events in video games, this event was called The Awakening, and it saw oni swarm the earth. Secretive fighters known as Slayers teamed up to battle the oni and purify their remains. The game’s opening moments act as a basic tutorial to introduce the player to some of the basic concepts of the game, although many more gameplay elements and mechanics are introduced as you play. During this first half hour or so, the player-created Slayer — which, by the way, the number of options in creating the appearance of your character, especially their face and head is insane — gets his or her first taste of battle. While fighting a Brutebeast, a portal opens up and the player is whisked away, awaking in the village of Mahoroba.
Take note, Toukiden 2 does not have English dubs and it does have a lot of dialog. That may not be a big deal to you and it’s not to me, but the player will learn nearly everything about the game through text and all interactions with the NPCs are also text-based. Anyway, that said, your Slayer discovers that he has someone been “asleep” for ten years, although to him the change in time was instantaneous. The day he left was The Awakening, in ten years, the Oni have practically taken over the world, but small bands of Slayers continue to fight back. Similar to the previous Toukiden games, the village acts as your hub to the world; you have a Room that you can save your game in and change out your equipment and so forth (by the way, you get a nice bonus unlockable armor kit if you have a previous Toukiden save game). There is a blacksmith to help you forge and fix weapons and armor, and several NPCs around to give you optional side missions, and so on. However, in a big and welcomed change from previous games in the series, you can explore around areas and discover collectibles and take on oni, big and small.
As with any open world game, especially one teeming with collectibles and loot, it’s easy to get distracted and burned out. To that end, Omega Force created an airborne toxin in some areas that strongly encourages them to leave their until they have cleared out enough oni to stop the spread of the toxin. I thought this was a good mechanic and oddly reminded me of the classic STALKER game in which the player could not proceed to certain areas until they had earned a strong enough radiation suit. Anyway, this helps keep players focused on the main goals, which alone are going to take upwards of thirty hours to complete anyway from what I have read, although at the time of this writing I’m still a ways from that point.
The ability to travel around an open world and experience things in the world more organically is welcomed, as is the new Demon Hand ability. This ability is given to you very early in the game and it allows you to more quickly get around the game world and better deal with large oni because it allows you to grab onto them and spring into the air for an extended airborne attack, and if your timing is good, you can even counter some attacks by large oni by using the demon hand. Two new weapon sets — sword and shield and a chain whip — expand the total number of weapon sets to about a dozen, as well. New Mitama — those neat power-ups that you can equip a few of to give you additional perks — are included, with over a hundred total to collect if you so desire.
The presentation is a little bit rough. With no English dubs, there’s a lot of reading, which could be problematic to some. Moreover, the graphical fidelity isn’t great, but it’s serviceable. Draw distance and pop-ins are issues, and the level of detail just isn’t very strong, probably in no small part to this game being released on the Vita as well. Character detail, especially those of the oni, is very impressive though and part of the fun of going oni tracking and hunting is discovering them and marveling at their appearance. The battles with them sometimes take too long — twenty minutes or so at times — which gets very grindy. I would suggest playing online multiplayer, but I have barely tested this and unfortunately it does not appear that the full campaign is available to play cooperatively online, which would be quite interesting.
As a third person monster hunter with JRPG elements, Toukiden 2 gets a lot right. It has some important limitations that you should consider before diving in, but if you enjoy the franchise or the monster-hunter genre, keeps this one in mind.