Reviews// Toukiden: Kiwami

Posted 30 Mar 2015 13:18 by
Toukiden: Age of Demons was a release for the Playstation Vita. Toukiden: Kiwami is a mix of remaster and sequel, it contains the content of the original game with enhanced graphics and mechanics, plus a story that goes beyond the original game's conclusion.

You take the role of a Slayer, a person charged with hunting down and killing Oni (demons) that threaten the very existence of the world, or at least the village you are tasked with protecting. Surrounded by a colourful bunch of characters, all specialising in certain types of weapons, you form up a party, choose a mission and head out onto the battlefield.

Oh boy, this game has been scratching my Monster Hunter itch without some of the tedium of that franchise. The basic gameplay loop is as follows - gear up in town, talk to an NPC that keeps track of available mission, select one, choose a party and then head out. Once outside of the village you have a series of small areas (exactly the same type of layout as the Monster Hunter games), you work your way through them fighting all the while with your AI (or human) companions until an objective has been fulfilled, at which point you return to town and reap the rewards of a successful mission.

As you go through the missions you collect various items. These items can either be used for crafting, completing 'quests' (to gain extra rewards and extensions to storage facilities) or be sold for currency. With the currency you can either buy new equipment, man an offering before battle to get a random buff, give money to the Guardian Tree to receive a random reward or use it to level up your Mitama.

'What are Mitama?!' I hear you cry. Mitama are the souls of important historical figures rescued from the Oni that devoured them. Once rescued you equip them and they provide you with special abilities from healing and buffing to destructive magic. They are also a way for you to level up along with upgrading gear.

It is always a good idea to go through the menus to find out just what a Mitama's abilities do because out in the field of battle triggering one can feel like it hasn't done anything at all besides making a pretty light show. The effects become more pronounced as they gain higher level abilities. Like Pokémon they can only store a few abilities and must unlearn old ones in order to use newer, more powerful skills.

Each Mitama is represented with a beautifully illustrated art card in the same style as the art used during character conversations. These conversations happen entirely in Japanese with English subtitles. Sometimes Japanese voice work can be too high pitched for western ears, but the delivery in Toukiden Kiwami is excellent. Even the youngest Slayer manages to sound young without being grating.

The environmental art can feel a bit bland in places. This can be a little jarring because of the amount of time you spend running around the same maps. It's offset by the wonderfully detailed character models who flash around the battlefield with varied and fluid combat animations. Because the gameplay is designed around a short loop the familiarity you gain with each map feels comforting, as most of the time you know exactly where to go to achieve a goal and get back to town.

Personally, I stopped noticing the environments after a while, except for when I ran in to an area that I wasn't overly familiar with. This isn't strictly a bad thing - if you enjoy this game you'll find that it becomes that game you play when you have ten to twenty minutes to burn whilst waiting to leave the house.

You may notice that I am talking about this game as if it is one game and not a re-master and sequel. This is because the two flow together perfectly. Systems from Kiwami are found throughout the content from Age of Demons and the only real sign you've moved from one game to the other is a change in scenery and the cast of characters expands quickly.

There is a lot to love about Toukiden Kiwami - from the colourful and likeable cast of characters to the simple to pick up, difficult to master combat. Among my favourite parts of the game is hunting down and slaying the large scale Oni and getting a bonus for collecting every body part that I managed to blow off of their bodies. The upgrade from PS Vita to PS4 has left a few rough edges, but not enough to condemn it in an shape or form.

+ Enjoyable combat
+ Quick, addictive gameplay loop
+ Beautiful character art
+ well done Japanese voice acting

- Environmental art upgrade isn't that great
- Can feel repetitive

SPOnG score: 8/10

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