Sony may have lost Capcom’s Monster Hunter series to the 3DS, but the Vita has had some excellent ‘hunter’ games like Soul Sacrifice Delta and Freedom Wars. Toukiden 2 is the latest monster hunter style game to be released on Vita and it sets itself apart by having a large open world for exploration, undertaking missions and for battling hideous creatures. It’s impressive how Omega Force has crafted such a large world with zero load times as you move between areas or as you enter and leave the hub town. However the impressive size of the open world has brought with it some compromises in other areas.
As soon as you finish designing your character, you’re immediately launched into battle to learn the controls by despatching a few monsters, called Oni. At that point, a massive Oni emerges from the clouds to destroy the village. However, before it attacks, the player is transported away to a sunny meadow where you meet two of your future battle companions. You learn that you are now 10 years in the future but you risk being sucked back to your original time unless you form bonds with other Oni slayers in your new time period. I found the story interesting and wanted to learn more about what had happened in the past and how the player had time travelled. There were many NPC’s to meet in the game and recruit to fight alongside you as you cleanse the world of Oni. Most of the battle companion NPCs were interesting and well fleshed out and they really grew on me as I progressed through the game. Conversations with NPCs included dialog options however these didn’t seem to have much bearing on the game. I found in some instances, I chose one dialog option but it seemed like the NPC was answering as if I had selected a different option.
I mentioned that the open world nature of the game brought compromises and these came in the form of the graphics for the backgrounds and environments. I found they lacked detail and looked blurry. There was one close up of a globe early on in the game that looked worse than some PSP games I had played. I also found many of the standard enemies looked like dark generic creatures. Omega Force clearly had to make compromises to fit the game on Vita compared to the PS4 version. Fortunately, the player character and NPCs looked good as did the boss monsters, who were large, varied and detailed.
The gameplay and battle system were fun. Each weapon type had a variety of combos and special attacks, although I found for the most part just spamming the buttons in a random order to be effective. Early on in the game you obtain a large demon hand to use for attacking and it can be used to grab onto monsters and pull yourself towards them. Flying towards a giant monster and slicing off a limb was very satisfying. You also obtain the souls of former slayers, called Mitama. Each Mitama can be equipped to give the player access to different abilities. Fighting the bosses pretty much required the use of Mitama abilities to power up attacks, create a temporary shield or to heal when you take damage. You venture into battles with up to 3 battle companions. The story missions may require you to have a specific party set up but you can choose your companions for the optional missions.
I did experience the occasional slow down during battles. Most fights with the large Oni involve just one of them against your party but there were times when smaller enemies were also present and I found this resulted in slow downs.
The open world is massive and most missions involve following the arrow to find the boss monster you need to kill. I was impressed with the size of the world but aside from a some enemies dotted around the map, a few quests and some items to find there was very little there. Your slayer does not level up through killing Oni. Your stats improve based on crafting new weapons and armour or upgrading your existing ones. Killing enemies can result in obtaining useful crafting and upgrading materials but I found very little benefit to taking the time to kill the minor enemies. I tended to run straight towards the objectives and my party despatched any enemies that crossed our path and they collected the materials without me having to spend any time fighting them. It took away from the impressiveness of the open world to have very little to do there and little incentive to do anything other than run to the objective. Additionally, you find portal stones in the world so that you can fast travel to different areas and save time even running through the world.
The difficulty of the game was fair. The first two chapters were not particularly difficult, but I found the difficulty ramped up from chapter 3 onwards. Some bosses took a long time to kill due to them having a lot of HP. Despite there being a lot of different combos and special moves available to each weapon type, it was hard at times to see them making a dent in a boss Oni’s health due to the high HP. The NPC party was very capable, almost too powerful. For one early boss I decided just to stand back and see if my party could take it out and they did! This tactic didn’t work for later chapters of the game but for the first 2 chapters you could get away with doing very little. My party members hardly died at all during my play through so theoretically you could spend most of the early missions running to the boss, waiting for your party to kill it and then moving on to the next mission. Although it can be slow to let your party handle battles alone. It is much faster to join in the combat.
You can also play missions with other players online. Given I was playing during launch week, it was somewhat disappointing to see only a few active lobbies but joining other player’s games was simple and took less than a minute. The missions I did with other players were very easy and bosses died much faster than when I fought them with NPCs. It wasn’t clear to me if this was due to the lobby host selecting easier missions or due to all the players having over powered equipment.
The Vita fan in me wanted to love Toukiden 2. A large, open-world action, RPG on the Vita is the type of game I would normally embrace. While I enjoyed the story, the empty world, button-mashy combat and sub-standard graphics left me feeling overall unimpressed.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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