It’s the way of the game industry that when something is popular there are going to be dozens and dozens of clones. This simple fact drives the entire indie games scene and naturally it comes up time and time again in traditionally published games as well. Toukiden was originally Koei’s Japanese-flavored attempt to grab some of the success of Capcom’s legendary Monster Hunter series; it was actually pretty good, though, with a faster pace and more user-friendly style that helped distinguished it from the original.
Today we’ve got Toukiden: Kiwami (“Extreme”), an expansion to the original PS Vita game that adds plenty of new content for those who just couldn’t get enough demon slayin’ the first time around. Or didn’t have the console. Or both.
Toukiden casts you as a Slayer, a member of an elite force that fights to protect innocents from vicious demons known as Oni. The rise of the Oni has caused a temporal and spatial rift to mix various periods and locations from Japanese history together, so you’ll be battling in thematic “Ages” rather than any particular place. You can team up with other Slayers to get the job done as well as various NPCs.
You’ve got two primary tools with which to battle Oni. First, naturally, is your choice of weapon. There’s eight different options available, ranging from the versatile Longsword to the slower and more powerful Gauntlets, and three of those are newly introduced in Kiwami. The Naginata is a very fast polearm that rewards precise play; landing successful strikes will enhance the wielder’s attack speed and damage significantly, but taking hits will end the effect. The Spiked Club, meanwhile, is a slow but powerful weapon reminiscent of Monster Hunter’s classic Great Sword. While it does a ton of damage, the slower pace doesn’t fit in very well with the high-speed gameplay characterizing most of Toukiden’s hunt. Finally, the Rifle is the game’s second ranged weapon, a slower option that focuses on versatility. You’re able to change your gun’s ammunition to suit the situation, allowing you to lay down vacuums or do intense damage to an enemy’s weak spots.
Weapons alone won’t be enough, though, so your other combat aid is your Mitama. These are spiritual boons granted by the displaced souls of Japanese heroes from history and folklore. You’re able to select three Mitama; one is a “primary” Mitama which determines your character’s property and active boosts, while the other two are “secondary” Mitama that only provide passive boosts. Mitama each represent one of nine properties, ranging from the more basic Attack and Defense to the esoteric Deceit, Space and Luck. The powers these offer can be as simple as Attack’s self-buffing skills to Space’s teleportation to Luck’s ability to randomly use any other Mitama’s skill; they also replace Monster Hunter’s tradition of having you carry usable items into combat. Kiwami introduces another couple properties as well, Plunder, which focuses on breaking parts off of Oni and offers rewards for doing so, and Support, which revolves around reducing damage dealt to your allies. Both weapons and Mitama can be leveled up with use and money, so there’s quite a bit of customization available.
The Oni themselves are a wide and varied lot representing all manner of Japanese mythological standbys. The original featured murderous giant turtles, birds and wolves, along with more bizarre creatures like the many-armed Harrowhalf. Kiwami adds plenty of new Oni to the rogue’s gallery, most notably the foxlike Snowflame that serves as the game’s mascot, as well as the nekomata Mynx and many others. You won’t see much of the new Oni until later in the game, but since Kiwami includes the entire original game and also allows you to import your save file, you won’t have any trouble with missing content.
You can hunt Oni both new and old in the game’s story mode, which has been significantly extended for Kiwami and introduces new NPC Slayers to join you. Alternatively, and more likely, you can play online with friends and strangers alike. Toukiden: Kiwami’s online mode feels perfectly robust on PS4 and I didn’t have any connection issues during my time with it. Multiplayer is really the way to go here, especially if you’ve got some friends with the game.
The PS4 version of Toukiden is a graphical treat compared to the original Vita title. It’s still pretty clear the game was originally based off an engine designed for a less powerful system, but that doesn’t make all these monsters any less pretty. The particle effects in particular are lovely, and the new Oni especially benefit from the face-lift. As for sound, it’s basically exactly what you’d expect; the sound effects work, the music is nice Japanese fare and while there’s some degree of voice acting, it’s all in Japanese, which you probably expected coming in.
All in all Toukiden: Kiwami is a great successor to one of the better Monster Hunter clones to have emerged from that fad. The sheer depth of content available here make it easy to recommend to new players, while veterans will appreciate the ability to import their saves and keep on slaying. If you’ve got some friends who enjoy hunting-action games, well, is it even a question? Pick this up and get to killing.