Video Game Review: Toukiden: Kiwami
Huh, he only brought a demon to a rifle fight.
Toukien: The Age of Demons was originally released for the PlayStation Vita in 2013 by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force. Now, in 2015, PS4 owners are treated to the wonderful original game plus new quests, enemies and, most importantly, weapons. In Toukiden: Kiwami, you make a custom character to fight monsters of increasing size and ferocity to save the village of Ukataka.
If you played the original Toukiden or any of the Dynasty Warriors games, you’ll comfortably slip into Kiwami. The face buttons are assigned to attacks, but they can also be modified to use special powers when the R1 button is pressed. All of the attacks and buffs are clearly marked with its name and the R1 is also used for purification, so if an enemy has fallen or lost a limb, rush over and hold the button down to dissipate the evil and seal the enemy in death.
Staying on target can be pretty difficult with certain weapons, so being able to lock on with L1 is a life saver. However, sometimes it can be pretty wonky getting a lock. After a while it becomes pretty useless to lock onto anything, especially when you’re comfortable with your weapon. The directional pad is, however, uselessly bound as an alternative way to look around. So, you can use the d-pad or the right thumb stick to look around, the choice is yours.
If Toukiden: Kiwami is any indication of Omega Force’s determination, future games are going to look absolutely fantastic in comparison to what we are used to seeing it crank out. Although the main battle maps are broken into segments (with very short loading screens in between), each area is packed with voluminous fog or steam, sunshine cutting through branches and/or gorgeous waterfalls.
Attack combos are just as spectacular to observe, and the wide enemy variety will keep you in a perpetual state of interest. That being said, the monsters (or Oni) aren’t packed to the brim with polygons, lending to its Vita roots, but the textures have gotten a massive facelift and the creatures are more intimidating and terrifying than ever before.
Interestingly, there is no option to toggle to English audio, but the Japanese voiceovers are expressive and properly emotional. The orchestra score is the true highlight here, with pounding taiko drums and plucky, up-tempo shamisen chords accompanying the intense battles. It’s definitely enough to send you into a blood frenzy of demon killing rage.
Apart from the village of Ukataka itself, which is insanely constrictive in its movement allowance, Toukiden is nothing but a thrill kill on Oni. Ukataka has a home for your character, a smithy, a salesman, etc., but finding them is quite a challenge because you cannot rotate the camera to examine your surroundings. It’s like a 2D/3D blend in which you have to run along the foreground or background in order to find an entrance or exit, which is an unintended challenge added to the game.
After “navigating” the village and selecting your Quests, you embark onto the battlefield. Cooperating with either the AI allies you’ve selected, or preferably with a couple of your online pals, you slay fields of horrors and gigantic Oni that can dispatch you in only a few blows.
This all comes after a hefty amount of very simple quests, like Slay X of Y, Collect X amount of Y and so forth. Thankfully, due to the game design and combat system, it’s still fun to do those, just not as fulfilling as lopping off a huge Oni’s arm and racing to purify it with your friends.
What would a game be these days without a crafting system? Toukiden: Kiwami does let you build custom armour sets and weapons, and fit said weapons with a spirit of a great warrior who has fallen to a demon, called a Mitama. These souls can buff your stats or those of your allies, or grant bonuses against certain foes. Weapons can also simply be bought and then upgraded, which kind of de-emphasizes the crafting aspect down.
The combat can feel a bit sluggish at first, but believe us that it’s only because the pacing of the first couple hours worth of quests. After a while, combat feels appropriately smashing and weighty, so just give it a little bit of time.
Toukiden: Kiwami has a slow start, and maybe even a worthless crafting system, but the truth is that slaying demons with your friends is fun. With the feel of a Dynasty Warriors game, demons and co-op, it’s hard not to recommend Toukiden: Kiwami.