Review: Toukiden 2 sees more Slayers striking back

Main series Monster Hunter games don’t appear on Sony platforms anymore. Monster Hunter Frontier Z aside, it’s been years since Monster Hunter Portable 3rd graced the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3, leaving other companies to pick up the communal creature questing. God Eater installments aside, Koei Tecmo’s Toukiden has stepped up to offer a similar sort of experience. Enter Toukiden 2, an even more refined experience that offers more hunts, greater variety and extra opportunities to interact with fellow Slayer players.

The original Toukiden alluded to an event called the Awakening. Apparently, Oni always existed in the world, as did Slayers ready to fight them. On one night 10 years ago, the Oni overwhelmed the world and caused the Otherworld areas to permeate through into our own. While we always had some idea of what happened, Toukiden 2 introduces us to a man or woman who was there when the Awakening happened. This particular Slayer is taking part in a battle at Yokohama, attempting to hold back the invading forces. Except a gigantic Oni appears, sucks this warrior into an Oni Gate, and leaves him or her displaced outside Mahoroba Village ten years later. With no apparent way to get back and possibly being pulled out of existence due to being in an age with no connections or ties, it’s up to players to make their Slayers part of a community and continue their fight against horrifying monsters and overwhelming odds.

While there are many different abilities and skills available to a Slayer, Toukiden 2’s battles remain fluid and simple experiences.

Toukiden 2 is a mission-based game set in something of an open world. Don’t expect something like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but do expect some rather varied regions to investigate. You head to Slayer headquarters, take a mission either offline with virtual companions or online with other people. After receiving an objective, you head out into the surrounding area to defeat the Oni lurking about. When a mission begins, it clearly lays out your objectives. The mini-map offers an arrow directing you where to go and highlights enemies and other points of interest. If there’s a particular opponent to defeat, you’ll even see a red rectangular area showing where you need to stay as you face specific foes. AI allies can be directed to act in particular ways, to ensure you have the proper support, while a hunter can easily trigger Mitama abilities with the press of a few buttons.

While there are many different abilities and skills available to a Slayer, Toukiden 2’s battles remain fluid and simple experiences. Your character can equip bows, clubs, chain-sickle kusarigamas, chain whips, gauntlets, knives, naginata polearms, rifles, spears, swords and swords with shields, with no limitations locking you into specific weapons. These can be used for light, heavy, special and body part-breaking attacks. Mitama abilities can be triggered by pressing a trigger and a button, offering offensive and defensive skills. Demon Hand abilities can be used to attack, parry or destroy parts of an Oni’s body in battle, as well as travel around the field, grant elemental abilities to your weapon and decimate certain items in the area. Each concept is well explained and easy to use, resulting in a game where even someone coming to it for the first time can quickly adapt to situations and be a capable warrior.

It’s just as easy to work with other people, which is much appreciated. The Command Hub allows you to find people to directly work with. The Joint Operations option lets you stumble across people while wandering around the field, either actual people or copies of people you know who happened to also own and play the game. There are even often Reliquaries scattered along paths, letting you leave an item to take a piece of equipment. In a game where it’s established that many Slayers are roaming around, patrolling and keeping the world’s remaining people safe, the plethora of ways to actually interact helps maintain the illusion that this is actually so. Granted, it wasn’t particularly easy to find and participate in any of these activities ahead of launch, but the diversity is appreciated.

As is the attempt to make Toukiden 2’s relationships matter more. This is one of those series where interacting with characters makes them like you, which can in turn lead to certain scenes. While previous installments made it seem like camaraderie and fanservice, here it serves a purpose. Our Slayers are displaced in time. If they don’t form bonds with people in the time they currently inhabit, they could find themselves lost. It suddenly makes these interactions feel more poignant. It’s appreciated; I felt more motivated to interact with more people than usual as a result.

While there are many different abilities and skills available to a Slayer, Toukiden 2’s battles remain fluid and simple experiences.

There’s really only one thing I feel holds Toukiden 2 back, and that’s the way it looks. This is one of those Koei Tecmo games designed for multiple platforms. In an effort to create something that can run on a PlayStation Vita, the PlayStation 4 version suffers. The cutscenes don’t look as crisp or detailed as you’d expect. I noticed some frame rate issues in particularly frantic battles. There’s a certain lack of fidelity that only comes from watering down a game on one platform so it can exist on others.

On the whole, Toukiden 2 is a rather accessible game. It controls well and offers enough opportunities to allow anyone to ease into adventuring and become a master Slayer. Battling offline and online is easy, thanks to AI companions that actually contribute and opportunities to find actual people. The story gives a good overview of the situation, so everyone can easily catch up. It may not always look gorgeous, but it’s a competent, mission-based action-RPG.

Score: 8/10
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Developer: Omega Force
Platform(s): PS4, Vita, PC
Questions? Check out our review guide.
A review copy was provided by the publisher or developer for this review.

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