Toukiden: Kiwami Review – Many Weapons, Many Oni (PS4)
It would be hard to write a review of Toukiden: Kiwami without comparing it to the Monster Hunter games. Both games set the player out to kill monsters and use their remains to craft things. They are also both set in similarly small villages with similar layouts, and each title features a large variety of weapons. At first, Toukiden seems like a pale imitation of Monster Hunter, but after only a couple of hours into the game, you’ll realize that the games are actually two different beasts entirely.
The Little Story of an Oni Killer
Unlike Monster Hunter, Toukiden’s plot moves beyond the typical “this creature bothers me, so I’m going to kill it” storyline. After spending a few minutes in a somewhat bland character creation process, players are thrown into a small village that is being attacked by Oni. They then are introduced to a large cast of characters, each with his or her own motives, personalities, and back-stories. It is by talking with these characters that the seemingly simple idea of protecting a village from demons becomes something far more interesting and far more complex. Even though the quality of the dialogue falls a little short, the characters are brought alive thanks to the party-based combat system.
In Toukiden, many of the same characters that are wandering around the village are also able to join the player in combat. Up to three other party members may accompany players on their missions, and each character has a different weapon and skill set. Although they generally just end up wildly attack nearby monsters, it can be useful to, say, choose a character with a bow and a rifle to accompany you while you attack enemy up close with a sword or a mace. If Toukiden does one thing really well, it’s the weapons. Not only is their a fairly long list of different weapon classes for the player to choose from, but each weapon can be upgraded. During my time with Toukiden, I tried out every single weapon, from gauntlets, to dual swords, to various polearms, and even rifles. Each weapon type plays completely different, and it can be a lot of fun switching up your weapon on every mission you embark on. Of course, it is also a great deal of fun to change up your Mitama as well.
Mitama, essentially, are souls that the Oni have captured, and they can be freed after defeating certain Oni — typically the “boss” ones. Mitama can then be applied to your weapons, giving your character special skills. For example, some Mitama allow your character heal other characters, while another might allow you to move faster or ever fire a magical bolt. Choosing which ones to pair up with which weapons can actually become deeply strategic, and it becomes even more strategic when trying to determine which Mitama you should use based on what your party members are using. Almost every boss Oni I encountered unlocked a new Mitama, so it soon becomes almost overwhelming when trying to pick which one you want to use.
That Seems Familiar
Boss Oni, by the way, are generally huge, angry beasts that take a lot of time and skill to kill, as the player must methodically attack certain parts of their armor until they become vulnerable. Unfortunately, while these massive Oni provide Toukiden with something a little more strategic than your typical hack-‘n’-slash gameplay, they are often repeated. Many missions will have you defeat the same boss Oni that you defeated only a few missions before. Sure, you’ll unlock a new Mitama to use, but at the cost of spending 15 minutes fighting some Oni for the third time. This, I think, it probably Toukiden‘s biggest downfall. It beats you over the head with the same exact fun mission over and over again until you never want to play that mission ever again. But then, of course, the game forces you to play it again.
Sadly, players don’t have much of a choice if they don’t want to go through the same mission a bunch of times. Toukiden doesn’t allow the same freedom of movement that Monster Hunter allows, meaning players can only explore the environments and gather materials in the confines of a mission. If you’re a little short on a certain type of material that could be used to upgrade a weapon or craft a piece of armor, then you’re stuck replaying a couple of missions. Couple that with the boss battles that get repeated again and again, and the whole of Toukiden ends up feeling pretty tedious.
But, other than being annoyingly repetitive, Toukiden: Kiwami is a fun game. Thanks to a large amount of weapons and armor to choose from, and characters that not only exist as chattable civilians but also as bloodthirsty warriors, you can spend a lot of enjoyable hours on Toukiden. If you’re a fan of either Monster Hunter of the Dynasty Warrior titles, you might want to give it a try.
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