Toukiden Kiwami has arrived at just the right time for publisher KOEI Tecmo. Developed by Dynasty Warriors studio, Omega Force, this revamped version of last year’s demon-slaying RPG is looking to plug the hole left vacant by the absence of a decent multiplayer action game on the PlayStation 4.
Similar to Omega’s recent Bladestorm: Nightmare, Toukiden Kiwami isn’t what you would classify as a conventional sequel. It’s more of a remake, brought up to date by a raft of improvements, more content, and some new game features. Kiwami also marks the fledgling IP’s debut on home consoles which is great news for multiplayer action fans fed up of turning to their 3DS or Vita for a quick fix.
Although the game tries its best to make you care about the lore and setting, Toukiden’s laboured methods of storytelling still do little to spark interest, especially if you’re not fluent in Japanese. The emphasis on prolonged dialogue between characters results in a pacing issue with many of the game’s missions sandwiched between exhaustive walls of text. If, like some, you prefer to simply get stuck into the action, following Toukiden’s story beats isn’t needed to enjoy the game for what it is.
For those unfamiliar with the original, Toukiden can be compared to similar game series such as God Eater, Freedom Wars, and of course, Monster Hunter. There is a predominant focus on fighting against huge, boss-like demons which can be harvested for a variety of helpful resources. In-between missions these are then used to generate money as well as craft new gear such as armour and weapons.
Speaking of weapons, these ultimately determine the feel and flow of gameplay, each one having its own pros and cons. For instance, daggers allow you to get in close with a flurry of high speed attacks but drain stamina quickly. The bow, on the other hands, allows players to strike their targets from afar while keeping an eye on how their fellow slayers are holding up.
Kiwami brings three new weapon types to the table. First up is the Naginata, a bladed spear that offers a versatile offensive approach to combat. Then there’s the Club, a slightly slower, more powerful weapon that will dish out extra damage if players can strike their enemies using its tip. Finally, we have the rifle which can be likened to the bow. The key difference here however is the addition of grenades as well as various ammo types.
In addition to weapons, players can equip entities known as Mitama. These spirits imbue slayers with all sorts of perks and bonuses but, more importantly, define their role within battles. There are several flavours of Mitama, each one offering four main abilities that can be used in the heat of battle. Attack Mitama, for instance, will bolster one’s offensive capabilities while also allowing them to convert damage into restored health. Healing and Support Mitama, on the other hand, offer skills that benefit an entire team, increasing their all-round survivability.
The mission-heavy structure in Toukiden won’t be to everybody’s taste. Instead of playing through a story-driven campaign, players are given the freedom to pick up contracts as they wish and then head into the field, whether riding solo or online with other slayers. The latter method is by far the most enjoyable way of playing the game, bringing down huge demons together using fluid teamwork. The lobby system isn’t that great, however. Although functional, it limits rooms to just four players instead of allowing larger numbers of users to mill around in social hubs.
Grinding is another thing that is sure to ward off a number of prospective fans as well. Games like Toukiden, Monster Hunter, and their ilk are all built around the concept, encouraging players to fight the same creatures over and over until they have truly mastered them. Playing with friends can help to take the edge off this grind but it’s still there and makes up a core part of the overall experience.
On Vita, Kiwami looks more or less the same than it did in the original Toukiden, sporting a range of new weapon and armour designs. On PlayStation 4, however, Omega Force has once again demonstrated its penchant for enhanced lighting and character models. It’s not the best looking game you’ll find on Sony’s newest system yet there’s a good amount of creative work on show.
If you’re pining for a Monster Hunter style game on console or simply waiting for Dragon’s Dogma Online or Deep Down to come along, Toukiden Kiwami offers more than just a stopgap. Although still in its infancy, the IP is certainly going places. It will be interesting to see what Omega Force will do next when, hopefully, it decides to launch a sequel.