Friday, April 22, 2016

Review #322: Toukiden Kiwami

 Playstation's answer to Monster Hunter.
 Capcom may have brought, exclusively, the Monster Hunter series to Nintendo, but Playstation fans have now got a substitute in Toukiden. Soul Sacrifice was a nice alternative to MH, it was the same type of game, but with relatively different mechanics, Toukiden, on the other hand, is as close to Monster Hunter as you can get without being a rip-off.

 If there's one field every Monster Hunter clone has bested Monster Hunter in is on the story, and this game is no exception. Basically, a few years ago the 'Awakening' happened, which brought demons, or Oni, into the world, and now humans fight for survival. You play as a new arrival, a created character of your choice, to the Utakata Village, and quickly prove your worth as an Slayer. And y'know, being one of these games, your character actually has some particular abilities unique to himself that quickly make him stand out from the rest. On the hunt you'll be joined by 7 other hunters, each one having their own story arc to go through, and while they are not mindblowing, they are interesting at the very least. I absolutely loved the Japanese art direction they took, Oni are clearly inspired in Japanese folklore and ancient art, while the armor pieces are very, very Japanese,
 I've seen this game described as 'Monster Hunter meets Dynasty Warriors', and as someone who has invested quite some time on the Warriors games, I can safely say that they are wrong. This game isn't even remotely similar to Dynasty Warriors, except, maybe, on the armor designs. The game follows a very simple formula: Go out with up to three CPUs, or players, hunt a big bad boss, get its drops, forge armor and weapons for said parts, slay the boss again and again until you finish your set, and move onward towards a new boss. You don't really need to complete the armor sets, but you get special bonuses for full sets. Plus, most of them look really cool. On the game's defense, the grind seemed much more lenient than on Monster Hunter, bosses don't have as many different drops, and the drop rate for even the rarer drops wasn't too low. That said, you are bound to come across the lack of certain rare drops from rare small enemy spawns that are gonna drive you insane, but there's enough, although not a lot, of information online regarding enemy drops, rare enemy spawns and shiny pickups from each environment. And, if what I've said already didn't make it clear, Monster Hunter clones like this require a hefty time investment, while boss battles start relatively easy when compared to its peers, as soon as you hit Chapter 6, missions will get longer, and some drops will get rarer. As for the game itself, Chapters 1-7 took me about 30 plus hours, and then there's the Kiwami content(8-15) that lasts just as much, and then there's the Online missions, that can be played offline with CPU allies, which are another 15 phases. There's a lot to do in here.

 The game offers a more than decent amount of different weapons, and they each have different styles: The twin knives allow for easy aerial combos, fists allow you to deal extra damage if you time button presses, and rifles allow for distant combat, to name a few. There's bound to be at least one type of weapons that suits your style. Regardless, none of the movesets felt as... deep as movesets in Monster Hunter, but the game plays much, much faster which I liked a lot. The game also offers a ton of customization thanks to Mitama, orbs that grant the player passive effects, as well as different 'spell' set ups. And there's a ton of different spells, and once you get high tier weapons, you can carry more than one Mitama, which allows for a bigger spell pool, of up to four, and even more passive skills, up to three per Mitama. And these allow you to heal yourself, enhance your strength or even temporarily allowing you to leech life off enemies. It's also a lot easier, not only do you have 3 useful CPU allies that can revive you, but you can send your Tenko, a foxy creature of sorts, before each mission to gather materials from the environment, and if you send him to the stage the mission takes place, you may run across him and he'll aid you in battle! And, later on, you will also be able to send party members on previously cleared missions from previous chapters to gather even more materials, including boss materials.
 What sets it apart from Monster Hunter and its ilk is the Purifying system. You can't just damage a boss, not outright, instead you have to sever the physical manifestations of their body and purify them. You can use your mind's eye(Select button) to see what can be severed and how close to the fact it is. But once you sever a limb, you have to purify it, by standing over it and holding the R button until a gauge is depleted. If you take too long, the boss may absorb it back to their body! Dealing damage will increase a weapon gauge, CPUs have their own shared gauge as well, and once filled allow for powerful Destroyer attacks that will instantly cut off whichever limb they hate, but if you miss your target, you have to fill the gauge back up again. Regardless, once a part is purified, you will finally be allowed to damage the boss by hitting that body part. Bosses also have 'rage' meters, and when filled they glow purple, and any attack, anywhere, will hurt them directly. Lastly, bosses have alternate forms that they access after fulfilling certain conditions, some just require them hitting a certain HP percentage, while others will do it after losing all their limbs. It's fun, as some forms can be widely different from their normal form. What's not so fun are the subspecies, for the uninitiated, these games tend to have color variations of the bosses, and they usually have different patterns or attacks... here, they don't. They are exactly like their normal versions, but with different elemental attributes, and maybe more health and damage output.

 I think I may like Toukiden more than Monster Hunter. I think the Mitama system is better than having to produce and buy items, like potions, or whatever. It's more convenient and less time consuming. time better spent hunting monsters. While on Monster Hunter you have to catch bugs, with a net, minerals, with a pick-axe, fish, with a rod AND be on the look out for shiny spots on the ground, here you need only look for the shiny spots on the ground. Sending Tenko to the different environments, and party members on missions for even more materials help alleviate a lot of the unnecessary grinding, which I also found both convenient and smart. I like having actually useful party members, as opposed to silly little critters with limited damage output and uselessness of deciding to cure me after I healed me myself. And if you want to go oldschool, you can simply leave your party members behind. That said, I wasn't a big fan of the purifying system, however, the CPUs are relatively smart, so you can just focus on hacking and slashing away while some of them go stand over them and purify them for you,
 Toukiden Kiwami makes Toukiden - Age of Demons obsolete. The one immutable law of Monster Hunter clones is: It will have an enhanced remake, and this is that. It's got the entire vanilla game included, but it's also got more mission(Twice as many), more monsters(I think twice as well), more weapon types, and alongside the new bosses, new armor sets and weapons to craft from each. And you can carryover your AoD save. Basically, there's no reason as to why you shouldn't get Kiwami over vanilla Toukiden.

 Toukiden Kiwami is a fantastic game, it just might be my favorite Monster Hunter clone yet. It's probably the easiest one as well until you get into the latter chapters, some of the optional missions can be downright brutal. However, as much as I liked the game, these games are very, very repetitive, and as much as the game tries to alleviate the grind, you will eventually have to fight a boss more than once to craft that shiny new piece of armor, which is something to keep in mind. Regardless, for Monster Hunter fans that like the genre not exclusively for the challenge would do well to give it a look.
9.0 out of 10

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