Toukiden Kiwami Review + Video Review

Kiwami

 

Title: Toukiden Kiwami
Developer: Omega Force, Tecmo Koei (Publisher)
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.2 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

Hunting RPG.  That is a term that all Vita fans should be very familiar with.  For the past couple generations, the handheld world has been filled with Hunting RPGs.  Some people call them Hunting games or raiding games.  Others call them Monster Hunters, because Monster Hunter is what originally made this genre popular.  Ever since last generation, there has been a huge increase in Hunting RPGs.

The Vita already has access to a lot of these games.  From the PSP library, there are games like God Eater Burst, Lord of Arcana, and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.  Natively, it has more.  Freedom Wars, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, Soul Sacrifice Delta, and Toukiden: Age of Demons are all games in this genre of Action RPG.  If you look outside of the Vita, the 3DS has also been getting this genre in the form of Final Fantasy Explorers and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

Today, I am here to give you a review on the newest Hunting RPG that’s become available to the PS Vita.  Just last week, a new “expanded release” has come to expand upon what was first shown to the handheld world with Toukiden: Age of Demons.  Considered an expansion and sequel to the original game, here is my official review of Toukiden: Kiwami!

Story

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Toukiden takes place in a Japanese-themed medieval world where humans wage war on demons called Oni.  8 years prior to the game’s events, there was an event known as the Awakening, where a gate opened between the human and Oni worlds and a massive horde of Oni flooded into the human world.  Since then, what is left of the villages of the human world live in refuge with a band of mercenaries known as The Slayers fight off the Oni in the hopes of taking back their world.

The story of Kiwami is divided into two sections.  You have Chapters 1-7, which is the complete story and post-game chapters from Age of Demons.  Then you have Chapters 8-16, which is a completely new story that takes place 3 months after the events of Age of Demons along with more post-game chapters.  In all actuality, the Kiwami story content nearly doubles the story content of the original game.  It’s got the most new story that I’ve seen in a Hunting RPG expanded release.

The story itself has a lot of presence as you play through the game.  You won’t be flooded with scenes like you are in Freedom Wars, but the story takes a big part of your game.  Each time a new Oni is introduced, it’s in the form of a story event, like someone being trapped or that particular type being connected to a character’s backstory.  There’s not a huge amount of story, but it has enough to keep you interested and show you a lot about the world’s story.

Gameplay

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Like other games of the genre, Toukiden Kiwami is a Hunting RPG.  As you play through the game, you and a party of AI or other players will be traveling through environments to take on enemies and large bosses in order to complete mission objectives and collect materials to create new equipment as well as equip-able souls called Mitama to enhance your skills.  While some of the missions will have various types of objectives, you will be going in and raiding areas regardless of what mission you’re on.

The first things to note are the improvements and additions in Kiwami.  Aside from the new story content and cross-play with the PS4 version of the game, Kiwami adds a lot of content that the original did not have.  There are new missions, new Oni types, new AI characters, hundreds of new pieces of equipment and weapons, a new Unity Attack you can perform with your allies, smarter AI, the ability to send AI characters on secondary missions to collect materials for you, an Ultimate Level for Mitama, as well as new Infinite Mission and Special Mission modes available.

When you start up the game, you will create your own customizable Slayer between Male, Female, hair styles and weapon of choice (though you can swap weapon types later on).  There are a lot of different styles of hair and body that you can choose from.  The weapon choices are all of the weapons from the original Toukiden, which are Sword, Twin Blades, Spear, Bow, Gauntlet, and Kusarigama (Scythe).  There are also 3 new weapon types exclusive to Kiwami: Naginata, Club, and Rifle.

Once you create your character, you will be able to explore your base of operations, which is the village of Utakada.  Here there are various areas to explore, from HQ, Your Home, and the Town.  In HQ, you can access missions, quests, the prayer box for stat boosts, and the encyclopedia.  In Your Home, you can change your equipment and hairstyle, save your game, look at mail from NPCs, and send your pet Tenko on missions to collect materials for you.

The Town has more to do.  There are shops where you can buy, create, and upgrade your items and equipment.  There is also an area where you can upgrade and level up your Mitama as well as a couple services to spend money to get new materials as well as stat boosts by spending time with other characters in the village.  Finally, there is a Teleport Stone that allows you to access the game’s multiplayer.

When you’re out on missions, you will travel through various areas as you search and complete objectives.  These areas are set in several different rooms and areas that you can move into, which progresses similar to Monster Hunter and Ragnarok Odyssey.  As you search these areas, there will be enemies to fight, items to find, and shrines to pray to for healing and regenerating skills you’ve used.

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The main things to watch as you play through missions are your Focus and Skills.  Whenever you do something, you use up part of your Focus meter, which functions as Stamina from other Hunting games.  If your stamina gets too low, you won’t be able to do much for a bit of time, from fighting to running.  This is especially important if you use your weapon’s Special Abilities that are much more powerful than normal attacks but use up a lot of Focus to do.

When you acquire and upgrade your Mitama, you can equip them onto your weapon and you will be able to use their skills in battle.  The skills vary, depending on what type of Mitama you use.  You can access these skills by entering the Rite of Purification stance, which is used for collecting materials from defeated enemies and enemy parts.  You have a certain number of each skill per mission and each has a recharge time once you use it once.  They can be from recovering HP to increasing attack to setting traps.  Skills are a big aspect of shortening missions.

The biggest aspects of fighting that makes Toukiden unique are boss parts and the Weapon and Unity gauges.  Your main goal to getting materials is breaking parts and limbs off of bosses and collecting them.  In most other Hunting games, these parts stay broken.  In Toukiden, they immediately grow back to not make the battles too easy for you.

The Weapon/Unity Gauges are also a factor.  As you fight and hit the enemy, both the Weapon and Unity gauges will slowly fill up.  When one of them is filled, you can perform a special “Ultimate Attack” that causes major damage and will automatically break a limb or part it is aimed at, most of the time.  The Unity Attacks are similar to this, but you must be near your allies in order to use this.  The difference is that the Unity Attacks will break several parts instead of just one.

Difficulty and Repetition are two final factors to note about the gameplay.  The game can be difficult or can be easy depending on which weapon type you choose and how quickly you can get into the system.  Many of the missions can be difficult, but it’s not going to be as hard as games like Freedom Wars and Monster Hunter.  I define it as the middle ground of the Hunting genre.  It’s not hardcore like some Monster Hunter games but it’s not casual like Ragnarok Odyssey.

Repetition is something that may get you, though.  This was a problem with the original game.  Especially in the early chapters, it will start to feel like you’re just fighting the same enemies and bosses over and over and over again.  Until more of the large bosses are introduced, you will find the missions very repetitive with a lack of variety in enemies.  If you can make it into Chapter 5 and beyond, it will become much less repetitive, though.  The more Oni you have unlocked, the more variety you have in missions.

Another area where you will feel things get repetitive is multiplayer.  You can progress through the game in Single Player, or you can progress in Multiplayer.  While the missions in Multiplayer are called “Phases” instead of Chapters, you will be doing the same you do in the story missions, but without the storyline involved.  So, if you do Chapter 1 of the story and then do Phase 1 of Multiplayer, it will feel like you’re doing the same thing all over again.

Another thing to note is that progress in Multiplayer is dependent on who is in your room, particularly the person who has made the least progress.  Let’s say I have progressed to Phase 7 of Multiplayer and I just finished up a Phase 7 mission.  Then you join my room and have only progressed to Phase 3.  When you join my room and we go to select a mission, we will only have access to missions up to Phase 3.

Once you get past the repetitive sections, you will find that Toukiden Kiwami has a lot of content for you to explore.  Across the original and new stories involved, it should take you between 40 and 45 hours to play the game up until the final boss of the Kiwami chapters.  I clocked 25 hours at the final boss of Chapter 5 and 44 hours at the final boss of Chapter 12.  This makes Kiwami of the most lengthy of the Vita hunting games, not even taking post-game content into account.

Controls

The controls for Toukiden Kiwami is a bit of a mixup of touch and button controls.  There are some touch controls that are more convenient than the button alternatives, but nothing in the game is exclusive to the touch screen.  Anything that can be controlled with touch can also be controlled through buttons via the menus.  However, some of these take a longer amount of time, like sending out Orders.  That, specifically, is more useful to just tap the screen than stop while you’re fighting a boss to navigate a couple menus.

Controlling your character is done by means of the Left Analog Stick and you can move the camera with the Right Analog Stick.  The D-Pad is mostly used to navigate menus and isn’t used for most of the game.  The face buttons and the triggers will be used a lot, though.  The X and Circle buttons will be used for interacting with NPCs as well as going in and out of menus when you’re not out on a mission.

When you’re out on a mission, you will be using the X button to roll and dodge away from enemy attacks and the rest of the face buttons for different types of attacks (or for reloading if you’re using a Rifle) as well as activating Mitama Skills.  The L trigger can be used to lock onto an enemy or boss part and the R button can be used to run or the Rite of Purification.  The Select Button can activate the Eye of Truth to see enemy health and hidden items and the Start button can be used to access the menu.

All in all, there aren’t a huge amount of confusing control schemes to get used to.  One bright side is that if you’re playing on the PlayStation TV, you can use L2 to access AI Orders instead of using the makeshift touch controls.  All of the controls are also explained to you very well in the tutorials so as long as you do the training sessions for the weapons you want, there shouldn’t be much confusion for how to do what during the game.

Presentation

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The presentation is one of the brighter points about Toukiden Kiwami, as it was in the original Toukiden.  First of all, the visual presentation looks very impressive for a Vita game.  There is an extensive amount of detail and it’s hard to find many jagged edges on the character models.  It’s not as polished and near-flawless as Freedom Wars’ cell-shading and doesn’t have the environment detail the PS4 version has, but it’s one of the better-looking Vita games this year.  Playing it on the PlayStation TV makes me see that it could probably pass for a PS3 title.

There are a couple things to note about the presentation.  First of all, the load times aren’t as bad as one may think.  When you go out on a mission, expect to wait around 8-10 seconds to go by before you go into a mission.  It’s not a particularly long time, especially considering how the visual presentation is on the game.

The only downer about the presentation is slowdown.  When you’re in some missions, you will notice that certain animations will slow down at certain times but will be fine at other times.  With Rifle, specifically, I found that going into the Special Attacks right after activating the Carnage skill at the beginning of a boss fight would cause some slowdown for a few seconds.  At first, I thought nothing of it.  However, it happened to me several times when doing that same set of actions as I played the game.  It didn’t bother me since I did ranged play with rifle, but I could see it causing considerable problems if you’re a melee fighter.

Summary

Toukiden Kiwami is one of the most extensive Hunting RPGs available on the Vita.  On the downside, there is a feeling of repetition in the early chapters of the game and there are slowdown issues with certain actions during missions.  Outside of this is an in-depth Hunter that will keep you slaying demons for a long time, be it with your favorite AI characters or with your Vita and PS4 friends. 

8/10

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