Sony’s last generation of handhelds didn’t do so well in the United States. However, if there is one title that was considered the console’s saving grace, it would most likely be the Monster Hunter Series. Capcom’s extremely popular franchise about hunters hunting monsters, harvesting products from the land and kills, and making cool armor and weaponry just to be stronger to hunt even stronger monsters. Rinse and repeat the process, you have a game that has endless hours of gameplay with a goal worth achieving.
Monster Hunter however made its mark mostly on the PSP, but that soon would change as it seems Capcom has jumped ship from Sony with the fact both Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Monster Hunter 4 are only available on Nintendo platforms. Even though Capcom has announced that the Vita would get Monster Hunter Frontier G, that installment in the series is considered the worse one in the entire franchise. Enter Toukiden: The Age of Demons by Tecmo Koei. This title seems to deliver on two promises. First, it is considered the “Monster Hunter” fix for the Vita. Second, it is supposed to bring a new dynamic to the genre. So did this game deliver, or did it flop?
Toukiden: The Age of Demons is a strategic hack-and-slash action JRPG set in a fantasy version of Feudal Japan. Combining visual elements of both traditional Japanese history and Japanese folklore, the game presents itself as an alternative to most Feudal Japanese era-set games. Many characters from Japanese history such as Nobunaga Oda make appearances mostly in the form of spirits known as Miatama to just the presentation of architecture and design. One detail I truly admired was the finite detail of graphics which include leaves on trees, scales on the fish designed over open fires, and even the facial features of non-playable characters.
The story and characters are even good for this kind of game. Being this is considered a “Monster Hunter clone,” the story shouldn’t be so diverse. However, the story in this game is. You play as a character with plenty of customization. Your title is known as Slayer, which is a group of men and women tasked on protecting the people from demons. The demons however are beginning to formalize and it is up to the Slayers to find out their agenda and cease its advancement all for the protection of the people. There are even characters which stress the progression of the story out and provide it depth. Oka is considered the leader who tries her hardest to live up to the expectations of the village while Fukawa is a headstrong, stubborn man who speaks more with his fists than his mouth.
The dialogue fits well with the voice acting which is strictly Japanese. The music itself has a sense of ancient Japanese history in which traditional Japanese instruments such as seiko drums are utilized. In the end, the musical score fits with the game but doesn’t seem to stand out within the genre like the Halo series’ soundtrack, or the Final Fantasy series soundtracks.
This game seems to combine the best elements of two well-known Japanese titles and improve on them. The first is the Dynasty Warriors series in which hack-and-slash gameplay is a staple. The second is the Monster Hunter series in which customization, weapon types, and armor are important. Combining both of these gameplay elements together provide an experience that is both familiar yet an improvement from others that are in this same genre. True, Soul Sacrifice had somewhat the same gameplay similar to a Monster Hunter clone, but this game was more true to its originator.
Certain elements of gameplay include multiple attacks and special power-up buffs such as healing, leeching health from attacked enemies, or an increase in either offense or defense.
Replayability is very high for this game. Besides the main storyline, there are numerous missions to take up as well as the online and ad-hoc multiplayer. There is even downloadable content which could be purchased to add to the gameplay experience from buffs to extra missions.
Toukiden: The Age of Demons is a beautiful game on many anesthetics. The presentation is very straight-forward in its beautiful representation of feudal Japan ranging from graphics, voice acting, to music. The gameplay combines the best elements of other games to make a familiar yet different gaming experience. Finally, there is a lot to do. The one gripe about this game thus far is the easy learning curve. I’ve played this title for almost ten hours already. I am on chapter three and it doesn’t seem to get any harder.
For a price tag of $40, this game is well worth the buy just with how much you can do on single player alone. Add online or ad-hoc multiplayer along with downloadable content and customization, this game will provide hours of endless entertainment.
Final Score: 90/100
[Images Via blog.us.playstation.com]