By – Thomas Faust

Toukiden Kiwami Review He

Ever since the original Monster Hunter was released on Sony’s PlayStation 2 in 2004, the hunter genre has slowly and steadily gained momentum and popularity. Hunter games feature slow-paced gameplay, a high learning curve, and usually offer hundreds of monster-slaying hours. This has made them an acquired taste, but the fandom is ever growing and not just confined to eastern shores anymore. Apart from the Monster Hunter series, there have been an increasing number of similar games that have mostly been released on Sony consoles. PC gamers were completely left out until recently, when KOEI TECMO ported over Toukiden Kiwami from the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. This expanded version of the original Vita release, Toukiden: The Age of Demons, is the first game of its kind to hit western gaming PCs.

In Toukiden Kiwami, your job is to protect a small village from an invasion of oni, demonic beings that appeared years ago in a cataclysmic event called The Awakening. A small band of brave hunters supports you on the battlefield and offers the backdrop for the game’s story. They aren’t especially memorable or original and the unfolding events are somewhat predictable, but you will nevertheless grow to like Toukiden’s cast. The game is divided into 12 chapters, with each one consisting of mandatory and voluntary missions. As a skilled player, you could probably blaze through the main missions in a few hours, but you’ll want to take it slow and do the optional quests in order to get better equipment.

As is par for the course in the hunter genre, character progression is tied entirely to your equipment. Crafting and wearing better weapons and armor makes you stronger and more resilient. This constant need for shiny new stuff is the driving force behind the whole genre. Additionally, you’ll find Mitama on the battlefield. These are spirits of legendary warriors, which you can bind to your weapon or even use in the crafting of extra-strong arms. The more experience a specific Mitama gains, the more passive skills it unlocks. Equipping different Mitama can shape your character even further and allows for a wide range of playing styles. And with more than 300 Mitama to be found, you’ll be busy for a while if you choose to engage in this almost Pokémon-like metagame. Similarly, each of the nine weapon types has a whole lot of different models with varying strengths and elemental affinities. Having a large collection of pretty weaponry not only satisfies the need to have lots of shiny things – something of a character flaw that the hunter genre mercilessly exploits – it’s also immensely useful when encountering large oni with elemental weaknesses.

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The meat and potatoes of Toukiden Kiwami are certainly the missions themselves. Most of the time, your goal will be to hunt down and slay a certain number of oni. Smaller demons are basically cannon fodder and only ever dangerous if they swarm you. The bigger oni are the main attraction: hulking monstrosities that fill the whole screen and require a lot of teamwork to bring down. Focusing your attacks on different body parts allows you to sever them from the oni’s body, which weakens them further and nets you additional resources. You then have a small window of opportunity to perform a ritual on these severed body parts. If you’re too slow, the oni regain their limbs and even grow stronger in the process. Compared to other hunter games, the pacing is fast and the fact that you’re accompanied by computer-controlled companions most of the time allows for some spectacular action-filled battles. Missions usually take around ten to fifteen minutes to complete, and you’ll spend most of the time engaged in battle instead of stalking your prey.

With seven melee and two ranged weapon types to choose from, you would expect that some of them play alike. Instead, they all handle differently, with varied attack speed and, most importantly, special attacks. Spears let you take to the air and swoop down on your foes, while the unwieldy gauntlets can set your enemies on fire. My personal favorite has been the Naginata, which allows for some fluid combos and makes you move faster the longer your attack streak is. It also lets you block incoming attacks, which is something not all weapons are able to do. It takes a while to get familiar with the whole set of weaponry, but once you found some equipment that matches your playing style, you’ll probably stick with it for the rest of the game. However, nobody is stopping you from switching to another kind of weapon, should you ever grow tired of your current gear.

There are even more things to do outside of combat. For instance, a magical tree serves as an item lottery of sorts. The more money you spend on it, the better those item drops will be. In a similar matter, the Pool of Purity bestows random temporary boosts if you take a bath in between missions. You might even meet one of your companions and enjoy some (completely innocent) shared bathing time for additional boosts. There are also the Tenko, magical foxes you can send into the other world to gather items for you. However, they need to be fed occasionally, and buying them lunch boxes and sweets costs money. The extra trouble is certainly worth it, since all of these things cut down on the grind of searching for crafting materials or lead to critical advantages on the battlefield. Still, Toukiden requires a certain tolerance for grind and repetitive actions. You’ll be impressed the first time you encounter a new giant oni, but decidedly less so if you slay the same beast for the twentieth time in order to get some rare crafting materials. That being said, there is always something to strive for, be it more powerful gear, achievements, or story progress.

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Toukiden Kiwami has online multiplayer as well. Instead of story chapters, you have so-called phases, which offer roughly the same missions. Unfortunately, while you can tackle all available missions in all game modes with the same character, your single player and multiplayer progress is divided. This means that even though you might be dozens of hours into the story, you’ll have to start with the beginner multiplayer phases and work your way up. It feels like a waste of time and is made even worse for the fact that any multiplayer group can only take on quests that the weakest player unlocked, which leads to you being kicked out of groups if you happen to be the one with the least multiplayer progress. In light of the waning community for this title, this doesn’t bode well for the multiplayer future of Toukiden Kiwami and makes the purchase of the additional co-op DLC somewhat pointless. If you’re specifically looking forward to playing online and own one of the current gen Sony consoles, it might be worth buying that version instead, since the odds of finding other people to play with are greater on consoles at the time of writing.

The game offers the standard range of graphical customization options and generally ran fine on my system. Its framerate, however, is locked at 30fps. Sadly, this cannot be circumvented after a recent patch and led to the game running at double speed before. It’s worth noting that the controls don’t feel sluggish in battle. On the other hand, that’s an impression based on personal preference and there might be players out there who would prefer faster-paced and smoother gameplay. Another point of contention is the complete lack of mouse controls. If you don’t own a gamepad, you’ll have to make do with the rather awkward keyboard controls, but I found them to be almost unplayable.

Some usability issues, like the need to exit the game from a save point, were also quite annoying. In short, everything about Toukiden Kiwami unfortunately screams lazy console port.  Additionally, if you’re using Windows 8.1 as OS and an NVIDIA GPU, you should give Toukiden Kiwami a wide berth. Apparently there are countless performance issues with this combination. This is also mentioned on the game’s Steam page. Sadly, this is not where the trouble ends. Toukiden Kiwami requires an active internet connection and cannot be run in Steam’s Offline Mode. This might be an instant deal breaker for anyone with a spotty internet connection.

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Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Toukiden Kiwami and will likely continue to do so for many, many hours. It’s a fast-paced hunter game, which is a rare occurrence on the PC.  The usual caveats that go along with this genre apply: this is a grindy, repetitive affair that requires a certain commitment from its players, and it will take you an awfully long time to beat.  However, technical issues and the always online requirement may prevent it from reaching a wider audience. In light of these problems, and without a demo, the $59.99 price tag might not be a gamble worth taking.

Toukiden Kiwami Technical Summary:

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  • Time Played – 34 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Several Performance Issues
  • Control Scheme – Gamepad, Keyboard, no mouse controls
  • DRM – Steam (Always Online Required)
  • System Specs – 3.5Ghz AMD FX-6300, AMD Radeon R9 270X, 8GB RAM
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No
  • Version Played – 1.0.3
  • Saved Game Location – %USERPROFILE%\Documents\KoeiTecmo\TOUKIDEN KIWAMI\Savedata\
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