Toukiden: The Age of Demons is an odd beast. It not only borrows elements from the Monster Hunter franchise, but instead copies them like for like, under the disillusioned hope that it can differentiate itself enough from it’s source material. In doing so, however, it somehow manages to make itself less appealing than it’s primary influence, instead trying to throw some sort of narrative on top of the whole affair, as well as diminishing the difficulty and strategy that Monster Hunter fans have known to come and love. Is it still fun though?
It’s a standard affair from the get-go. Basic character customisation ensues, including both sexes to choose from, with the standard gravity defying Japanese hair configurations that we’ve seen across multiple games before. You choose a name, and you’re set into the wide open world almost immediately, after a tutorial-type fight with a large beastie. Obviously you’ll choose your weapon type, but the basics are in here. Large sword that’s average and easy to you? Check. Dual knives that are weaker, but give you speed as an advantage? Present. See, you’re a Slayer (not in the Buffy-eqsque way unfortunately), but due to the nonsensical narrative that happens both before and after the fight, you’ll soon switch off entirely and just skip through it. It doesn’t improve after. Every game mechanic has some back story as to why they’re important, and what purpose they serve, but it all ends up falling on deaf ears. A “Mitama” is an example of this. In the story, it’s the soul of a fallen warrior that has been taken by an Oni. All you’ll care about is that it provides extra buff’s to your character to make them that bit more proficient at killing generic, weak enemies.
Regardless, you join your band of merry , albeit generic, heroes and slay things, much like the mission structure of Monster Hunter. You do this by talking to a “quest-giver” (for lack of a better title) in your small, lifeless village, that contains blacksmiths, venders, and your own house. Can you see what I’m trying to get at yet? This game is, fundamentally, a re-skinned version of one of Capcom’s greatest titles, and it doesn’t feel ashamed to show it. Other games that are akin to the MH formula have always tried to differentiate themselves enough to warrant a purchase from the consumer, and Soul Sacrifice comes to mind. It manages to overlay an interesting narrative on top of everything that MH had, including a different combat style that features deep, impactful choices. The combat in Toukiden holds no real weight, making your swings feel pathetic the whole time, regardless of what you’re slashing.
That’s not to say this is an appalling game though. Whilst it doesn’t hold a candle to the source material and it’s main inspiration, it is still fairly enjoyable to smash through the standard array of enemies, which grow in size throughout your progress through the missions. Admittedly, the “Kill X (insert creature name here)” missions did get repetitive a lot quicker than MH, but this may be due to the lack in difficulty as previously mentioned, even with the larger beasts. Multiplayer itself increases the enjoyability of the game somewhat, but the issues are still ingrained in the gameplay mechanics deep enough to prevent truly memorable fights.
The personality of the game itself also gives off a serious one which seemed to fail quite spectacularly. MH has a usually comedic and laid back attitude when in the village, which is in direct contrast when out on the battlefield. Soul Sacrifice has a deep, heavy feeling throughout the entirety of the game, and this is maintained in the narrative and environment. Toukiden, however, features a western vibe that does nothing to enforce the story it is trying to push; It’s just yet another bland backdrop. And, fundamentally, that is the problem with this game. Everything implemented doesn’t hold the ground that Omega Force hoped it would, and doing so has cheapened the experience. With a bit of luck, any future iterations of the Toukiden franchise will alleviate these problems and give the series the characteristic and praise it deserves.