As a development studio, Omega Force don't often get to branch away from the Warriors franchise, indeed the last time they were given this privilege in earnest came in the shape of a PS3 exclusive called Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll. In many ways, Toukiden: The Age of Demons can be seen as the next step for the studio as it sees them delve into a slightly new genre, while still retaining the classic Warriors gameplay charm.
It's not long into the game that you are thrust into a conflict involving rather gruesome Oni "“ demons from Japanese folklore. And as is often the case in this type of game, you take on the role of a nameless hero who has a rather mysterious past.
Quite a lot of the game will take place at Utakata Village and it's from here that you will be sent on missions to fight against this deadly foe that seems to be getting stronger all the time. That doesn't mean there isn't room for story though and as the game progresses through its chapters, you will learn personal struggles and how perilous everyone's position is at the village. Although the cast is on the small side, this works in the game's favour. It means the companion system, which utilises the game's questing system, doesn't seem too overbearing and having conversations with characters feels much more personal.
Missions in Toukiden are often woven into the overall story and will see you taking down hordes of smaller Oni, or squaring off against larger Oni. Each chapter has 10+ missions in, but despite the tie-in with the story, it does still seem rather padded out. In Chapter 2 alone, you will fight the same boss type numerous times, with the game often introducing only one or two new boss-types per chapter. It means that by the end of Chapter 3, you will have completed 37 missions, but only fought six different boss types.
In total, there are 12 bosses spread through 7 chapters. However, it is important to note that the game does offer up boss variants as you get later into the game. It means that in total, there are 24 bosses, which then doesn't quite seem as bad "“ even if they aren't as unique.
There are numerous weapon types and each behaves in a rather unique way, however, the game does still operate in a similar manner to the Warriors franchise. Even if the attacks differ in their execution, each weapon still has a quick/weak attack, a strong attack, a more "unique" attack and a special attack. This array of options does offer enough variation to keep things interesting and it means that using the sword, as opposed to using giant fists or a bow, will change your style of play almost entirely.
Defeating smaller Oni is quite straight-forward. The weaker variants, such as Imps, will often go down in a few hits, while Blitzers might take a little bit more punishment. Bosses on the other hand, offer a rather different challenge. Every boss has two health gauges, one for armour and one for its actual health. Many other games give you rewards for breaking off parts of a boss, but in Toukiden, it's actively promoted as a means to success. Not only will breaking off parts inhibit a boss' abilities, it will also help you deplete health much quicker.Approaching bosses in this manner is a positive step, as it also promotes teamwork. Certain weapons are better suited for attacking body parts in different regions and it means everyone has quite different roles. It was also interesting to see Omega Force implement a mechanic whereby, bosses are very strong initially, but weaken as fights progress. It makes the experience more natural, as it makes sense for something to take more damage the more injured it gets.
Throughout all of this, you will (most of the time) be joined by AI compatriots and they are surprisingly effective. Often AI does minimal damage and fails to do what you would want a human partner to do. However, in Toukiden they are pretty good dealing good damage to parts, healing you, reviving you and even absorbing broken off parts. It's very refreshing.
Toukiden further differentiates itself from the pack with its Mitama system. When defeating stronger foes, you will often receive Mitama as a reward. These are souls of fallen warriors who ended up being swallowed by Oni and as a reward for rescuing them, they will often their powers to you in the ongoing fight against the Oni.
There are numerous types of Mitama, ranging from Attack and Defence, to Spirit, Healing and Deceit. Each of these will grow as you do, offering upgrades in battle, but also altering the abilities you can use. This helps to make the experience a lot more personal, as while an attack-based Mitama might offer you a boost to your attack and stamina and some attack-based abilities such as Leech, a spirit-based Mitama might give you boosts to your Weapon Gauge and offensive magical spells as abilities. The other thing to note here, is that there are over 200 Mitama and you can customise their development.
Toukiden isn't going to push any boundaries for its graphics, but the cutscenes do at least look pretty good. Music does deserve praise however, as it offers enough charm to keep things sincere when needed, but also enough gusto when it all starts getting a bit more serious. It means that presentation for the game is pretty strong, but there are much better offerings out there for the PS Vita.
In terms of replay value, Toukiden will keep you occupied for quite some time. Getting through the main story campaign is enough of a challenge time-wise, but the game also offers a multiplayer component which has even more missions.
Toukiden is another successful escapade for Omega Force and it suggests they should be given licence to do this kind of thing more often. Despite some concerns about mission padding and presentation, Toukiden is still able to offer a fresh take on the hunting genre of games through its interesting take on boss fights and the introduction of Mitama.
|The Mitama system.|
|AI actually provides a positive benefit.|
|The connection between the story and the missions.|
|There is a lot of mission padding.|
|Presentation isn't the best.|
|It would have been nice to see a few more boss types.|