Toukiden Kiwami Review

All bow before the mighty Samurai Jim! (Image captured on my PS Vita, game belongs to Sony and their Playstation brand)
All bow before the mighty Samurai Jim!
(Image captured on my PS Vita, game belongs to Sony and Koei Tecmo)

When it comes to a game that’s based off a specific culture, it can be sometimes to difficult to get fully invested in the scenario. I find that engaging in a different culture in video-games can be immensely rewarding though, because it can teach you many things that you did not know about said culture. It can teach you about the delicacies of a nation, the nature of certain things, and give interesting factoids on what makes a country tick. One such game is Toukiden Kiwami, a game heavily steeped in Japanese lore and culture. It’s an RPG where you play as a fully customizable samurai warrior and must protect your village from evil demons that are out to destroy all you hold dear. Welcome to the world of Toukiden, a land set in ancient Japan where you must protect the world using only your skills and prowess.

Plot And Setting

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Whoops! I shoudl have tried to dodge that! (Image captured on my PS Vita, the game is copyright of Sony and Koei Tecmo)

Set in ancient Japan, you play as a Slayer and must defend Ukakata village from Japanese demons known as Oni. These demons take many forms from foxes to wolves to birds and it’s your job to slay these beasties. The story takes place in Utakata village and has you do battle against demons as you work towards defeating the extremely powerful demon leading all of them. The game also features a second story-arc in which you have to deal with a new threat as well as acquire some new allies along the way.

The story is probably the weakest part of the game. The first story-arc was so forgettable that I could barely remember what happened. The second story-arc was actually pretty good and had a lot more memorable scenes. It just kind of sucks that you have to slog through the boring stuff to get to it. Still, I did enjoy the setting of the game despite the slow first-half. The ancient Japan setting lends to a lot of unique ideas and items that the normal American game-player may not know about.

Gameplay

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This looks like a bad situation! (Image captured on my PS Vita, game is the property of Sony and Koei Tecmo)

If you’ve played any Monster Hunter game or any styled it, than you already have an idea of how Toukiden plays. The game is third-person action RPG in which you must slay demons in order to get stronger. You can slice off the limbs of demons you fight and use them to attain new items and materials which be used to make armor and weapons. You can upgrade your gear by just simply wearing / using it in the field. For example, if you get hit enough times when in combat than you can upgrade your armor. It’s a fun and unique system that rewards you for using your armor and weapons to its fullest potential.

On top of this, there are also two things in town that will give you free items: Your pet Tenko and a mystical wise tree. The Tenko is a tiny little white fox who you can send out into the field to gather items. There’s also the mystical  tree who will bestow items upon you if give it a small offering of cash. There’s also the “Pool Of Purity”, a special hot-spring you can bring your allies to for some rest & relaxation between missions. Sometimes using the Pool Of Purity can lead to a little bit of steamy shenanigans. Too bad that it fades to black before you can see anything actually steamy, but then again I don’t play these type of games for the possible nudity. I play it for the gameplay and action, which Kiwami delivers in full-force.

The combat is fun and easy to use, with each individual weapon-type playing different than the last. Using a chain & sickle to grapple onto enemies and deliver insane air-combos, or using a pair of twin swords to attack the enemy with fast and furious strikes is just two of the many ways your weapons allow you to deal with the enemy. On top of this, you are also gifted with spirits known as Mitama. These Mitama are actually the souls of dead warriors who will allow you to use special abilities once acquired. Each Mitama is grouped into different attribute categories such as defense or attack. Certain Mitama work best with certain weapon types and you mix and match them to find some awesome combos. I often use a defensive Mitama with my chain & sickle, because it allows me to produce a force-field so I can shield myself when I go in for an aerial combo.

Along with your Mitama and weapons, you also have several party members that offer their own unique skills and weapons to aid you. Find a proper combo of party members and gear allows you to effectively bolster a strong team. The original Toukiden game had extremely bad party member AI, but it was greatly improved for this game and it makes the party members more of a necessity. Combat is fast frenetic despite getting somewhat repetitive at times. One of the few major gameplay flaws is that the areas in the game are quite barren and featureless. Compare this to Monster Hunter, where a lot of the areas will feature wildlife or items to scavenge from herbs or mushrooms. In Toukiden, the areas are filled with some generic demons and a few glowing blue items here and there. There is very little reason to explore these areas, which makes it quite disappointing since there are a fair amount of areas that have multiple segments like this.

Visual Stimuli And Sound

It's behind me, isn't it? (Image captured on my PS Vita, the game is copyright to Sony and Koei Tecmo)
It’s behind me, isn’t it?
(Image captured on my PS Vita, the game is copyright to Sony and Koei Tecmo)

The game looks pretty awesome, with some nice character models here and there. The faces of the characters look a little plane, but I do like the graphics a lot. The game has some nice music that is styled after the kind of songs prevalent in the feudal era of Japan. Despite this, very little of the game’s music made an impact on me. The voice acting is immensely solid and entertaining to listen to, being done primarily by well-trained Japanese voice actors.  The cutscenes are gorgeous and well-done and look like something out of a flashy CGI anime movie.

In Short

This game looks amazing and has some fast and furious gameplay. The areas you fight in may be bland, but the fun combat easily makes up for it. The game’s soundtrack may be a bit forgettable, but the solid graphics and voice-acting make up for it. And even though the first story arc was immensely forgettable, the second story-arc added by this update adds a lot of intensity to the story and give me a fun narrative I won’t soon forget. I enjoyed it greatly and I would definitely play through this game again. My final rating for this game is 7 / 10, somewhat unpolished in a few areas but nevertheless fun. If you want a good Monster Hunter clone, definitely go out and give this game a try!

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