Toukiden: Kiwami Review‏

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Is it a sequel? Is it an expansion pack? Like Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen and Soul Sacrifice Delta before it, Toukiden: Kiwami is a bit of both. Like those aforementioned games, Omega Force’s latest take on the Monster Hunter template includes the entirety of its predecessor, Toukiden: The Age of Demons (complete with a number of much needed refinements), along with a sizeable selection of  post credit missions and plenty of additional content.

If you’re new to the series, Toukiden: Kiwami delivers an almost bewildering amount of content. The first game was a little rough around the edges, but with the additional content and subtle but effective amendments to the core experience, Toukiden now feels and plays like a genuine contender to the Capcom crown, and while newcomers will have to start from the very beginning, it’s encouraging to know that commitment will bring even greater rewards in the form of the new (and very good) missions available post-credits.

Whether that additional content is reason enough for pre-existing fans of the series to dip back into their pockets is arguable, but with the ability to start the whole game anew with your pre-existing character and equipment or to simply jump straight into the new stuff, I’d suggest that there is enough new content here to make Kiwami a worthy purchase for long standing fans of the series and newcomers alike.

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At its heart, Kiwami, like its predecessor, is a pretty brazen Monster Hunter clone. It’s a very good one, but make no mistake, other than the cool, pseudo-historical Japanese aesthetic, this is naturally rather derivative stuff and, despite being a very good game in its own right, can’t quite match its inspiration’s production values or consistent sense of place. Taken on its own merits however, there is a strong case forToukiden: Kiwami to be the best monster hunting game that isn’t called Monster Hunter. Yes, if you want to split hairs, the Oni found here are demons rather than monsters, but come on; tomato, tomato (ok, that doesn’t work in print).

With 3 new weapon types added to the already existing collection of 6 from the last game, Kiwami offers a huge number of play styles with each weapon essential delivering a class unto itself, and with the additional Mitima (different skill types and buffs etc) offering further variety, the level of potential depth is almost mindboggling. Whether you want to charge in head first, shoot from afar or buff your teams’ abilities in battle, there are more than enough options to allow you to approach the game in any way you see fit.

Either way, whether it be in single player or multiplayer, you’re going to want to plan your attacks carefully and preferably have your friends at your side. Sure, there are some smaller demons that can be dispatched with relative ease, but many of the enemies you will come up against during Kiwami’s extensive campaign are behemoths that will often take a combined and sustained effort to bring down – honestly, it’s not an exaggeration when I say that many battles will take north of 30 minutes to complete.

The good news is, while the battles are often lengthy affairs, the AI companions are all pretty useful and do a good job of assisting your attacks and even combining to purify amputated enemy limbs (if they are not purified, the buggers have a terrible habit of growing back). Of course, playing with friends across the multitude of multiplayer missions is when the game is at its best, but while it can’t quite measure up to Capcom’s monster slaying behemoth online, it’s arguably the better game when played solo. I’ve tried to love Monster Hunter, but I don’t play online all that often and invariably found it a bit of a slog on my lonesome. With Kiwami though, going solo doesn’t feel quite so detrimental thanks to the solid AI companions at your side.

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Be warned though, as good as the AI might be, the game does throw up a handful of solo missions that are a complete pain in the backside. Battles against larger demons go on for far too long when you are on your own, and without the tactical depth offered by multi-character combat, often feel like an almighty slog as you chip away at an enemies’ health in painfully incremental fashion.

Still, whether it be on your own or with your party, Kiwami does go to lengths to reduce the need for repetitive grinding. Yes, you’re going to need to do a fair bit if you want the best armour and weaponry around, but with the ability to send teammates off on missions to collect specific materials, life is made somewhat easier without the need to do it all yourself. It’s still a difficult game of course with success often down to well-planned attacks and the careful learning of enemy attack patterns, but with grinding somewhat streamlined and combat slick and accessible, Kiwami delivers a surprisingly welcoming introduction to the notoriously hardcore world of monster, uhhhhh, I mean demon hunting.

With a story and cast of characters that seem to get better as the game progresses (especially when it comes to the additional content), a great feudal Japan inspired aesthetic, largely fantastic combat and a solid selection of both single and multiplayer options, Omega Force’s, Toukiden: Kiwami arguably delivers the best Monster Hunter clone on the market and a very solid alternative for Sony fans still burned by Capcom’s move to the 3DS. It’s not without its faults, but on a handheld struggling for exclusive content, Toukiden: Kiwami offers a strong reminder of what can be achieved on Sony’s technically fantastic handheld. Sure, it’s decent on PS4, but make no mistake, this is a Vita game at heart, and a great one at that.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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