Toukiden: The Age of Demons review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Tecmo KOEI
Developer: Omega Force
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

Monster Hunter. Monster Hunter Monster Hunter Monster Hunter.

I just thought I’d get that out of the way right off the bat rather than tap-dancing around it for a few paragraphs, because really, that’s the giant, elephantine beast in the room when it comes to Toukiden: The Age of Demons. It’s the obvious influence, the current occupant of the throne to which Toukiden aspires, the alpha and the omega of the monster-hunting genre — it’s pretty much impossible to look at Toukiden and not think of it in relation to Monster Hunter.

Toukiden 1

Which isn’t to say there aren’t at least a couple of differences. For one thing, Toukiden has a mythology all its own; it may not be overly complex (you’re protecting your village from a demon invasion), but it is there, and Omega Force deserve kudos for that — to say nothing of the way they’ve weaved in actual bits of character development and interpersonal relationships.

For another, from a technical standpoint, Toukiden stands well above the Monster Hunter games on both 3DS or PSP. It looks far, far nicer, while the advantages imbued by the presence of the Vita’s dual thumbsticks are apparent from the very first time you pan around your surroundings on the battlefield.

Beyond that, though? It’s pretty Monster Hunter-y. Plot notwithstanding, the core of the game is still kill monsters-upgrade gear-repeat. Toukiden may throw in some stuff about captured souls and Rituals of Purification and whatnot, but that’s all window-dressing. For the duration of your time with Toukiden, you’ll be running around battlefields — sorry, “Ages” — and hacking and slashing demons to death, and that’s pretty much all you’ll be doing. (Though, technically, I suppose that if you go with a different slayer, you could also be arrowing the demons to death, or range-killing them.)

Toukiden 2

That said, I don’t want to dissuade anyone from getting Toukiden. It’s obviously not the most original game the Vita has to offer, but it’s still done incredibly well — no small feat when you consider that even if the genre may be overdone, the two similar games that have come to the PS Vita in North America before it (Soul Sacrifice and Ragnarok Odyssey) both whiffed in their own unique ways. Add in the whole looks great/plays great factor, and even if you don’t have the recipe for a must-have game, you at least have the recipe for an enjoyably good one.

Grade: B+