Disclaimer: This review was conducted on PS4. A code was supplied by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Roughly two years after the release of Toukiden: Kiwami on PS4, we are now finally getting a sequel. Toukiden 2, published by Koei Tecmo, is an action RPG filled with surprises and pleasantries I wouldn’t have previously expected from the developer, Omega Force.
The Toukiden series isn’t your typical Omega Force musou game. It has much more in common with games like Monster Hunter and Freedom Wars than Dynasty Warriors but it’s definitely no secret that it comes from the same developer as it carries the same quirks and oddities that their rushed jobs usually do. Along with them though comes a deeply interesting narrative and fun hack-n-slash combat filled with quirky, unique characters who feel as involved in the story as you.
Gameplay is pretty simple in Toukiden 2. There are a host of weapons and armor, from chain and sickle to sword and shield which you use to increase your damage output and defensive capabilities respectively. Along with these weapons you can equip 3 mitama, which are the souls of warriors that give you unique bonuses and skills.
The first mitama you equip comes with 4 skills that are tied to R1 + one of the face buttons. Usually these are summons, buffs or restorative spells and are extremely helpful when fighting all types of Oni. The second mitama that you equip gives you a defensive skill like a few seconds of immortality or a shield that eats some damage. And the last mitama that you equip gives you a more substantial buff that you can use by pressing R1 + R2.
New to Toukiden 2 there is the addition of demon hands, which is essentially equivalent to the grappling hook from Freedom Wars. By holding R2 you can select an Oni or a part of the Oni to grab onto and lunge yourself at allowing for movement to be much more fluid during combat.
Oni come in a 3 different sizes. There are small imp sized ones that take the usual few hits before they die. There are large ones that have a thick protective layer on them hiding their soul which you can only penetrate by severing limbs. And then there are giant ones which use the same “cut off a body part to do damage” mechanic but feature a significant health increase and usually have a few phases to them.
The most interesting thing about Toukiden 2, though, is the way that story missions are structured. Instead of selecting missions and then being teleported in front of a big boss and back to base once you’ve finished, Toukiden features an expansive open world that you need to run through (or warp through using their fast travel system) in order complete the tasks that are layed out for you. Unlike open worlds found in other games Toukiden is different in that the character resides outside of it, in a hub town, and only interacts with the open world when attempting a mission.
All this expansion did come at a cost, however. Toukiden 2 doesn’t look great. It’s graphical fidelity is similar to something like Onigiri on the PS4 and while I generally don’t take offense to a game being ugly, it was certainly shocking to go from the beauty of Horizon: Zero Dawn to Nier: Automata and end up here. More than anything, Toukiden 2 reminds me that we’ve been spoiled by gorgeous AAA games. Yet, even though Toukiden 2 doesn’t have the greatest visuals it still suffers from frame rate drops during big boss fights and while it isn’t even close to unplayable, it is a bit of an annoyance when neither visuals or performance are up to standard.
Technical errors only get more annoying when some characters decide not to show up during in-game cutscenes or gameplay. And there are a few cases in Toukiden 2 when you encounter dialogue that hasn’t been translated at all. This is all par for the course in Omega Force games though as usually they have short development cycles, though that isn’t much of an excuse when the quality of the game suffers.
The story is where Toukiden 2 really shines. While the premise is fairly convoluted and it takes a few hours to get going, the characters really feel special. Each one has a unique and interesting perspective that helps make the narrative feel very deep. Once the story hooks you, you’ll definitely enjoy the ride.
Overall, Toukiden 2 is a great game. It has a few technical flaws, missing translations and lackluster visuals. But the charm of the characters, deeply interesting story and fun combat make up for it’s flaws ten-fold. I’d recommend this game for anyone who enjoys Monster Hunter-style action RPGs.