I’ve got to admire the boldness of the developers of Toukiden; whilst not entirely the same as Monster Hunter, there’s definitely some similarities, and Toukiden 2 released in the west within a week of Monster Hunter XX in Japan, so it allowed me to scratch at the itch for a game that was outside of my reach. I actually really enjoyed the original game (and the expansion rerelease), so I was excited to dive back in.

Toukiden 2 has definitely cast away the shackles of the name Monster Hunter clone though. In the first game, areas were split into 9 zones and there was no exploring outside of the mission structure. Now, there’s a full open world (in single player), and the zones are gone. Instead you’re locked into much larger zones, or sometimes arenas to fight the Oni you’re up against. It’s a fantastic change, and it refreshes the game play and gives it a bit more of a sense of world; an identity of its own.

The other major change I think is absolutely amazing is the introduction of the Demon Hand. This item, and I mean absolutely no hyperbole here, changes the way combat occurs. It’s a huge increase to manoeuvrability as you can use the R2 button (touchpad on Vita) to grab onto the Oni, dragging yourself through the air toward them. If you’re thrown away, you can rush back into the fray. Also, when an Oni performs its “rage” moves, you can use the Demon Hand to perform an Oni Burial and throw the Oni to the ground, disabling it for some time so you can wail on it. Hell, the most bad-arse part is that when your Unity Gauge is full, certain parts of Oni can be destroyed completely, leaving them unable to fly, or only able to limp around. It’s awesome.

A lot of the other concepts feel like huge quality of life changes. The open world means that there’s different sources of Oni rather than just missions, and the introduction of Joint Operations, small pop-up missions that when completed give you free use of one of the facilities back at base, saving you a tonne of haku. Many of the menus have changed too, as they were pretty sloppy back in the original. The base actually has a bit of life too, and you can wander around. No Guardian Tree this time though, which I miss a bit

Story is another separating factor. It’s no literary genius, but there’s some. It tells the story of someone displaced in time, loses their memory and decides to use their skill in battle to help defeat the Oni. The city’s in pretty bad shape though, as tensions have run high between the Guards and the Samurai, or Insiders and Outsiders, named because they live in or outside the protective shield around the city.

Ruins mode has been brought across from the Japanese version, which was added in a patch after launch. The Ruins are a set of floors set in specific ages, acting sort of like a gauntlet of one large or medium Oni back to back, with limited access to the prayer stone. You’ll either set yourself up for a ten floor run, or an ‘unlimited’ run where you can stop every five floors. It’s a fun distraction, as you don’t know what you’re going up against, and there are exclusive Oni in there (the Nightblade and Sableblade), but it’s mostly a distraction, albeit a nice one.

I’m on the fence about the new Oni too. Drakwing, sure, a giant dragon. Bladetail, a giant lion thing with a sword tail, cool. Cruspisces, the catfish that constantly goes underground and has a million breakable parts can go suck eggs, and Quadbracchium, the giant four armed Machamp that spins on its arms and means no melee users can get close, I truly hope this one meets a horrible, horrible death. It’s incredibly frustrating to fight. The new weapons though; the Chain Whip and the Sword and Shield are both pretty decent. The sword and board requires a bit of stance dancing, and the chain whip mostly resolves around through kunai into the enemy them using them as grapple points, or ripping them out and making chain explosions. It’s pretty fun, but I stuck with the Kusarigami, or Chain and Sickle.

The Vita Version:

 

I played a decent amount of this on the Vita too. It’s completely playable. Obviously it doesn’t look as good, the load times are longer, and it definitely doesn’t load as many Oni on the screen at once, which can be a bit of a pain during Joint Ops, but it’s serviceable. One thing I didn’t quite like was the use of the touch screen for the Demon hand. I get why they did it, but I’m kinda a fattie, so when my squishy pointers try and aim at the correct part of an Oni, I will often have to spend more time aiming than on PS4 to make sure I hit the spot I want to hit. It happens. Apart from these small complaints, I put around fifty hours into the Vita version and I don’t regret it. Cross buy would have been really nice, but hey, that’s their choice.

Toukiden 2 is a huge step up over the original. The increases to speed of combat, the changes to the menus and the open world themselves make this an amazing upgrade. Add in the new weapons, loads of missions in both single and multiplayer, and the ruins mode and you’ve got a sure fire winner. The only things I would change is to fix some of the glitches, such as Oni being locked to the ground or people not appearing until you quit/reload the game, or for the love of god increase the drop rates on items from the Ruins-specific mobs, and this is a real contender for best ‘monster hunting’ game on portables. It certainly already is on consoles.

 

A copy of this game was provided as a digital code from the publisher for review purposes. The entire game (yes really) was completed prior to review, including around 150 hours played in multiplayer. Bring on Kiwami.