The demo for Toukiden: The Age of Demons was released Wednesday for download via the PlayStation store. It takes about 1.5 hours to download on the PS Vita, but it is damn well worth the wait.
Players who sit around and play Capcom’s Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite, years after its release, just to scratch that handheld multiplayer itch, have no fear! On Feb. 11, Toukiden will “come in like a wrecking ball” and smash its across the Western part of the gaming globe to create a new frontier for those willful gamers out there.
After character creation, players are tasked with taking on a monster. These mobs are dubbed “oni” and are essentially demon souls that can bend space and time. Slowly they are turning the world, which was once lush with flora and fauna, into the Otherworld–a place of dark and demented souls ravaged and ready to seek revenge.
No one knows where they came from or why, after the Awakening, we now have to fight them off nonetheless, if we want to keep the chiming of humanity’s death knell at bay.
Upon arriving in the village of Utakata, players are introduced to Yamato and Oka and in the first few scenes, then they are told to venture off and seek Tatara (craftsman) and Shikimi (resident mystic.)
During the cut-scenes, the characters speak in Japanese (which is always fun to hear, especially when they get upset) providing us with English subtitles, but when asking for their assistance with charms or armor upgrades, the characters made these funny little sounds. Those familiar with the villagers in Age of Mythology will know what I’m talking about. It’s almost like creators of these games like to give us some auditory recognition for the characters we soon become attached to visually.
Expression-wise, their up-close avatars minutely change depending on the topic of discussion. As seen in the Disgaea franchise, they wear their emotions on their sleeve.
Toukiden can almost be viewed as an action-packed movie from an outsider’s perspective, though I’m almost tempted to skip cut-scenes now and again to get back to the battle.
If it weren’t for the intro, though, I can’t say that newcomers to this particular breadth in gameplay would know how to control their character. They could make him/her dodge or parry or roll away from monsters, while powering up for the next combo attack.
Players can train with Yamato to learn all the controls, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
Upon arriving in Utakata, the new recruit is given a full loadout of weapons to choose from. The point is to play with all of them until you get the hang of it.
There’s the standard two-handed sword, dual-wielding knives, long spear, a Great Chain & Sickle, Merciless Gauntlets and a longbow at the player’s disposal.
I chose the long spear, imagining it would transform into a gun from Godseater Burst, ultimately settling for the Merciless Gauntlets. Frankly, looks like my character (named “koi no yukon” for reasons unmentionable) is wearing a jetpack when she runs around town.
These are known as Oni throughout the game and they are not particularly menacing in the beginning of the game, to any degree. Players fight against tiny little monkey minions who jump in front or roll away from the recruit, giving a little bit of chase to the overall battle.
Players can kite a bunch of these little guys or just combo the crap out of them all at once. It’s really up to the individual’s playing style and how they go about mocking these grunts or going for the all-out slaughter semi-tactical approach.
When the time draws nearer to the release date, we’ll just have to wait and see how long it takes to encounter a real big boss battle unfold before our eyes. Then players will really begin dampening the seat of their easy chairs, if the opening trailer for the game makes good on the promise of some seriously scary monster encounters.
The combos are sick, particularly in demo-mode when players tap the circle button repeatedly, unleashing an ever-increasing flurry of gargantuan fist punching proportions as you repeatedly tap the button. It’s satisfying to feel the character land blows faster and faster as you bring those Mario Party skills to play, mashing on the buttons as you take down the enemy at hand.
Combing the “X” and circle buttons shields your from incoming hits, allowing the player to counter-attack, too.
When all the mobs are gone, and you can make your rounds throughout the map before the “Mission Accomplished” logo is splayed across the screen, take the time to pick up items shining in the distance.
During the first battle, players encounter a Mitama (legendary hero from tales of yore) who binds to a chosen weapon or piece of armor to help enhance combos and dwell alongside your own soul, intimating an additional side story that may unfold later in the game.
Run by holding down the right bumper and directing the character around the field, as you would in Monster Hunter.
Pressing “X” allows you pick up items and interact with other characters and other elements of the inter-actable environment.
The left bumper occasionally allows the player to bring the camera to focus on the scene in front of the character. As you roll, dodge or run around in-game, players will tap the bumper from time to time to center on the AI or mob in question.
Aside from that, just open up the menu with the triangle button and explore on from there!
Utilizing items found during battles, take them to Tatara and he’ll upgrade your weapons or armor as you see fit.
In Toukiden, players can wave or laugh or emote to the heart’s desire, which is especially silly when interacting with other players in real time, through the online realm of the game. This is reminiscent of MMOs like Final Fantasy XI or World of Warcraft, where players may venture into the over-crowded marketplace of choice and irritate the shit out of their peers.
The demo allows players to take on missions with up to three additional players. This is key to taking out bosses or wiping clean the slate of the forest or tundra environments of innumerable baddies that are located in different zones on the map.
One disheartening feature experienced near the end of the mission yields a freeze on the screen as players disband or leave the party, adding a bit of lag to overall gameplay. I actually had to restart the Vita after realizing I couldn’t boot out of the game and go back to the home screen when the level froze.
The two-tailed fox-like creatures will make me food from the products I provide on my travels. In Monster Hunter the player could take a lovely stroll around his/her hometown, whiling away the hours, conferring with the flowers, catching butterflies and fishing in the nearby stream.
I would also like the shrine, which sits at the end of a short path adjacent to the walkway beside my house, to open up and grant me powers if I pray at the beginning of each new quest. There is already a sort of donation box where you can “pray reverentially” or “pray adequately” (whatever that means) and gain an attack/defense boost upon leaving some spare change.
In the beginning of the demo, Yamato (the guy with the eyepatch) mentioned to me that a woman no longer tends to the shrine. In the full game, maybe players can actually take on the role of restoring the place of worship, bringing some morality back to the Oni-killing spree-loving village.
My Vita thanks you, Tecmo Koei, for helping to dust off the cobwebs of these poor analog sticks and giving them a jolt like a blast from the past. Toukiden is, thus far, rendering all future games irrelevant until I fully customize all my gear according to which monsters I’ve taken down. I look forward to making memories with my fellow comrades and taking on the world you’ve thrust me into, me and my girl “koi.”
(Tecmo boasts players can port their characters over from the demo into the live game once it’s released in February. Yes, yes, yes, indeed…)
Published at HbnBm.com