Well Vita players, if the likes of Ragnarok Odyssey and Soul Sacrifice don’t quite scratch your Monster Hunter itch, Toukiden is another game to try. This is yet another title borrowing the tried and true Monster Hunter mechanics, this time applying them in a feudal Japan setting. You and your monster slaying comrades must defend your village from certain destruction at the hands of vicious monsters. Gameplay follows the familiar combo format you might be used to from a game like Dynasty Warriors, not surprising since this is from the same publisher. Combat lacks the depth of Soul Sacrifice, but is much more fun than Ragnarok Odyssey. One especially nice feature is the fact that you can bring along A.I. companions to fill out your party, which means you are never fighting alone even if you never choose to play online.
The art style comes out very nicely and the environments have a bit more in the way of design compared to other similar games. Monsters range from unintimidating to, well, monstrous. Bossed in particular look great and require a much different approach. Rather than hacking and slashing until it drops, you can use a special vision technique that reveals their weakness. This gives you a clear target, though these creatures will still take a considerable amount of time to kill, even with A.I. companions. Unfortunately, those companions rarely target the correct spot and generally act a fodder while you deal the important damage.
The story of Toukiden is unremarkable and follows your journey to becoming a legendary warrior where others before you failed. Those fallen warriors can be acquired from defeating powerful monsters and are used for increased combat effectiveness. They also offer temporary boosts which are useful against tougher bosses and other monsters. Mission objectives range from gathering items to slaying a specific monster or monsters.
Between missions, much like Monster Hunter, you live in the village you are protecting. You can use materials found while on missions to craft and upgrade gear, or use money to simply purchase new gear. You can level up your spirit companions and can also mingle with the village people. Eventually you will acquire a cat companion who can travel to zones while you are on missions and find useful items, saving you from always having to grind to find them. The village is also where you can view your progress, check your character history, and save your game.
Toukiden is a game for fans of Monster Hunter. They way it plays and presents itself is almost identical to Capcom’s series. If you already enjoy Monster Hunter, this game is more of that. If you have struggled in the past to enjoy that series, or one of its many similar rivals, this isn’t the game that will change your mind. It is perfectly competent and good at what it does, but it ultimately remains unremarkable and difficult to recommend outside of its specifically targeted audience.