Fill the Monster Hunter gap on your Vita.
It could probably be claimed that one of the major problems with the Sony Vita is the lack of Monster Hunter. The game series worked wonders for the PSP, but sadly the PSP successor is now lacking in that department, unless you consider the compatible PSP titles available in the PSN store. However, this lack of Monster Hunter has not gone unnoticed by other developers, and more than one Monster Hunter clone has since seen the light of day.
While many of these clones don’t measure up to the Monster Hunter titles, Toukiden: The Age of Demons, the latest offering from Omega Force (developers of the Dynasty Warriors games), as published by Tecmo Koei, seems to have streamlined the Monster Hunter formula, added a few ideas of their own, and come up with the Monster Hunter clone of choice for the Vita. Hurrah! Let the hunting begin!
The biggest change that veteran Monster Hunters will notice in Toukiden: The Age Of Demons is that they are not hunting monsters, but demons (Oni). What’s more, Omega Force have even managed to thread in a story of sorts, something which may shock some players. With firm nods towards Japanese mythology, Toukiden is set within a world where a war wages between the demons and those charged with protecting Humanity, the Slayers.
Don’t get over excited role-players, the story in Toukiden is perhaps nothing to really get excited about. The game is, after all, about hunting demons and improving your slayer to hunt yet more demons. And the characters that do play a part in the story are very stereo-typical. But still, any story is better than no story surely? And the story is not the end of the changes that Omega Force have made to the formula.
There are many ways in which Toukiden mirrors its inspiration, such as linking numbered areas together and harvesting resources from the defeated demons to improve equipment and such. But there are also plenty of improvements that have been made, not least of which is by removing some of the more laborious actions required in Monster Hunter.
Perhaps the most important change is the inclusion of AI companions to go hunting with. Not only does this mean that the player need not wait to find real-world companions, but these AI companions are actually fairly competent, which is a nice surprise. The combat feels smoother as well, with perhaps more than a nod towards the Dynasty Warriors series. A lock on to the demon, followed by swift and noticeably impressive moves will leave the player feeling both powerful and competent.
The missions themselves are fairly familiar, charging the player with taking down demons, either in groups or perhaps one massive boss demon. These boss battles can be quite lengthy, but really do face the player off against massive enemies that prove quite the challenge, providing those that overcome these bosses with ample bragging rights.
Take down the demon, harvest (or purify) the corpse to gather loot and then upgrade to face yet more demons – the formula is fairly simple even with the included story. Six different categories of weapons will give players the chance to adjust their customised characters towards their own playstyles, and groups of slayers will often benefit from having a variety of different weapon users around.
Slayers can further be customised with the addition of Mitamas – spirits which can be taken from corpses and added to weapons. These can be activated by pressing the right should button along with the assigned face button, and have different effects such as adding poison to ranged weapons or giving bursts of speed.
For all of its streamlining, story and new ideas, Toukiden still suffers from a repetitive mission structure that will simply not appeal to many players, especially those who were not taken with the charms of Monster Hunter. It is a bit of a grind and the demon variety is perhaps not what it could be, but this is something that the original Monster Hunter games suffered with and still managed to be hugely popular.
Toukiden: The Age of Demons is more than just a Monster Hunter clone. In many ways it manages to surpass the older title, yet still suffers from some of the same problems. Still, whether you think it is better or not, Toukiden is the best game of this genre available on the Vita, and so is an essential purchase if that is what you are looking for.