As a massive hack n’ slash fan and longtime Omega Force devotee, I’ve always appreciated the developer's commitment to their niche audience. Toukiden is another franchise geared towards a smaller fanbase, but unlike the series it takes most inspiration from, namely Monster Hunter, it’s unquestionably more inviting and accessible to newcomers. Personally, I could never get into Capcom’s Monster-slaying phenomenon. The lack of narrative, clunky gameplay and derivative mission structure never appealed to me, and it’s the same reason I struggled to enjoy the original Toukiden Kiwami—it was simply too similar to its source material.
Thankfully, Toukiden 2 fixes most major complaints I had with the predecessor, and it’s a much more cohesive and enjoyable experience as a result. Toukiden 2 is a genuine attempt at expanding the basic Monster Hunter premise into an adventure that expresses greater narrative depth and a richer lore. This is still Omega Force we’re talking about, so don’t expect deep writing or complex characters, but it’s still nice to see further effort went into other aspects of the game beside just gameplay.
"Thankfully, Toukiden 2 fixes most major complaints I had with the predecessor, and it’s a much more cohesive and enjoyable experience as a result. Toukiden 2 is a genuine attempt at expanding the basic Monster Hunter premise into an adventure that expresses greater narrative depth and a richer lore."
Omega Force has tackled Toukiden 2 with a more cinematic approach, breathing new life into Toukiden’s mythological world of ancient Japan. The game begins with an action-packed cutscene that sets the tone and provides a decent enough plot foundation to get players excited for the inevitable monster slaying. Character creation remains very basic, but there’s enough options to give your protagonist some personality and charm. You’re then treated to a brief tutorial where the game teaches you fundamental gameplay basics.
After the exciting intro, the game hits its first major snag that may prevent most gamers from giving Toukiden 2 a proper chance. During the opening hours, Toukiden 2 is an absolute grind. You’ll find yourself spamming the “skip-dialogue” button as you suffer through endless chatter that serves absolutely no purpose but to waste time. Even important gameplay information is difficult to absorb as it’s buried within lines of awfully written dialogue. It’s very typical of most poorly written JRPGs, but it’s especially distracting here because it diverts attention from an otherwise solid gaming experience. Fortunately, the pacing picks back up once most of the story is introduced and the game lets loose. The narrative never reaches its full potential, but at least it serves as a competent tool that helps provide missions with meaning and value.
"During the opening hours, Toukiden 2 is an absolute grind. You’ll find yourself spamming the 'skip-dialogue' button as you suffer through endless chatter that serves absolutely no purpose but to waste time."
Another refreshing addition to the sequel is the open world. You’re free to wander wherever you please, and you can tackle most missions and side activities in any order. Toukiden 2 is visually more polished than its predecessor, but it still doesn’t compare well with most modern games. Toukiden 2 looks like a title from the Playstation 2 era, and the PC port makes the lack of graphical fidelity particularly jarring. You can’t set the resolution any higher than 1080p, so I was stuck playing on a stretched 1440p display. Frankly, this is unacceptable for a 2017 release.
Monster designs, on the other hand, are spectacular. Toukiden’s creatures have always been the game’s highlight, and Toukiden 2 is no different. Their majestic appearance makes them feel both intimidating and visually exciting. Once I faced my first building-sized monster, I finally understood the appeal of Monster Hunter-style games. There’s an incomparable sense of accomplishment when you take down a creature that’s dozens of times larger than your avatar. Thanks to some neat gameplay tweaks, slaying these glorious creatures is now even more exciting. You’re equipped with something called the Demon Hand. This action works like a hook or anchor that can flip enemies, and even tear their limbs off. The Demon Hand is also used to climb walls and trees, and reach distant land masses when accessible.
"However, if you’re a fan of these types of games, Toukiden 2 is a no brainer. It’s a well-realized sequel that has plenty of potential for greatness."
The mitama systems is back, and it allows you to assign modifiers and special moves to your weapons. Some can be used to enhance attack speed or boost defense, while other can be used to summon monsters that fight alongside your avatar. Certain mitama even offer healing properties and other magic effects that can be used to flip a fight in your favor. Implementing proper mitama is especially important later in the game where any extra aid is needed to take down the truly challenging beasts.
You can also team up with other NPCs when wandering out on missions, or you can team up with online players for a more dynamic experience. Sadly, playing online removes the open-world element, so I found little reason to seek out other human players. Personally, I find the accompanying NPCs too much of a distraction. They’re oftentimes too effective for their own good, meaning they’ll steal your kills before you can even land a proper strike. The NPCs are definitely helpful when you’re faced with tougher bosses, but unfortunately, they're in the way more often than not.
Conclusion: Toukiden 2 is a notable improvement over previous entries, and probably the most accessible Monster Hunter-style game for players who normally steer clear of the genre. The emphasis on storytelling is welcome, even if the plot is childishly written and brings the introductory hours to a painful halt. However, if you’re a fan of these types of games, Toukiden 2 is a no brainer. It’s a well-realized sequel that has plenty of potential for greatness. With tighter writing and some more visual polish, Toukiden could become something truly extraordinary, and considering how much Omega Force improved since the last release, there’s plenty of hope for betterment.