Capcom's Monster Hunter is a popular series of co-op action-RPGs focused on slaying giant monsters. Unfortunately, those games exclusive to Nintendo devices nowadays. Enter Koei Tecmo with Toukiden 2, a Monster Hunter-style game focused on a war between humans and mythological creatures. Although sadly unavailable on Xbox, Toukiden 2 is still a compelling Steam offering.
Koei Tecmo's Toukiden (pronounced Toe-Key-Den) and the enhanced version Toukiden: Kiwami (also available on Steam) are basic Monster Hunter clones in which up to four players gather in a hub world, select a mission, and then head off to an instanced area to complete it. Sometimes these missions just involve slaying a specific number of minor enemies, but quite often the targets are screen-filling monsters called Oni.
Upon completing all of the missions in a set, a new set of more challenging missions will unlock, and so on. Story sequences take place after completing certain key missions. Toukiden featured more narrative than Monster Hunter, but otherwise it hewed closely to formula established in that series.
The war rages on
Toukiden 2 takes place two years after Kiwami. During the playable prologue, your created character numbers among the forces of Oni Slayers defending a port town against a massive Oni attack. Slayers had lived in isolation until then, secretly defending humanity against their demonic foes. That changes with this key battle (later known as Awakening Day), as the Oni threat becomes so great that the Slayers can no longer hide – only fight.
The battle goes poorly, however. On Awakening Day, not only is the town lost but most of humanity as well. Scattered remnants gather in fortified Slayer cities. There, mystical shrine maidens create barriers that keep the Oni from entering. The cities are defended not only by Slayers but also refugee Samurai. Within Toukiden 2's main town of Mahoroba Village, great tensions exist between the indigenous Insiders (Guards) and the Outsider refugees (Samurai).
Meanwhile, your character awakens within this town to find that ten years have somehow passed since the great battle. An eccentric genius called the Professor found you unconscious during an excursion to the outside lands. Along with Tokitsugu, an automaton inhabited by the spirit of a fallen warrior, you must serve the Professor while investigating your time displacement and a way to stop the Oni invaders once and for all.
Open world Oni slaying
If that setup sounds elaborate, it's because Toukiden 2 has grown to become far more than just a Monster Hunter clone. This installment features an expansive single-player campaign with an open world and plenty of story to keep players engaged.
The town still acts as a hub, but it's much larger and more populated than in the old games. Players can set foot out of its gates at any time, revealing an open world to explore. There you'll find occasional NPCs with quests to complete, hidden collectibles, chests with equipment, and even stone tablets that reveal secrets of an ancient civilization.
Naturally, the wilderness has plenty of Oni to battle as well. These mostly consist of minor Oni, but great boss monsters live in certain areas as well. If you have the game's online features enabled, you might even discover an AI version of another player fighting against one of these major Oni. Help the AI player, and it will temporarily join your party, pitching in during battle.
Gates and other obstacles initially limit the explorable area, but these will open up as the story progresses. Some areas are filled with a poisonous miasma created by the Oni. Too much exposure to miasma will kill you, so watch your exposure meter during dangerous excursions.
Thankfully, the miasma can be cleared from surrounding areas by finding magic stones and defeating the bosses that guard them. This lets you explore further and further. Eventually, you'll even be able to establish outpost bases from which you can cleanse miasma poisoning and manage inventory before returning to the hinterlands. Shrine stones allow fast travel between the town, your base, and other locations.
Portal stones also allow access to Toukiden 2's online mode. Use them to create or join a lobby. From there, your team of up to four players can select instanced missions to complete – just like in previous games. Players can revive each other, which proves a big help against tougher monsters.
These missions are generally short and focused, consisting of goals like exterminating specific numbers of minor Oni or defeating one or more boss Oni. That said, the environments are often larger than those of the first game's. Multiplayer missions can be played in single-player with AI partners as well.
How to kill a demon
Toukiden 2's basic combat should feel familiar to anyone who has played a Japanese action-RPG. This installment offers a total of 12 different weapon types to choose from, including melee and ranged options. The sword-and-shield and chain whip are new to Toukiden 2. Although you must choose a weapon upon creating your character, you're free to switch weapon types throughout the game. Crafting new weapons and armor from monster parts plays a role as well, just like in Monster Hunter.
Slayers have three basic attacks during combat, along with a handful of special moves and a dodge roll. The game still lacks a jump button, to my annoyance. But you can leap from cliffs and other high spots to the ground below, which at least adds a bit of verticality.
New to this installment is the Demon Hand, an invention of the Professor's that all party members wear on their hands. The demon hand is a glowing arm that can be used to grapple and swing across the environment and grab and throw energy that leaks from the ground in certain locations (which is largely useless).
As always, defeating gigantic boss Oni involves destroying parts of their bodies like legs, claws, horns, and tails. When these pieces break off, one or more party members must purify them, sucking up the crafting materials within. The Demon Hand comes in handy here. Once its special move meter fills up, you can use it to tear off an Oni part, preventing it from regenerating.
All told, Toukiden 2's combat is fairly tight, with a big emphasis on teaming up with partners to wear down bosses by knocking off their parts until they finally start losing life. The overall difficulty is once again much easier than Monster Hunter, which I see as a big plus. But if you want a more challenging experience, Hard mode unlocks upon completing the game for the first time.
Controls and system requirements
Although Toukiden 2 can be played with mouse and keyboard, you'll want to use a controller for the best experience. This is a console-style game for PC, not a PC game that also appears on consoles.
Koei Tecmo games for PC typically require hefty system requirements, and Toukiden 2 is no different. The minimum specs of a NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 and i7 processor aren't too unreasonable, but the game won't look very pretty unless you have a beefy system. Koei Tecmo definitely needs to improve the optimization of its PC games going forward – but I wouldn't hold my breath on that.
Since Capcom sadly likes to play "exclusive" with Monster Hunter, we're unlikely to see that series on PC anytime soon. Toukiden 2 provides an excellent alternative, playing much like the games that inspired it but with a unique theme based on Japanese folklore.
The addition of a massive single-player campaign turns Toukiden into a full-on RPG, fleshing out the story and world like never before. And when you feel the need for some co-op, the online multiplayer missions are a great way to slay massive bosses with friends. Hopefully, Koei Tecmo will eventually bring Toukiden 2 to Xbox One, but the Steam version is a great choice for gamers with PCs powerful enough to run it.
- A Monster-Hunter-style game with a proper story mode!
- Team up with friends to battle gigantic bosses and harvest their parts.
- The new Demon Hand makes combat more dynamic.
- Poor PC optimization means you'll need a strong system to run it well.
- The Mitama system is even more confusing than in Toukiden: Kiwami.
Toukiden 2 is available now on Steam for $59.99, as well as PlayStation 4 and Vita.
Steam review copy provided by the publisher.
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