RELEASE DATE: July 28 2016

In the Meiji Era, while most of Japan were living their lives under the new Imperial rule, a group of warriors known as Slayers battled in the shadows against their eternal foe, the Oni. Not content to remain hidden in darkness the Oni revealed themselves to the world in a great battle later dubbed the Awakening, and inadvertently propelled one Slayer through time to ten years in the future. Now, that Slayer must join forces with the Slayers of Mahoroba Village to try and defeat their foe once and for all. The catch? They have no memory of anything before the Yokohama Harbor battle.

“That was the night the world fell into darkness.”

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Developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo, Toukiden 2 is the sequel to Toukiden: The Age of Demons, but does not require any prior knowledge of that title to play. Catapulted forward in time, the player character must work together with others from the village they were brought to after waking up in a completely different time and place in order to resolve conflicts and defeat the Oni. They have a wide array of skills and weaponry at their disposal, as well as a Machina known as a Demon Hand, which was given to them by the enigmatic Professor to ‘help with her research’.

To start with there is a fairly comprehensive character customisation screen, which allows the player control over even minute details of their character’s appearance. Want a character that’s more leg than body? Go for it! Want bright pink hair and and eyepatch? It’s yours! This is a really fun way of making your character truly unique, and mixing up the attributes to create the most ridiculous look possible is a barrel of laughs.

As the game progresses the player absorbs the souls of fallen heroes – known as Mitama – to assist with their fight. Equipping these and raising their stats provides new skills and buffs, so working out the best combination for your fighting style is key. Upgrading your weapons and armour is also essential to max out the best abilities for the area you’re fighting in. However, it is absolutely worth picking up the additional DLC armour pack as they provide excellent all-round defence, allowing you to focus your time and money on your weaponry.

Graphically speaking, the game is spectacular. The cut-scenes are beautifully animated and the in-game graphics are fantastic, so if playing on a PC it’s definitely worth turning the settings up to max! Toukiden 2 also has a gorgeous soundtrack, with music that perfectly compliments the environment and that ranges from whimsical and cheery, to sombre and emotive.

Right from the get go it is impossible not to love the rag-tag band of misfit Slayers calling Yokohama home under the instruction of the Professor. This group work outside the village’s local Slayer groups – the Guards and the Samurai free from the prejudices and internal strife that dictate the actions of most of the other residents. From the machina-lifeform Tokitsugu to the exceptionally strong Benizuki, the characters of Toukiden 2 are well-rounded and varied, making them the ideal group to take on the task of clearing up the Oni mess left by the Awakening.

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While the story has a lot of depth and the characters are intensely likeable, the game definitely has flaws in both the control system and the Western localisation. Despite being optimised for controller, in the heat of battle it can be difficult to pull off some of the button combinations needed, even just for simple tasks like healing. Additionally, the start menu doesn’t actually pause the game but instead takes you to a menu with an active map which, though useful if you’re trying to navigate, means if you need to pause quickly for some reason it can be easy to forget to hit the extra option to pause and leave the game running in the middle of a battle. Speaking of navigation, the mini-map is only vaguely useful. Since it doesn’t seem to turn with the character as they move it makes it hard to find your way around and you often end up running the wrong way for a while and constantly having to refer to the main map to figure out where you’re going.

Toukiden 2 really seems to neglect certain parts of the translation as well. Really only the cut-scenes and the dialogue boxes were given subtitles, meaning that all of the conversation that happens between the characters while you’re on missions is completely lost unless you speak Japanese. At times it’s possible to work out what is being said by context, for example if you’re reaching your Miasma limit in the Otherworld and the characters start to sound worried, but by and large it’s impossible to understand. This prevents English speaking players from enjoying any interactions that may be happening between non player characters, and from picking up any useful hints and tips that might be offered by them as you travel.

VERDICT
A long, intensely enjoyable game even with its flaws,
Toukiden 2 is definitely worth playing through. With a detailed main storyline and plentiful side missions it will keep you occupied for days – as long as the control system doesn’t drive you to distraction first. If you enjoy hack-and-slash battle systems and complex plots you should find Toukiden 2 a wild ride from start to finish.

RATING: 6 out of 10

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