Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Toukiden 2 ~ Impressions Thus Far

Hi guys, and gals! Uncle Brad is dealing with some possible technical issues regarding 'Toukiden 2', and those issues seem to be demo related ... but I could be wrong. While I'm waiting to hear back from KT's PR about the matter I thought I'd go ahead, and let you know what I know thus far into my playthrough. In the immortal words of Mario, "Here we go!" ...

Toukiden 2, from what I can tell, builds completely on what the foundations of the original game, and follow up expanded version set in stone. The main differences this time being the story's setup, the location our hero winds up in, a new demon hand mechanic, and a new take on the Mitama system. As before you'll start the game by creating a male, or female slayer. A customization process which is one of the most detailed Koei Tecmo has created yet, especially in the Toukiden series. You can basically fine tune all of the physical features including that of the face, torso, chest, legs, and even some cosmetic options that add a bit of flair to your initially basic character. Along with that you'll be able to name your character as you see fit with spaces included as an option. No more needing to use an underscore or dash to express your naming creativity. When you are through you'll be swept away via cutscene into the heat of battle alongside Kuyo, and his troop. This all takes place in Yokohama in the midst of an ongoing war against invading Oni. Much like before. Apparently the events herein take place after that of Kiwami in the northern region of Japan though. Upon completing the basic tutorial within this section of gameplay, and fighting against a towering Oni Brutebeast you'll be sucked through a spatial Oni Gate ten years into the future, and far to the west of where you were at to begin with.

Through a chance encounter with a passing soul inclusive machina bot named Tokitsugu, and a wiley lady professor you'll find out that you've not only lost your memory, but your place in history as well. You sort of time traveled, and in order to keep from slipping back through said rabbit hole you must bind yourself to the current time period by taking on quests, and forming bonds with the Mahoroba villagers. This includes getting acquainted with the village shrine maiden, and those who are in protection of her. You'll also meet a new Mitama maiden who doubles as a food supplier, and Mitama booster. Along with that unusual bunch of suspects you'll also gain a ragtag following of personified characters each with their own attitudes, weapons of choice, and partnership perks. It's these latter characters of interest whom you will choose in groups of three to join you on quest outings to fight Oni underlings, and Oni bosses of varying types. Supposing you are going at the adventure alone The drive behind it all is to not only rid the world of the Oni threat, and progress the story in doing so, but also to grind for materials to create, fortify, and forge new gear to help you better stand a chance against the more formidable Oni adversaries.

As far as said gear, and armor goes nothing has really changed with the exception of some new upgraded editions. At shop you can outright purchase the basic bits, and bobbles for a price supposing you show your patronage enough, or you can have the village blacksmith create, fortify, and forge these magical masterpieces for coin, and gathered material. Creating armor or weapons at the blacksmith is the first step in obtaining the item for use. After you've created it you can fortify it's attack/defense stats if you have the material and coin. You can also forge new weapons, and armor out of the fortified/non-fortified gear for a price. This usually creates an even more powerful version of the weapon with different adhered affinity stats. Materials, like the gear itself come in different varieties. Material-wise you'll find rarer haku items either from down and purified enemies, or through the field sparkles that can be picked up by pressing "X". Weapons on the other hand are the same assortment we got before. There's the sword, daggers, spear, sickle & chain, gauntlets, sword & shield combo, rifle, and club. Each of which comes complete with two melee attacks (light & heavy), a two special attacks, and a destroyer attack for dealing with bosses. With these weapons your aim will either be to deal with the lesser Oni as quickly as possible, or use your assortment of attacks to hammer away at Oni Boss parts until they fall off. After which you'll utilize the universal miasma purification to purify the part/body, and take from it the materials needed to make the stronger weapons, and gear.

Aside from those basic weapon functionalities you'll find your slayer has an evasive roll, the ability to see the state of an Oni's health via the 'Oni Gaze', the previously mentioned "Demon Hand", and three unique boosts tied to whatever Mitama is equipped to your weapon. The Mitama, as before, are the fallen spirits of samurai and soldiers who died fighting the Oni. By killing certain Oni you'll free their souls (Mitama), and they will aid you in battle via their attachment to weapons. The Mitama system this time around is different though. Instead of being straightforward stat/affinity boosts they can be leveled up through battle. This will allow for extra choices of boosts that basically equate to additional perks. In fact each Mitama specializes in a certain type of battle focus. You'll find some that help with the actual Oni body parts, attack output, or even defenses among other things. There's a Mitama for every type of battle situation imaginable. In addition to these Mitama perks, and boosts comes the ability to level them up quicker with a prayer at the villages Mitama maiden. Not only can you use found, or bought branch items to activate these hour long Mitama boost amplifiers, but you can also buy ingredients at the nearby shop vendor to have her cook up a meal which gives your slayer various perk specific boosts as well on a timed limit. There's all that, and the "Demon Hand". In the game's story the professor equips your slayer and his/her allies with these grappling devices. In battle they can be used to grapple to enemy parts, and pull you towards them for an added follow up aerial attack. Not only that but they can grab onto cliffs, and pull you up as well as consume/throw geopulses for added affinity specific damage. The latter usage only being available when a geopulse (fire, water, wind ...) is within range on the open field.

When it comes to quests they too follow a similar setup as that of the original Toukiden game. They are rated in difficulty by stars, and carry with them timed instructions that must be followed out in whatever age (Peace, Honor ...) the phase of  the quest you are on takes place. Some quests will be simple kill quotas while others will have you exploring, or fighting Oni bosses. New to the quest mixture are the "Ruin Explorations" which have you exploring multiple levels of an age in either a timed, or infinitely timed format. In these instances the goal is to reach the first five floors, and return to the village, or either continue until the next five floors are complete to do that return. Floors contain both lesser, and boss type Oni that must be killed in order to advance. To find out where you need to be, or where things are on quest outings the game provides a small circular map that can be zoomed in, or out of (slightly). While I wish it were a full screen map it is what it is. It should also be noted that the map has icons for every item, and Oni situation in the game. It also pinpoints, and showcases geopulses.

Going about all of this business can be done alone, or with online companions via Toukiden 2's lobby matchmaking system. When you first begin at the Watchtower waypoint after having completed the initiation quest you will find a portal stone that will either take you to another portal stone or to slayer headquarters. The Slayer HQ being the place where you choose quests before heading out the nearby village gate. It's at the HQ that you'll find a lobby stone with which you can choose to play the singleplayer game, and command your three AI companions to do your bidding (L2), or where you can join others in battle. The online lobby experience comes complete with the option for pre-made chat/ free text chat, and emoji interactions with your online teammates. All done through the touchpad flick controls (directional swiping). As far as matchmaking goes you'll have a select amount of search variables to tweak including region, the amount of players, and the quest that the host has set as their goal among a few other things. You can also create your own lobby if you like with even more settings available for fine tuning your online experience. Once you've completed a quest online you can use the HQ lobby stone to opt out back into singleplayer if you like, or continue playing as long as the team doesn't disband.

Graphically, 'Toukiden 2' is a far superior version of it's predecessors. Everything from the static anime art to the cutscenes, and even the in-game character/creature design are steps above what the previous experiences offered. One key difference in display is the land layout itself. The world in Toukiden 2, which comes with various details, and weather is vastly more open-world, especially during the exploration quests. In some exploration quests it will take close to, if not all of the 90 allotted minutes to trek across the land, and kill all that needs killing. The land details themselves are not repetitive in the slightest, and includes some truly impressive textures and lighting. The trippy effects of the Oni Gaze, and the psychadellic coloring of damaged larger Oni make the environments of 'Toukiden 2' pop in the most colorful of ways. Toukiden 2 is definitely a gameplay beauty to behold, and the suondtrack is quite impressive itself with it's ancient Japanese inspired tunes. For those of you looking for Japanese vocals you get those automatically along with English subtitles for better understanding. None of which takes away from the experience. With all things considered thus far Toukiden 2 is not all that bad, I'm just hoping there's more story elements to it as i seem to be stuck in a glitched extended version of the demo.

And that my friends is what I know thus far. Gut instinct tells me there's much more to the game though, but we shall see ...

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