Preview – Tokiden 2

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It’s raining demos! Publishers are eager to stimulate the market and convince undecided customers. KoeiTecmo is one of them and has two demos scheduled for this Spring. Contrary to the demo of Ni-Ô which will be released worldwide, the trial version of Tôkiden 2 is exclusively available for Japanese Playstation Plus members for now.

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Like always in the “hunting” games, you’re invited to create your own character before entering the fray. We once more appreciate Omega Force’s talent on that subject, because like in Samurai Warriors 4, you can modulate everything form the eye size to the position of the nose, with also a large array of haircuts and a fully customizable anatomy. Such precision in the character making allows the player to reach to idea he has of his character. Bigger recent open world games should learn from it.

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No real story transition from Tokiden Kiwami here, the demo focusing on the game system. The player is dropped in the base camp, to check the smith’s services and saying hi to the his new buddies, like the local priestess Kuon. New in the Mononofu village, you need to make proof of your value as a warrior. Hence you are given a simple mission, designed to help you discover the brand new open world.

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The world of Tokiden 2 is seriously large when you think it’s just a demo. It feels like you can run forever. The game refrains from giving unnecessary guidance, letting you explore as you wish, going into the mines or searching for some shirube, glimmering lights that are proof of your exploring skills. That said, there weren’t many ennemies. The Oni weren’t numerous, nor were they any strong or really aggressive : it was kinda hitting a punching-ball… We’re pretty far from the violence of God Eater’s combat for example.

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The quest system is interesting : some villagers are spread within the world map and they have requests for you. It’s been a lot about fetching unique items, but interesting because they are well hidden (I found them by chance). More interesting, a man will ask you to find his brothers : Morikage, Yamakage and Mizukage, each associated to a natural element. There’s a clear focus on searching and exploration, it’s pleasant and feel the will to deliver something original.

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The demo also features an area called ikai, sort of cursed land. The air is poisoned so your group can hold only for a limited time. If you take too much time exploring, it’s game over. There’s still the possibility to purify a stele and establish a rest area. A good idea that adds interest to the exploration. The game still has standard missions that send you into small closed areas to face monsters, some being a lot tougher.

The demo includes four weapons : a katana, a shield and sword, a bow and a strange chain weapon. Sword combat is as dull as before : it’s slow, there is no intensity in this fighting style. When I deal one blow with those, I can deal 5 in God Eater. Simple as that. The bow brought some good sensations though. It has various attack options and cool animations in its wielding. You can shoot arrows successively, against several target at once or charge your arrow while still moving. A fine weapon illustrated in the above video I’ve taken (I’m probably paying poorly but it’s the first time I’ve been really getting into the series).

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But the exciting thing of the demo is this weapon. It’s actually not whip-sword (because it can’t take the form of a sword) nor is it a kusarigama (which was in Tokiden Kiwami). I’d suppose it’s an variant of the kusari fundo, heavy chained weapon of ancient Japan. It is fan-tas-tic. It’s fast, it can hit front of you or all around you, or you can also zoom to focus the damage on one enemy. In short, the weapon this game needed to be fully dynamic.

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In terms of general gameplay, that is to say common to all weapons, a skill palette is available on R1. The skills on it will vary depending on which Mitama you’ve associated to your weapon, armor and Oni no te (see below)., but there’s always a cure spell. A Mitama is a card containing the spirit of heroes of the past, divided in specializations (cure, attack, defense, speed, etc.) and giving status advantages or stat bonuses. The interface is very clear so it’s quick and easy to elaborate your own battle strategy. Apart from that, the lock seemed to perform poorly for its low responsiveness and stability.

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Big novelty of this sequel, Oni no te is a giant ghostly demonic hand you can activate with R2. It several uses : you can for example grasp a camp fire and just throw it, or access hidden areas. Your character can also cling to an enemy and throw himself upwards to perform an aerial combo, clever maneuver to strike while staying out of reach. Last but not least, the Oni no te can pluck off an demon’s limb when the cooperation gauge is filled.

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In its graphics an animation, Tokiden 2 is uneven. Sceneries are definitely good to look at but aren’t really baffling. The level of details is not what you’d expect on PS4, and the geography doesn’t stand out, the land being too flat. In brief, it lacks this wow effect you feel when playing AAA open worlds. The game looks designed with the Vita in mind, the character modeling being barely average. Animation also is clearly faulty here, especially the strange way in which your avatar runs. The frame-rate had serious hiccups but surprisingly, this problem disappears when you leave the village… Despite those critics made in absolute terms, Tokiden 2 certainly becomes the more impressive hunting game to date : its open world surpasses God Eater 2 Rage Burst and sends Monster Hunter directly in a horror museum.

Definitely an excellent demo. The series has made dramatic progress since Tokiden Kiwami in both intensity and game system. Its open world should revolutionize hunting games, provided it is enriched and enhanced to give more challenge. The exploration seems to be given a big focus, the gameplay is rich, so this Tokiden 2 might be the one that will topple God Eater out of the throne.

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