This Week in Games - Toukiden 2

by Dustin Bailey,
I did not finish Zelda this weekend. Instead, I played through Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors in its entirety. That wasn't my intention—I'd started it purely to say a few words on the soon-to-be-released PC port—but then it turned out that thing is hecka good. Given a full review, I've got no idea how I would score it. The structure means that you'll be fifteen hours and multiple endings deep before any part of it starts coming together, but now I can't stop thinking about it, which I'm pretty sure is a good sign. Really looking forward to diving deeper into Virtue's Last Reward. You know, after I finish Zelda. Before getting to the body of the column, there are two PSAs to make. First—Switch owners—the Splatoon 2 global testfire is this weekend. That game is cool, don't miss it. Second—folks who still have a PS3 hooked up—Tokyo Jungle is on sale this week for $3. That game is cool, don't miss it.

First Impressions: Toukiden 2

The genre of Monster Hunter-likes has really become a thing over the past few years. Between God Eater, Freedom Wars, and Soul Sacrifice it seems that everyone wants a piece of that hunting action, and the Dynasty Warriors people are no exception. So from Omega Force comes Toukiden, a series that recasts monsters as Oni, and hunters as Slayers devoted to protecting mythological Japan.

If you're coming straight from Monster Hunter, the most surprising thing about Toukiden 2 is how story-driven it is. A prologue sees you doing battle in Yokohama against a sudden Awakening of Oni before being flung through a mysterious portal and dropped miles away ten years into the future in a small village called Mahoroba. There are various factions trying to exert control over the city, mysterious happenings on the outskirts, and some very, very long dialog sequences introducing everything to you. It's not bad, but it is dry, and at least in the early going isn't paced particularly well against the action.

Your custom-built character will gather missions, quests, and tasks from town before heading out into the Oni-ruled Otherworld. Rather than zones separated by loading screen, most of the world is one contiguous space. “Open world” is a bit of a misnomer, but it is significantly more open to exploration than most hunting games. You'll find NPCs with quests out there, as well treasure and collectables in between your battles.

Your abilities in combat are determined both by the weapon type you wield and the Mitama—spirits of long-dead warriors—you have equipped. There are hundreds of different Mitama that all have unique combinations of passive boosts and bonuses, but they're all built from a handful of specific skill sets. An attack Mitama will give you skills that boost your strength, grant health steal, or boosts critical hits. A defense Mitama has taunt and shield abilities. These skills take the place of consumable items, with each ability having a number of charges that are restored upon returning to town. Stats are driven largely through gear, which you'll mostly be crafting through monster parts and materials at the blacksmith.

Standard enemies fall with just a few attacks, but there's a whole process to beating large Oni. You have to target and destroy individual parts—arms, legs, demon wings, whatever—to open up their life force to attack, and all your damage is done by wailing on spectral limbs. There's a fairly basic combo for each weapon type, but you can mix things up with the Demon Hand, a spectral claw that pretty much acts as a super-sweet grappling hook that you can use to close the distance with enemies.

That's a lot of systems description, and it only scratches the surface of all the stuff in the game. There are meters, miasma, Mitama boosts, party members, special moves, Oni Burials, and a whole lot more. But how does it actually feel?

Pretty darn good. I've skirted along the periphery of hunting games for ages. Monster Hunter was always a bit too directionless to grab me, and God Eater's missions felt so tiny and constrained. But Toukiden 2's combination of structured objectives and a more open environment to explore has given me far more forward momentum than I've ever had in a game of this type. Whether or not that works for you will likely depend on your views toward open worlds in general—I'm a big fan of meandering through a wide world, since it means that even momentary boredom with a particular objective is alleviated by just wandering off to the side a bit.

Though I'm hours deep into the game, I've barely escaped the tutorials, and there's far more to see. While the “Monster Hunter for people who can't get into Monster Hunter” idea might be a bit cliche, it's a pretty accurate summation of what I've seen from Toukiden 2 so far, and I definitely plan on digging in further.

NEWS

NINTENDO SAYS JOYCON SYNC ISSUES AREN'T A HARDWARE ISSUE (EXCEPT THEY TOTALLY ARE)

The most widespread issue reported at the Switch launch was the sync problem where the left JoyCon, seemingly at random, would lose sync with the system, leading to frustrated cries everywhere as Link suicidally dives from mountain peaks and towering ruins. But hey, good news! Nintendo says it's not a hardware problem. Instead, it's just a manufacturing problem with the hardware.

Yes, in the semantic argument to end all semantic arguments, Nintendo insists that it's not a hardware issue but a “manufacturing variation,” according to a statement given to Kotaku. It seems the issue was all with first-batch controllers, and everything's been corrected now.

That's great for new Switch buyers, but what about existing owners? Nintendo's taking in affected controllers for repair. It sounds like the process is pretty quick and painless, and us early adopters should know better than to expect, well, anything.

BLOODSTAINED IS DITCHING WII U IN FAVOR OF SWITCH

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is the Kickstarted Castlevania-like from latter-day Vaniameister Koji Igarashi. Now that Konami doesn't make video games anymore (aside from lifeless husks of once-great franchises), Iga is making it up on his own time. However, contrary to the initial announcement, that game will no longer be coming to Wii U—instead, we're looking at a Switch edition.

A statement made to backers from Igarashi suggests that Nintendo's support for third-party Wii U development is drying up due to their change in focus following the new console launch. “This change made it difficult to receive the necessary support from the hardware maker, which has led us to drop the Wii U development and shift the development to Nintendo Switch.”

It's a bummer for folks who wanted that edition of the game, but given the state of the Wii U and the crowdfunding campaign's willingness to offer versions on other platforms or refunds, there's little surprise and minimal harm. Consider this merely your reminder that Nintendo's previous console is dead, and never expect another Wii U game again.

RADIANT HISTORIA IS BACK IN A FULL 3DS REMAKE

Remember Radiant Historia, the nearly decade-old DS RPG that had the whole multiple timeline parallel universe non-linear storytelling multiple ending thing going on? It's back, and in case you don't remember it, it's in a form that is perfectly suited to getting you up to speed. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology was announced for 3DS via Famitsu this week, and it's a full remake of the 2010 original that features improved graphics and new voice acting.

More substantially, it offers a “new scenario” in the form of a Sub-History that goes alongside the Standard and Alternate histories of the original, and you can choose how you want to encounter that new content—whether alongside the original stuff or afterwards—through a mode select at the start of the game.

Perfect Chronology will be released June 29th in Japan. No word from Atlus on a US release, but… Well, it's unusual for any remotely major release these days not see wide localization.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5 + 2.5 REMIX
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: March 28
MSRP: $49.99

If there's one thing I know about Kingdom Hearts fans, it's that they get very upset in the comments when I fail to mention a new KH release. This one's for you guys. This package is basically the same as the pair of remaster collections that came out back in 2013, but updated and bundled together for PS4. There's not much to say here, but this is a heck of a lot of video game in one place.

MARIO SPORTS SUPERSTARS
Developer: Bandai Namco / Camelot
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: March 24
MSRP: $39.99

Yes, Nintendo is continuing to produce 3DS games. Mario Sports Superstars sits somewhere between a proper Mario sports game and Olympic minigame collection, making a five-in-one pack that features soccer, baseball, golf, tennis, and horse racing. Despite involvement from Camelot—who made those dope Mario Golf and Tennis RPGs—early word on this one sounds not good.

ZERO ESCAPE: THE NONARY GAMES
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 / PlayStation Vita / PC
Release Date: March 28
MSRP: $49.99

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games collects both of the first two mind-bending escape-the-room adventures into a single package. I wrote a whole bunch more words on this package elsewhere, but the short version is that this is the best version of a pair of terrific games. If you've got even a passing interest, you should absolutely check this collection out.

ALSO AVAILABLE:
But there's lots more! Has-Been Heroes is a new strategy/action/roguelike thing from the Trine people which is coming to every major home platform, including Switch. Snake Pass is a puzzle-platformer with music from Donkey Kong Country vet David Wise. Then there's Thimbleweed Park, a new old-school comedic adventure game produced by Ron Gilbert.

On top of those indie releases there are also some major bits of DLC out this week. “The Ringed City” will be concluding Dark Souls 3's set of expansions, while Final Fantasy XV will just be getting started with the release of “Episode Gladiolus.”

See you next week!


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