For as crazy as the world can be, there are certainties we can always fall back on. The sun will rise in the east, your cat will never catch the red dot, and Japan will invariably be attacked by huge monsters. Whether it’s classic titans like Godzilla and Mothra, the giant foes of Super Sentai (the basis for the Power Rangers) or more recent entries such as Attack on Titan, Japan and massive enemies have a long history.
Following up 2013’s Toukiden: Age of Demons and 2014’s Toukiden: Kiwami, Toukiden 2 puts players back in the role of a Slayer in mid-industrial-era Japan, which is under siege from merciless oni, demons that want nothing more than to destroy humanity.
As a time-displaced slayer, your job is to lead a band of fellow warriors, hunt down the oni and purify the land. But where Toukiden 2’s story follows well-trodden ground, its gameplay delivers surprising depth that had me itching to go out for just one more hunt every time.
Players start out in the town of Mahoroba, one of the last bastions of human refuge. Through various quests, missions and ventures into multi-level ruins, Toukiden challenges players to slay oni of increasing difficulty and size. Smaller enemies usually fall in one or two hits, particularly when travelling with three other AI companions, but the larger beasts are the game’s main focus.
With 11 different weapon types to choose from, Toukiden 2 offers a plethora of options to take down your enemies with style and skill. Although you can jump in and start mashing buttons, the game encourages a more strategic approach. To start with, each large oni has two health bars: an outer shell and its true essence.
Destroying the shell doesn’t directly damage the oni, instead stunning it, making its health bar susceptible to damage. Think of it as a type of shield, but one that has high resilience and won’t go down easily. To more efficiently take down an oni, players can lock on to specific body parts, which have individual health bars that can be viewed through a system called the Eye of Truth.
While active, the Eye allows players to see the different parts they can target, how much damage they’ve taken and which have already been destroyed, a critical step that instantly takes down the oni’s outer shell and leaves it open to punishment. After a short time, larger enemies attempt to regenerate, forcing you to repeat the cycle until the monster goes into an enraged state, in which it loses its shield but gains quicker, more damaging, less predictable attacks.
Targeting specific body parts doesn’t just whittle down an oni’s health faster. As Toukiden 2 likes to repeat, the best way to slay an oni is using weapons crafted from oni, meaning that every body part doubles as a crafting component. It adds to the meta- and end-game content by forcing players to not just hunt specific enemies, but also to defeat them in a certain way.
Fortunately, Toukiden 2 gives you countless ways to do that. In addition to the 11 different weapon types, there’s also a robust upgrade system that allows you to apply a straight damage increase, add elemental effects or up your critical hit chance. Different enemies provide different elemental affinities, and the unique parts from those enemies correspond to different weapon classes.
For example, a particular oni may open a tier of fire-based weaponry. The arm of that oni may correspond to crafting a sword, while the horn or tail could be used to craft a bow or chain whip. Oni parts are also used for crafting new armor, which despite not being as flashy as a newly acquired weapon is still invaluable in surviving the late-game missions.
As the game progresses, players also discover Mitama, fallen warrior spirits who provide unique attributes and skills when equipped. Toukiden 2 allows you to have three active Mitama at a time (and a fourth in special circumstances), which can drastically alter gameplay.
As an example, equipping two Mitama that increase the homing arrow skill on a bow can turn a relatively tame ability into something that can destroy an end-game enemy’s outer shell in a single shot. Finding, equipping and matching Mitama becomes a game within the game, and it’s incredibly satisfying to set up a build after searching for the right combination.
A unique tool called the Demon Hand complements your loadout of Mitama and weapons, functioning as a way to maneuver around the battlefield, disable oni and, after charging it enough, permanently destroying an oni’s body part so it can’t regenerate.
Weapons, warrior spirits and a Demon Hand fit together well, but it’s Toukiden 2’s highly competent AI that make the game shine. I was genuinely surprised how well my computer-controlled party fought and defended, and more often than not, they were the ones reviving me, not the other way around.
For those so inclined, the game’s multiplayer allows you to team up with three other friends or strangers, and once you do, you can bring back an AI-controlled replica of their character to use in your single-player game.
Whether you choose to play with other players or alone, Toukiden 2’s atmosphere and visuals do a lot to keep things interesting. Environments generally offer expansive, if slightly uninspired, scenery, and the design of the large oni is something that never gets old. Smaller oni aren’t as visually appealing, but it’s clear there was stilla lot of thought and detail that went into each design.
The Japanese voice acting does an excellent job immersing you in the atmosphere, too. And despite the cast of characters and plot falling into storytelling tropes, there’s a charm to the game’s narrative.
Toukiden 2 continues the tried-and-true tradition of Japan and their giant monsters, earning itself 4 GiN Gems out of 5.