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Category Archives: Ps Vita

Toukiden – The Age of Demons (and Demon Hunters)

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Okay, I’m a little late with this one, but lets get started…

Let’s take Samurai/Dynasty Warriors, Monster Hunter, a tiny bit of Soul Sacrifice and a few big, fearsome demons right out of the Japanese Mythology, throw it into a blender and see what happens. That not only sounds like me when I try to cook something when my fridge is a frozen wasteland, it is also the first thought I had for Toukiden.

Does that mean something bad? I have survived each of my cooking experiments without harm. Just look at my words! Do they read like someone who is on the verge of dying or insanity?

…Let’s…just ignore the fact the voices in my head just started a debate over this matter, shall we?

Anyway…Let’s look at the setting of the game. Oni, demonlike creatures, plague the land of Nakatsu Kuni (meaning “Middle country” – coming from Ashihara no Nakatsukuni “The middle country of reed beds” between Takamagahara (Plain of High Heaven) and Yomi no Kuni (Place of yellow springs or Hell)) and the Slayers (mononofu -> warrior or samurai) are the ones who make it their duty to kill…well… slay those beasts to preserve peace in the lands.

Eight years prior to the plot, an event called “Awakening” took place. A great Oni emerged out of Yomi and brought an age of calamity over the humans who now try to hold the lines desperately against the waves of Oni sweeping down against them.

You, a mere rookie, are sent to such a final holding line, a village named Utakata and live a life as a Slayer…Oh, and did I mention that you are also the only reinforcements this village gets? I’m no genius when it comes to tactics, but I don’t think that is the best way to protect one of the last standing points against Oni, but well…

Let’s just send a rookie (*cough* fresh meat) to one of the most dangerous places! What could go wrong?

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Holy…That is not what I have signed up for.

Since there is no backstory to the protagonist, I can only suspect that he/she did something which offended the higher ups big time. They really seem desperate to send you to your certain death. 

Of course you are to stubborn to actually bite the dust, since you are a special little Slayer-in-training (and the only ray of hope…Yes, you have guessed it: These are really desperate times). A Slayer normally bounds with one Mitama (“Honorable Spirit” or Spirit of a hero) and thus can use their powers. You on the other hand can bound with more. A hell lot of more, considering there are 200 Mitamas in the game. What hell it must be when they begin to talk in your head…

Speaking of sunshine, rainbows and voices inside heads, this is a rather interesting mechanic. Each Mitama gives you special abilities which you can use during battle dand they can level up so that it gives you even more things to choose from. Additionally, the artwork for the different people is gracious, but this is just my personal standpoint.

So, I just arrived at the village, a nice little town, green and flourishing at the bottom of a tree. Everything is nice and peaceful besides a few Oni encounters here and there, you get some nice NPCs (nothing new, but still amusing) and then the plot gets on. And on. And on.

And things go from bad to maybe-world-shattering-worse.

Monster Hunter isn’t funny, more neutral, but has charming moments with the feline companions and the bright enviroment and landscapes. Soul Sacrifice…It was clear that this was no game with joy and unicorns since the very beginning (not the nice sort of unicorns at least). Toukiden greets you with characters who seem totally sane and stereotypical and then gives them backgrounds where you wonder that they are not more nervous wrecks with the whole thing going on from the psychological standpoint.

All in all, the main storyline is acceptable for a hunting game (just to remind you I normally dig story and storyline, but this time it is just to set the stage)  , the characters not too bland (maybe a little stereotypical) and the setting interesting. I would go more into the plot section, but I don’t want to spoil anything for new Gamers.

About the mechanics…It wasn’t incrediably difficult to get into it, it makes fun to rid the huger Oni from their extremeties which is especially funny when your weapon is a little more powerful and you go back to earlier missions and see the bodyparts flying around in short order.

If a body part is cut, you need to purify it, which is essentially standing and reciding a haku until it is gone. If you don’t…well…the big bad oni will reclaim it and you can begin anew in hacking away that annoying thing.  (Especially annoying since certain body parts give you certain items you need for smithing new weapons and armor) Some attacks and the behavior of some Oni change with the lack of body parts and general health as well.

You have also different weapons to choose from: A huge sword, a spear, Chain&Sickle, a bow, a pair of armored fists, dual blades which all play differently with own combo sets. Additionally you can embed your Mitama in it which gives you different boni and offers different strategies in battles. The Eye of Truth mechanic not only shows you the body parts which you can slash away, but also “hidden” Oni which can’t be send with seen with the naked eye.

From these weapons the bow is by far the most boring to play, but it is very effective when you need certain bodyparts for smithing.

Was it worth the hunt? Well, yes. Not the best but still quite acceptable. There were no real problems with the game controls, the setting is interesting as well as the designs. The story and characters itself is nothing new, but they show own characteristics. To be honest, I was expecting something far worse, but it was really nice. I have made this post short, since everyone has already written about it. I hope my next posts are longer and better…I need to get back to this thing first.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Ps Vita

 

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Soul Sacrifice – A Sorcerer’s Hunt for Souls

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I followed this game with interest from the announcement to the release. I will be honest with you, it wasn’t really the title, the setting or the game play which picked my interest.

“Hmm…maybe a Monster Hunter/God Eater with Sorcerers…*scrolls down*”

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.”What the?…Is… that his spine?”

This is “Excalibur” or more commonly known your spine.(“I’m the bone of my sword” indeed)

Yes, it was the gory artwork. But then again, what did I expect? A Monster Hunter crossover with Harry Potter? I was surprised by how…dark (and gory) it is. Monster Hunter was colorful with the backgrounds, monsters and equitment, okay, God Eater was a rather depressing apocalyptic future setting, but it has an animesque design. Soul Sacrifice…just look at the picture above. Don’t expect the game to be any more cheery than that.

The game starts with you in a cell. (yeah, you often start out in a cell in games) Around you there are maggots which feast on the flesh of those before you and it is littered with bones and other gory stuff. You are just another human sacrifice for a mad Magus and you don’t have any other choice to submit to your fate.

Until you pick up a book. (Well, the book told you to pick it up.)

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This is Librom (Latin for…you guessed it “Book”), a talking demon book. With it, you can experience the story of a powerful, nameless Sorcerer and find a way to fight your fate. So, you browse through the book, make quests (either story or quests for the Guild Avalon), gather sacrifices and read what happened to the author of this book.

What I find interesting is, that it tells a story and you can read more about the backstory of the Monsters you slay, since those were either animals or human beings, who made a pact to gain what the want. Every kind of monster has a unique backstory. The Gargoyle was a noble man, who was extraordinary talented, but broke bit by bit as the expectations and the rumors around him didn’t die down. He wished that he was a stone, unremarkable at the side of a road. Then he met a woman who noticed this little stone and it was love at the first sight…So he wished for legs to follow her…Yeah, that didn’t went well.

If you look at the map, you will be reminded of something (*cough* Europe *cough*) and if you read the backstory about the whole Romalus vs. Druids, you get an idea on what it’s based on. That and the focus on the Legend of Arthur and the Kights of the Round Table.

This adds to the feeling as you stand before the former monster (they turn back, if you defeat them) as they plead for their life. As Sorcerer it is your task to kill them for “justice”,

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The story doesn’t hide that fact from you, even the Sorcerers are well aware of it, but accept it as necessity. The way the story progresses, the characters and the way it is depicted in the book leave a somber feeling, which is very good, since it makes me curious, it makes me care and understand what goes through the persons mind who wrote this book. (This is just a personal feeling, mind you) To use monologues is a powerful thing in the writing department, when done right.

You can do extra missions with fellow Sorcerers who also tell a story. Sometimes, I would have liked to see more of the characters, more about their story, how they develop and think. (What this is the ending for this person? Nothing more?)

But back to the game mechanics. You sacrifice things and people to fight those monsters. You can only use a thing only a specific amount of time until it breaks. If it doesn’t break, it will be fully regenerated after the mission. You can also upgrade the things and mold them together to get new sacrifices. Although the inventory is messy and it takes a while to find something (yeah, I gather a lot of stuff), the different sacrifces offer different strategies. Some spells are ranged, some are close combat, some can be used as shield, some launch you at the enemy and there are different elements.

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And of course, you can sacrifice your own comrades and yourself to execute a powerful spell. (if you are the sacrifice, you stay as a ghost who can see how long the creature lives…and you also get special rewards) You can, if you have the possibility, sacrifice your own skin to summon a powerful fire attack and with this comes with a permanent penalty. You can sacrifice or spare other monsters after you defeat them. They either boost your magic ability and attack (sacrifice) or your defense and life (spare). This again levels up your arm in the “red” (sacrifice) or “blue” (spare) section and change its appearance.

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And it burns, burns, burns …~

You can also give your arm runes which provides boni for you (more life, attack etc.), but to use them fully your arm has to meet a requirement (either to lean to spare or sarcrifice, or neutral). Additionally, some quests play out differently if you sacrifice or spare the huge monsters and reveal other quests. For example, after you spare for example a Gargyole, the next quest is about an assassine sent from the guild to kill you, because you broke the codex. If you spare humans, they will join you as comrades (They can die and will leave you if you don’t do what they prefere)

You can use the Lacrima (yeah, Librom, you don’t cry…of course…this word only means “tear”) which you get from the book to fix dead comrades and broken items and clear you penalties.

The battles…I was surprised how good this whole sacrifice thing works. Of course, you need some pratice to see, which monster has which weakness and what sacrifice is the best for the situation. What annoys me…is the fact you can’t jump (please correct me if I’m wrong) Some fiends are airborne and since you can use different things (such as arrows) only an amount of times…you get the idea. It’s annoying.

The AI comrades…they aren’t the brightest on their field, since they can stand in the way and throw you around, but can also be helpful. You just need to watch what items they have to see who is more fit for the job. They can revive you, you can revive them and vice versa with the sacrifice.

All in all, it is a good game. It has a few flaws which can make it frustrated at times, but nothing gamebreaking, The story and presentation can be something not everybody enjoys, but personally, I find it a solid good game with interesting ideas, battle system and story.

Was it worth the hunt? I say yes. Not the best game I have ever played, but still good and enjoyable nothingtheless.

Until the next hunt.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Ps Vita

 

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