When I wrote my review of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, I made sure to give fair warning about how much of a commitment this beefy RPG demands of players. It's not a game suited for every lifestyle, and if you only have an hour (or less) with video games every day, you may want to roll with something where the action is a little more immediate.
There's been no shortage of Monster Hunter clones over the past few years—especially since the series left Sony handhelds for a much more profitable home on Nintendo's—and the upcoming Toukiden: Kiwami—due March 31 for PS4 and Vita—isn't at all shy about its obvious inspiration: The game borrows heavily from Capcom's action-RPG series, but with demons from Japanese mythology rather than fictional dinosaurs. The differences don't end there, though, as Kiwami (an upgraded version of last year's Toukiden: The Age of Demons for Vita) runs at a much faster pace, and completely cuts out the meticulous item management which often takes up a hefty amount of time in Monster Hunter. But once you know Kiwami comes from Koei-Tecmo studio Omega Force—the makers of Dynasty Warriors—the accessibility they're shooting for shouldn't be surprising.
As with Monster Hunter, Kiwami's overall goal is the same: find the big thing, then kill it (while staying alive). Instead of bringing along items with very specific applications, your character comes equipped with a collection of limited-use boosts to different attributes, including one that restores health. And in Toukiden, you're never alone: Even in single-player mode, you can bring along three AI companions (each with their own specializations) who manage to take care of themselves for the most part, and follow broad commands like "attack," "heal," and "get over here." In general, Kiwami provides a lot more direct guidance than Monster Hunter; activating "oni mode" with the push of a button shows all of a monster's individual parts and their respective health bars—information that's never made available in Capcom's series.
Having played so much Monster Hunter recently, slipping into Toukiden's take on the formula didn't amount to much of a struggle. As with its main influence, these man-versus-monster encounters rely on dodging massive attacks while finding the exact window of time to launch your own. In Omega Force's game, though, the action speeds right along, and even when equipped with massive weapons, your attacks don't feel as slow and deliberate as they do in Monster Hunter. As expected from the developer of Dynasty Warriors, combat often boils down to artless button-mashing—though it still feels great when you're able to successfully lop a wing or tail off of a towering demon. Enemy encounters center around building up a meter which grows whenever you land a successful hit; when it's full, you can launch a devastating special attack that plays out with an elaborate animation. And there's a separate gauge that fills for the sake of performing an even more elaborate attack with your entire party.
Omega Force has certainly figured out a way to streamline the Monster Hunter experience, but if you're a fan of Capcom's series for how many customization options it provides, Toukiden: Kiwami may disappoint you. While each weapon in Monster Hunter controls completely differently, that isn't the case in Toukiden; though their individual animations play out differently, regardless of which type you choose, you'll still be building the same meters and hitting the same button combinations when they're full. In Monster Hunter, a handful of weapons operated on some sort of meter-building mechanic, but in Kiwami, they all do. In my hour with the game, I bounced from weapon to weapon throughout three different monster encounters, and each played out exactly the same. And while I'm sure you'll have to be a little more thoughtful about your approach after making it a little further into the game, trading Monster Hunter's nuance for a much more efficient arcade-y experience seems to be Omega Factor's overall goal with Kiwami.
If, like me, you're the kind of person who gladly spends way too much time poring over items, armor, and weapons for the best possible loadout, Toukiden Kiwami may not click with you. But if you'd like to jump into a Monster Hunter experience without the need to do homework ahead of time, Omega Force's creation stands as a much more approachable experience. This degree of accessibility does have its drawbacks, of course, but those without a lot of free time to spare may find Toukiden: Kiwami much more manageable than the definitive monster hunting experience.