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Review: Tokaido (PC)


Traipsing through Japan

I'm pretty much a sucker for anything having to do with feudal Japan. It was a fascinating time period, full of larger-than-life figures, beautiful art, and a warring tapestry that would take a lifetime to study.

That's why I gravitated so quickly to the lovely box for Tokaido whenever I would go over to a friend's place for board game night. Tokaido, in any form, can best be described as a "chill game with a little bit of deviousness." As you can imagine your mileage may vary.

Tokaido (PC) 
Developer: Funforge
Publisher: Funforge
Released: December 4, 2017
MSRP: $9.99

Like many digital board game conversions (especially ones done by the same studio that handled the tabletop rendition), Tokaido is a simple app without many bells and whistles, though the option to up the ante to 60 FPS isnt' something typically found in tabletop ports.

Tokaido, created by the legendary Antoine Bauza, is a relaxing game all about walking and taking in the sights -- and potentially denying other people those same pleasures. Two to five players visit spots in a straight line, head to an inn each night, and after four days you compare victory points to see who wins. Some destinations are shops, others randomly bestow a specific number of points, and a few have unique properties. Buying objects of different types (much like collecting science in 7 Wonders, another Bauza joint) will net you more points, and turns are taken based on how far back you are in the line. Different avatars also have unique powers, but they're mostly nominal. Take Zen Emon -- he can purchase his first item for one coin -- or Kinko, who can buy meals at inns for one less coin. It's just enough to add a little flair and choice in to prevent every game from feeling the same.

That's basically it. Your job is to use your power to the best of your ability, and try to balance your checkbook (coin purse) as well as game the system. Maybe you need to visit a farm to gain coins to buy an upcoming item, or perhaps just go for straight victory points? Some of the latter spots have risky propositions like painting a full picture based on five scenes, all of which grant ascending amounts of points -- or you could just go for the safe guaranteed two points at a spring.

Every optimal action you perform depends on what your opponents are doing, adding a bit of counterplay to the equation. This is especially the case if you get blocked out of one of those aforementioned sequential quests, as zones can only have one or two players in them at a time. Or, you could go for broke on an endgame goal (like most generous donations to the temple) and be thwarted at the very last second if someone snatches victory from under you. While it's true that your actions are limited at times, people who pay attention can really push other players that aren't down on the totem pole. At times it seems like everyone is playing their own game -- and you absolutely can if you don't want to get too competitive -- but there is some level of depth there.

I think this sort of experience lends itself to a digital medium because of the linear nature of the traversal system. While busting this out and getting all of the cards and tokens sorted might be a pain, the system is simple enough to boot up quickly with no setup or takedown. The beautiful art has translated well, and my favorite part has to be seeing each part of a painting unfold as you unlock them. Now accompanied by a soundtrack, I feel like the 3D art and the hand drawn bits do convey the serene nature of the actual board. There are no expansions included at the moment, which is perhaps why the price point is so low.

Tokaido isn't something I can play multiple games of in one sitting -- single sessions at a time are enough. Thankfully, there's options for solo, pass and play, and online capabilities (as long as you register for a proprietary Funforge account) so whenever I do want to jump back in, I can. Digital or physical Tokaido has a somewhat polarizing reputation among hardcore hobbyists, but I personally love seeing it cycle in frequently.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Tokaido reviewed by Chris Carter



Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures



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