Ghostwire Tokyo’s opening does not muck round: the busy Shibuya district of Tokyo is immediately emptied of its pedestrians, and amid the fracas our protagonist, Akito, dies. A spirit known as KK enters the deceased physique of Akito, bringing him again to life with one caveat: he should share his physique with KK. Not an important prospect to begin with, having to share one’s physique with another person. However KK is a gruff arsehole, half robust cop and half Reddit conspiracy concept man, so it is even worse than you would possibly anticipate.
Akito’s choice is unfair: he isn’t a selected one or something, just a few random Tokyo man who says “what the…” loads. And so, within the opening sequence of Ghostwire Tokyo, interloper KK teaches this rando easy methods to use Ethereal Weaving, which is principally simply ghost magic, I believe, and includes the majority of Ghostwire Tokyo’s fight. KK additionally brings different helpful benefits, like Spectral Imaginative and prescient (principally investigation mode) and the power to make use of flying tengus to launch onto the Tokyo rooftops with a button press. KK has a mission of seeming existential significance, associated to fixing the very conspicuous downside of regardless of the hell’s occurred to Tokyo. Akito, then again, desires to come back to assistance from his unwell sister. Because of this, they’re pressured to collaborate.
KK’s powers are extraordinarily helpful while you’re residing in a spirit-haunted model of Tokyo, populated by speaking cat distributors, and awash in a grim spectral fog that additionally serves to gate off areas of the map till you have cleansed an related Torii Gate. Tango Gameworks, of The Evil Inside fame, has achieved superlative work creating a beautiful neon-lit model of Tokyo. It is laborious to get a way of how huge the ultimate recreation’s map shall be, as a result of it is step by step unlocked with play, however it positive is dense with steam-drenched aspect alleys, tucked away shrines, and garish fluorescent shopfronts and LED signage–to not point out the fully-explorable rooftops. Overlook haunted homes: this can be a haunted metropolis, and whereas The Evil Inside 2 dabbled in giant sandbox-style ranges, the size of Tokyo right here is spectacular.
However extra spectacular are the enemies, named Guests, that now populate the city sprawl. These are closely influenced by Japanese city myths and folklore, and are fairly not like any videogame baddies you are ever more likely to see in a first-person magic ’em up set within the modern-day. The aforementioned flying tengus patrol the air, modernised variations of a kasa-obake—principally a sentient umbrella—roam the streets, and all method of different yokai—actually “unusual apparition” in Japanese—have overtaken the well-known neighbourhood of Shibuya. You have seen the footage. They’re bonkers.
Nonetheless, within the early hours of Ghostwire Tokyo (I performed a PS5 construct—preview code for PC wasn’t accessible) the act of really preventing them is a bit combined. I unlocked three elemental assaults over the course of the primary two chapters—wind, fireplace, water—all of that are projectile assaults that emanate out of your eerily glowing palms. With out fail, fight was largely about backing away whereas spamming all or any of those assaults, and whilst you can block—an ideal block will carry out a parry—I by no means felt any strain to make use of it. One boss I confronted late in my playthrough did not actually ratchet issues up in any respect: I simply stood and fired till it was useless. The fixed have to replenish your ammunition through melee attacking spectral particles makes issues barely extra frantic, however in early recreation at the very least, fight does not really feel significantly nuanced. Akito can glide by the air utilizing his newfound skills, however he tends to lumber on foot: a fast dodge would most likely make fight really feel a bit of extra fluid.
There’s an in depth ability tree with three major tiers, cut up throughout ‘skills’, ‘Ethereal weaving’ (fight) and ‘Tools’ (upgrades to your bow and extra). XP to spend on these upgrades is gained by finishing missions, but in addition by saving misplaced spirits unfold all through the map, and depositing them at payphones unfold all through Tokyo. As soon as you have achieved this, some man known as Ed will assist them “change into residing people as soon as extra.”
There’s stealth, however given how straightforward the fight is, utilizing it does not really feel mandatory besides the place the sport forces you to. Taking enemies out from afar with the bow is a neat and clear strategy to clear an area, however once more: in early recreation, the sledgehammer strategy will just do fantastic.
That, and the simplicity of the fight, could look like important issues in an motion recreation, however I nonetheless actually loved my time with Ghostwire Tokyo, and that is wholly to do with the setting. In an interview with Tango Gameworks’ Kenji Kimura and Masato Kimura—director and producer respectively—it is made clear that the setting is the place a bulk of the blood, sweat and tears went.
To present you a style:
“Tokyo is a really huge combination of the outdated and new,” Masato Kimura stated. “There’s a whole lot of tremendous fashionable buildings and a whole lot of conventional ones, and in addition, while you stroll round, even in Shibuya’s avenue crossing, you would possibly see a darkish alley, and down that darkish alley, it’d lead you to a shrine, or a spot with an outdated statue, or a neighbourhood with regular homes.
“We needed to seize that coolness,” he went on. “From the mythological standpoint, we needed to consider: in case you’re strolling by the town and also you’re seeing these locations, like a darkish alley, you usually most likely would not go there in regular life. However within the recreation, since it is a recreation, you may truly do this. In the event you go into the darkish alley, what sort of legendary creature could possibly be there? What are we truly afraid of, that may be there? We have been in a position to play with and brainstorm with that sort of pondering, and that is how the combination of sci-fi with mythology took place.”
Ghostwire Tokyo completely has a wierd, haunting ambiance that I have not actually skilled in a recreation earlier than, even when at instances it is undermined by KK and Akito’s annoying banter. And in case you’re a fan of The Evil Inside’s “hallway horror”—shapeshifting, set piece-oriented traversals by psychedelic landscapes—properly, Ghostwire Tokyo has that in spades, although it isn’t a horror recreation in any respect. I’ve solely performed just a few hours, however Ghostwire Tokyo looks like a bizarre experiment for the studio: a recreation constructed round a robust need to make an totally distinctive and distinctively Japanese tackle the city open world style. Whether or not the moment-to-moment motion can dwell as much as that imaginative and prescient is but to be seen.