Ghostwire Tokyo Review – Dealing With The Struggle Within
Ghostwire Tokyo shines in two key areas: atmosphere and world design. It takes place in a bright Tokyo where streets are illuminated by neon lights and massive signboards, yet in the midst of it all is a city where the majority of the humans have vanished and evil spirits have taken their place. Unfortunately, Ghostwire Tokyo has flaws, most notably in the progression loop and combat. Even though it excels in other areas such as creature and world design.
Akito, the main character of Ghostwire Tokyo, is a human who is possessed by a strange detective spirit known only as KK in the game. This also grants Akito certain spiritual abilities, which he utilizes to cleanse the streets of Tokyo of bad spirits while looking for answers about what happened to his sister Mari. Akito was looking for his sister, who was at a nearby hospital when a paranormal incident nearly wiped off the whole Tokyo population. The major source of this supernatural occurrence appears to be some Hannya mask-wearing strangers that approach Akito in the hospital. They also appear to have a connection to KK. Meanwhile, it is KK’s goal to save the world and foil the plans of the villains wearing Hannya masks.
Ghostwire Tokyo takes its time perfecting combat and exploration. It is essentially an open world that is hampered by certain archaic design decisions, such as enveloping areas of the map in poisonous fog, which prevents exploration. Akito must locate shrines around the map that must be cleansed with a ritual to eliminate the toxic gas and open up more of the area for exploration. This aspect of the game mechanism is quite antiquated and suffers from repetitions, such as traveling to a shrine, defeating enemies, and then executing the ritual to free the shrine.
That is not to argue that exploring the open world is uninteresting. On the contrary, Ghostwire Tokyo’s world map provides enough content with its different items and side missions. These side tasks may be completed by locating the spirits that are requesting assistance around the map. Players can also try to free roam the city to grind for improvements by completing side tasks. Upgrades are provided in the form of skill points and money to purchase consumables. Each upgrade also improves metrics, such as boosting health, and all of this is dependent on the experience points earned by accomplishing these activities.
The primary fault of Ghostwire Tokyo is its combat. The game may be defined as a mash-up of martial arts and spiritual magic, with distinctive hand movements. All of this sounds fascinating on paper, but the implementation isn’t. Each unique attack uses a set quantity of ammo found in ether floating around the world, which serves as ammunition for your strikes. When this is depleted, the combat shifts to a defensive mode in which each attack may be blocked or parried, which can also offer some ether depending on the right upgrades. This is when the frustration sets in since it is difficult to keep track of the enemy while looking for ether.
Because elemental attacks take much too long to kill an enemy, the majority of the strategy is either to stealth kill enemies, which entails rapidly tearing out their cores, or to use the most powerful elemental strikes to quickly dispatch a bunch of enemies. Because each of the elemental attacks is sluggish to utilize at first, the opening few hours aren’t very enjoyable to play. It is simpler to run out of ammo at first because the enemy is typically faster to attack. Parrying is useful in this situation, but once further upgrades are unlocked, the combat starts to flow naturally. However, it never takes the form of a game that is enjoyable to play.
The more I played the combat, the more obvious its shortcomings became. We may not have many elemental skills at first since they are locked, but as the powerful ones become accessible, it just makes no sense to switch to something inferior. However, the more potent an elemental attack is, the more uncommon its ammo is, which means we must have the lesser elemental skills on hand. The flaws of the combat are clearly seen when encountering a group of enemies as dealing with them at a time is tedious, and while extracting cores is optional, the animation takes a long time until skill points are spent on upgrading it.
Ghostwire Tokyo captures the feeling of touring a modern-day Shibuya. However, because the streets are desolate, the exploration might be tedious. There is a dearth of variety in the enemies, and while I thought the boss fights to be quite entertaining to play, they were hampered by the stiff gameplay. To give Tango Gameworks credit, the monster design is fantastic, with apparent inspiration drawn from vintage Japanese horror films. If you grew up watching these movies, there are a plethora of hidden references not just in the design of the creatures, but also in some of the game’s side missions.
Ghostwire Tokyo’s attention to detail is simply great. Each sector of the city is meticulously sculpted, with particular Yokai from Japanese myths in charge of certain areas. The exploring isn’t restricted to the streets; players may grapple and jump to a rooftop as well. These rooftops might conceal other valuables or offer new shortcuts. However, how the world map is gradually opened is reminiscent of Ubisoft’s Far Cry, which is to say it is not good. I understand why the devs chose this restriction, but I would have rather the entire city be available from the start.
Ghostwire Tokyo’s characters aren’t fascinating enough for us to care about them, but I did appreciate the banter between KK and Akito as he struggles to regain control of his own body. There is also a strong emphasis on family values, which is not unexpected given how important they are in Japanese society. The backstory offered with flashbacks provide us more insight into the motivations of these individuals, but the game’s side characters don’t stand out or receive enough screen time to make us care about them.
While Ghostwire Tokyo does not provide faultless combat or a solid progression loop, it does demonstrate the promise of a game with strong Japanese roots. As a PS5 exclusive, the inclusion of DualSense and Haptic Feedback improves the game’s immersive value. The game’s 3D audio intensifies some of the scarier elements, but it’s mostly an action-adventure rather than a survival horror like The Evil Within.
Ghostwire Tokyo Game Information
- Price: $59.99
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Developer: Tango Gameworks
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher