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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Very unique theme and setting
  • Great DualSense function inclusions
  • 6 different graphics modes to choose between
  • Super-fast loading

Might Not Like

  • 240,300 spirits to collect
  • Being able to pet and feed dogs but only pet cats
  • Yokai interactions are very limited

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Ghostwire Tokyo Review

Ghostwire Tokyo

Ghostwire Tokyo first came to light during the Bethesda showcase at E3 2019. It was an unusual reveal, to say the least. When everyone was expecting the reveal of a new Final Fantasy title or news on Starfield, we got this. A strange neo-coloured, spirit infested version of an apocalyptic Shibuya. And snippets of footage depicting Slenderman inspired enemies under umbrellas. Nobody knew what to think of it. Including me.

The forced induction of the rapture has left visitors from other planes infesting the world. They are working for the masked mastermind of the show and capturing the released souls of the city’s people. Since the people have disappeared, there has also been the emergence of Yokai and Oni that will aid you in your adventure. But how does the game play?

Ghosts in the Machine

All villains are the heroes of their own story. Ghostwire Tokyo follows suit with this mainstay trope as the villains try to bring ‘salvation’ to the populace. To bring salvation, however, they have enacted a mysterious rapture-esque apocalypse and abducted your sister to be a vessel. For what end, who knows? (I know). There is nobody else around but the spirit inhabiting your body. The only remnants of the rest of the populace are their left-behind clothing and wandering pets.

Initial reception to the reveal was a mixed bag of responses. And it seems, after release, that reviews have followed in the same fashion. I can understand this. The game feels fresh and new from a visual and lore perspective. But the mechanics and story feel a little dated. Does this make it a bad game? No. Not in the least. The visuals and interesting lore are what will keep you invested in exploring the game.

Out of Body Experience

I am sure you have seen screenshots for the game. Both here and elsewhere. It is hard to pinpoint what the game really plays like from simple images alone. And it is my job to try and explain such an experience in words descriptive enough to enlighten you. And that is a tough job for Ghostwire Tokyo. The game weaves an intricate web of different gaming styles. It seems to pick up small snippets of inspiration from all kinds of games.

Some of these inspirations shouldn’t work in conjunction on paper, but they do. For example, the game uses the trope of ‘do something at specific places to reveal stuff on the map.’ You know the one. I don’t even need to mention examples. In this game, it is in the form of cleansing shrines. But it works within the narrative of the story. There are also moments in the game’s story progression that will have the world around you twist and deform. These make for some of the most interesting areas of the game. They remind me very much so of sequences in the older Silent Hill games. God I miss Silent Hill. These reminiscent moments also come with the presence of Yokai which remind you of Nioh. As mentioned already, the apocalyptic element comes in the form of a forced Rapture. This of course gives off major 'Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture' vibes. The team behind this game really do seem to have taken inspiration from all kinds of places. And it all comes together in a very memorable game. Either that, or it is evident that I have played too many games in my time.

The gameplay itself comes down to 2 separate parts. Smushing the Slender Man inspired enemies and - love it or hate it - collecting stuff.

Spiritual Beatings

Most of the visitors (enemies) come prepared for heavy rain, donning umbrellas in various states of decay. This of course means barely anything to you, but I thought it was an interesting enemy design. It is mentioned in the in-game bestiary (gosh I love when games give you a bestiary) that the visitors have always existed. That these spirits take on forms reflecting the humans around them. This is why, in actual Japanese folklore, they are represented as deformed samurai. But here, in modern times, they are businesspeople. It is for this reason that I love bestiaries. Little bits of lore give the enemies much more personality. Each of the enemies has its own entries.

The combat itself starts off rather restrictive. In true RPG fashion, you will start gaining new powers during the development of the story. The tricks up your sleeve mainly come down to mystic arts, slinging different elemental attacks at enemies. The three different elements at your disposal act differently from each other which is a nice touch. They essentially function as different guns from a first-person perspective. A handgun, shotgun and grenade launcher reskinned as wind, water, and fire. What is not to love? You will also pick up talismans and a bow and arrow shortly into the game. This is the extent of your options. It is, however, refreshing to play a game that doesn’t throw hundreds of weapons and spells at you.

The strongest option you have is stealth. Successfully creeping up on an enemy will allow you to exorcise them. For all of the different standard enemies, this will one-shot them. Downing them in this manner is oddly satisfying as they scream out in faceless terror. Talismans will also offer up your approaches. Most of them are typical powers that you will expect. But the best one will spawn bushes where you plant them in order to craft your own sneaky pathway to hide in.

The enemy AI could be a little more dynamic, but you will mainly be facing them in groups anyway. One thing for sure though is how aesthetically pleasing the game is, even during combat. I love the way that each of the mythic powers has different hand animations. The way that enemies’ whispers and screams come through the PS5s controller. I love the intricate hand motions as you manipulate the mystical wire to pull enemies’ cores out of them. There are many tiny details that help this game sing.

Who Ya Gonna Call…

The other side of the game is pretty much what you would expect. You know, the ticking every box and finding all the collectibles side. Ghostwire Tokyo falls prey to the trappings that have felled many a title. The game is littered with spirits, the game’s main collectible. It does make sense within the story of the game. Everyone has been raptured, and so their spirits are floating around in clumps. These spirit clusters are what the enemies patrolling the streets are trying to collect. But doing a pretty bad job of it. They are floating literally everywhere and the enemies instead are looking in empty cars or walking straight past them. Just so you are aware, there are 240,300 spirits to collect. Each clump usually bags you about 100. They are everywhere!

Other collectibles come in the form of magatamas, music, and outfits. But again, each of these has its own trivial things that niggle me. Magatamas you need to unlock ability upgrade paths. You get them from helping Kodama and Oni or capturing different Yokai. All of these come down to ‘follow this thing for 5 seconds and then press L2’, or ‘defeat this wave of enemies.’ With the refreshing and interesting theme of Yokai and spirits in modern Tokyo, I was hoping for the side content to be a little more immersive. Spending your Meika (money) to buy in-game music and outfits seems backwards to me. In-game music should just be present in the game from the start. And the game is in the first person. That should say everything about the need for different outfits. If you are a trophy hunter, you will need to collect all the spirits and other collectibles to pop some trophies.

The most interesting collectible is the unique things you will find around the city. They are artefacts that you will find around the world that all relate to Japanese culture. They have their own entries in the in-game glossary/bestiary and add to the experience as a whole. You need to find these to give to the Nekomata. Nekomata. You know, the floating, mystical cat merchants of the city.

My favourite collectible almost makes the rest worthwhile. Almost. The Tanuki are little racoon type Yokai that are hiding around the city. They can take the form of whatever they like and can only be distinguished from their little tails flapping around. They can be vending machines, shop signs, furniture, etc. There are only 25 hidden around the world and they are fun to seek out. These are what all the collectibles should be like.

Redrum Redrum Redrum

So, the team behind Ghostwire Tokyo is the same team behind The Evil Within games. The Evil within games had their flaws but were ultimately really memorable for multiple reasons. They had a really unique setting and some striking enemy designs. Ghostwire Tokyo follows in the same fashion. I think too many games tend to restrict themselves to stereotypical themes and settings. Tango Gameworks do a fantastic job at staying clear of falling into the same hole as other developers. Even if they have sadly fallen into other trappings with the collectible mechanics. But, to their benefit, this is the first game that they have developed with a single open map to explore.

The main story itself is refreshingly contained. If you are not side-tracked by all the collectible hunting, then you can smash through the story in a handful of sittings. In modern gaming, stories are often stretched out and prolonged longer than needed. Ghostwire Tokyo is just as long as it needs to be to tell its story. The story itself is a little predictable but being told through the setting of something unique keeps it an interesting endeavour.

There are a few things in the game that could be tweaked a little of course. But, as a whole, the game works really well and hopefully lays the foundations for more games of similar ilk in the future.

DualSense Sensation

Finally, I get to include a section in a review all about the use of the PS5’s controller features. Of course, when this is released for other systems in 2023 then this section may not apply to you. Tango Gameworks has done a fantastic job at implementing different DualSense functions into the game.As mentioned earlier, there are 3 different elemental attacks. Each of these feels different to utilise. Haptic feedback is present even when walking down empty streets and exploring the city. The in-built speaker is well utilised. The spirit that inhabits your body will guide you through the game, and when he speaks it comes out of the controller. This is also thematic as he speaks to the main character through a rift in his hand. When you upgrade your abilities, the haptic feedback for them also gets stronger. The adaptive triggers kick in during certain actions etc. It was great to play a game that really tries to encompass the controllers’ capabilities.

Credit Roll

I think it is clear that I enjoyed playing Ghostwire Tokyo. And if it wasn’t clear: I enjoyed playing Ghostwire Tokyo. It isn’t a flawless game but, usually, the most memorable games aren’t. It is definitely an interesting game to play through. There are plenty of intricate minute details that will make you smile. The game is rated a PEGI 12 and I think that is just right. I imagine younger gamers may get the most out of this game.

One thing that I think is worth keeping in mind is Tango Gameworks itself. Ghostwire Tokyo is currently a PS5 exclusive but was published by Bethesda, which is now owned by Microsoft. This leaves this game in a weird position where if there are any sequels or spiritual successors, then they will not be available to anyone at all that has access to the game now.

I think this game is still definitely worth your time. My advice will definitely be to try and not get OCD with collecting all the spirits though. It is an interesting game that is worth more attention than it seems to be receiving at the moment. Check it out!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Very unique theme and setting
  • Great DualSense function inclusions
  • 6 different graphics modes to choose between
  • Super-fast loading

Might not like

  • 240,300 spirits to collect
  • Being able to pet and feed dogs but only pet cats
  • Yokai interactions are very limited

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