It’s been quite a while since we last spoke. Obviously, it’s my fault as I’ve been trying my best to find a balance between gaming, writing about gaming and doing things outside of gaming. It’s been pretty tough, and I can’t guarantee that I won’t take a breather again. So, for now, this is a hello and possibly see you later. I do really appreciate the peeps who’ve stopped by to show some love to my previous work. I get all the notifications, and it reminds me I should be more active here!
As always, I’m going to try my best to pop in more often as this is sort of my getaway spot from the professional writing I’ve been deep diving in.
Enough about me!… Well, I guess not really enough about me. I think I’ve found some type of balance in the Force as I have finally beat a video game. If you couldn’t tell by the post’s cover image, today is about Ghostwire: Tokyo.
Now, I originally had this typed up as a review, but my last review was for Cyberpunk 2077 months ago so I probably lost my reviewing skills not to mention you’ve probably already seen every single review on this game. I figured this would be a more laid back post of my thoughts on the game. Ghostwire: Tokyo was one of the hottest games on my radar for this year, and when it came out, I heard some mixed things. I did the gamer thing, picked it up on sale, and now I stand before you to share my experience.
Let’s get supernatural.
What’s it about?
Ghostwire: Tokyo is from the minds of Tango Gameworks, the folks who brought you The Evil Within series (shameless plug to my review of the second game). It was announced back in 2019 and is currently a one year timed exclusive for PlayStation and Windows meaning my playthrough was done completely on my PS5. I’m not a complex PC gamer yet.
You play as Akito, who awakes to Tokyo in a pickle after a traffic collision renders him unconscious. Everything is not as it seems though as Akito soon realizes that everybody in Tokyo mysteriously vanished, a spirit named KK made a home in Akito’s body and an evil creepy looking dude wearing a Hannya mask is openly taunting your heroes.
I don’t want to go too much into detail, partially because I forgot most of the story due to my lack of consistent play time, but there’s a lot more that unfolds over the course of your playthrough. Now, there is a standalone prequel story called Ghostwire: Tokyo – Prelude that expands on the events that lead up to the game. I didn’t play it, and the verdict is out as to whether it was good or not. Ultimately, it’s free, and it’s your choice should you want to learn more about the story. Just know my point of view is without this expansion giving me additional information.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is one of those weird games where I feel like it looks good but not because of the setting. It looks visually good when you’re immersed in the gameplay.
The game is entirely first-person which I think was a marvelous design choice. When you’re exploring Tokyo and interacting with objects such as prayer boxes, that first-person POV is incredibly well done as you watch Akito put his hands together to pray. While in combat, watching Akito swing his hands furiously to cast spells in order to defeat supernatural foes is a marvel especially with how visually cool they look. The supernatural Slendermen, beside looking dapper as heck, are somewhat frightening as they slowly meander in the rain carrying umbrellas and weapons to cut you down.
I know it sounds silly, but first-person was the right person for this game.
Aside from that, that’s about it in the visuals department.
I played on the PS5 version of the game on the highest setting (I totally forgot which setting I chose so I apologize for the crap statement), and aside from a few moments exploring the city, I didn’t think the game looked overly incredible. A lot of the neon light sections of Tokyo are really well done but, maybe it’s just me, when you stare at the game it seems to have some grainy aspect to it. It was so weird.
I think you notice the lack of visual quality the most when it starts raining.
The rain isn’t your standard rain, it’s a flood of a kanji coming down your screen. It’s such a cool idea, but it created this weird contrast where the outside world is dark and dreary yet the rain is really bright (just my experience). Cutscenes look good but not mind-blowing by any means.
This is probably coming off as overly negative, I’m sorry I’m trying not to be! I just don’t think it was super hot when the setting is so unique.
Next topic, gameplay.
Ghostplay (Get it?)
Gameplay in Ghostwire: Tokyo is probably what drew me in the most.
KK, Akito’s new spiritual partner, possesses unique abilities that he shares with his host. Akito gains access to three different elemental abilities that he can cast with his hands (wind, fire and water) like a sort of supernatural Avatar. These abilities come with ammo counts so you can’t just fire them off without thinking and, along with those abilities, Akito has access to a spirit bow and some talisman powers that can be used to soften up foes. He can also block which helps a bit since foes deal massive damage to an unblocked Akito. Weaken up your foes, and you can rip out their cores to banish them gaining some ammo and health in return. The animation is absurdly cool and the PS5 controller goes wild when you take a core.
Outside of combat, you’ll find yourself in a moderately large version of Tokyo ripe for exploring. Travel through the different districts to find spirits that need saving, Jizo statues that offer upgrades to his spell casting and plenty of animals to pet.
Yes you can pet the dog and cats. You can also feed them, and they’ll find money for you that you can then spend on food (for health), combat items and cosmetics.
As you explore Tokyo and complete tasks, you’ll gain experience points that grant skill points to level up Akito’s casting and other abilities. While a lot of it seems cool, it becomes very clear that this is heavily inspired by Ubisoft’s open-world formula. Torii Gates need to be cleansed that will then allow you to safely travel through the streets of Tokyo and clear up the gray areas of the mini map a la “Far Cry towers”, there are over 200,000 spirits you can save should you choose to invest the time… it’s kind of brutal how trend chasing the game tries to be.
I will say, there are 6 chapters in this game. It becomes clear around the end of chapter two the gameplay loop will be the same for your remaining run. Combat does not change whatsoever and becomes a bit repetitive (although I really enjoyed it), the side quests boil down to “go here, go there”, the tower clearing BS is forcefully thrown at you in the later segments; it’s interesting that they chose this gameplay route.
A sequel would do wonders
I was going to go over the story, but I really don’t remember much of it, again to my own fault. What I do remember is, in my opinion, the final chapters of the game stood out the most. I felt like you get the most story in the final sequences which is a huge bummer.
It sounds really cliche, but in all honesty, I think if Tango Gameworks gave this game a sequel, I think they would knock it out of the park.
Outside of the base experience, I think this game was really cool. It follows the typical Western tropes you see in anime most particularly shows like Bleach. When I played, I literally felt like Bleach protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki as I went through helping the lost souls and banishing the evil ones. I think the game defaults its language to “sub” aka where the dialogue is entirely in Japanese with English subtitles which I thought was really neat except when I forgot to read. Exploring Tokyo was cool yet the collection fest of side quests and spirits kind of subtracted from the overall experience.
The biggest problem to me with this title, aside from the fact that it felt like it was chasing the Ubisoft trend was the lack of horror. Tango Gameworks made The Evil Within series, and I think coming in, I expected this game to follow a similar vibe of horror infused environment. It does hit the expected mark sometimes, but then other times, it just abandons it. The best way I can describe it is there are sections where you and KK are separated. Removing KK from Akito removes most of KK’s powers, and it forces you to focus on stealth since you can’t just shoot your way out of trouble. It doesn’t sound fun, but the atmospheric shift when you lose him is pretty good.
The Evil Within 2 made the switch to an open-world setting yet it managed to retain the core element of horror. Ghostwire: Tokyo has moments where it can bring the horror or really creepy vibe, but it’s in linear segments or when KK is removed.
Finding a balance between horror and action is hard, and I think this game would’ve benefited more if there was a healthier balance between Doctor Strange laser beams and horror or if they went full survival-horror based. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I hope it does.
This game is unique as it really tries its best to merge Western and Eastern game trends. There’s times where it really shines, and then other times where it falls flat or is a little less than stellar. Again, pretty cliche, but I have confidence that if given another shot, Tango would make the supernatural a little more supernatural. For now, if you’re interested in this, I’d say pick it up on sale or wait until it eventually comes to GamePass (which I imagine would happen since Microsoft owns Bethesda) once the exclusivity window ends.
Hopefully, all that I’m saying makes sense. I started writing this at 2 AM, and I started dozing off then immediately waking up to continue slamming my keyboard. Ghostwire: Tokyo has the foundation for something incredible if Tango decides to give this another go. A lot of said foundation has to be refined immensely with the combat being enjoyable yet getting stale towards the end, the Ubisoft inspired gameplay making me want to cry and a stronger focus on the story. There’s good here, it’s just a bit tainted by the real world..
See what I did there?