A thrilling tour through a paranormal Shibuya
As I wandered the incredibly quiet streets of Shibuya, one particular movement caught the corner of my eye.
A cardboard standee sported a tail, and when I took a closer look, a Tanuki wearing the cutest little construction hat popped out.
GhostWire: Tokyo feels like a guided tour of Tokyo, highlighted by loads of paranormal creatures you need to blast with elemental energy along the way. It’s a gorgeous recreation of a fascinating city, and an air of unease pervades the world, proving that Tango Gameworks is putting its horror expertise to good use. But even though the first two chapters of GhostWire: Tokyo I have a lot of great ideas that generally fit together well, I’m afraid the formula will wear out a bit in the long run.
GhostWire: Tokyo immediately throws you into the fire – your character Akito suffers a horrific accident and lies dead in the middle of Shibuya Crossing. A mysterious spirit passing by KK possesses Akito’s body, and without further ado, you’re thrust into the middle of a paranormal Tokyo, where everyone has disappeared.
The aesthetics and tone of GhostWire are absolutely top notch, the street littered with the clothes of the thousands of citizens who suddenly disappeared. While it’s not exactly a horror game, it certainly has a “scary” air to it. The streets of Tokyo are done in a stunning way, and although many of them are not interactive, it is fascinating to look at the various shops, restaurants and monuments of the city.
As part of the research for the game, the development team took long walks around Tokyo, taking pictures of things that caught their eye.
“We were able to rediscover what we normally see as part of our daily commute, started noticing the smaller, cooler things that might look a little different to other perspectives,” said director Kenji Kimura. Reverse.
This particular attention to detail shines through. Many games take place in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, such as personas 5 and the Yakuza series. Corn GhostWire feels different – its streets feel more realistic and lived in, despite being abandoned. As you walk around, you might see snacks and drinks open on a bench, their owners in the middle of a conversation when the mass disappearance happened, or a convenience store now run by a ghostly cat yokai. The city itself is easily the star of the game, and the developers at Tango Gameworks have worked diligently to capture its unique qualities.
“You would walk around a block of office buildings and turn a corner and then immediately walk into a sanctuary without knowing it. That feeling, you know, when you walk into a shrine, just turning the corner, even the air tastes different, you feel like you’re warped into a completely different area,” says producer Masato Kimura.
Of course, as attractive as the city is, it is nothing without interesting activities. Until there, GhostWire also seems to be succeeding on this front. The main story missions cover an engaging variety of locations and objectives, but the surprisingly rich side missions are one of the biggest surprises, and each one feels meaningful and unique in some way. Often these quests will allow you to help lost spirits and unique creatures. One had me dipping into a haunted bathhouse, while another set up a long quest with a Tanuki boss (who talks like a gangster) having me hunt down his subordinates. These side quests flesh out the experience, and I often found myself enjoying the standalone stories or moral messages they focused on, and many of the side quests are based on Japanese folklore.
While I’m already invested in GhostWireAbout the world and the story, I’m less sure how I feel about the combat, which is somewhere between an action game and a shooter. You use an ability called “Ethereal Weaving” to fire elemental projectiles at enemies. You have a gun-like wind ability, a sharp water ability, and an explosive fire ability. On top of that, you’ll also get gear like a bow and arrow and some awesome talismans to use.
There’s a flow of combat, as you alternate between dodging, blocking, and launching attacks. All of your weave attacks have limited uses, and you’ll need to pick up charges by defeating enemies or smashing shiny objects in the environment. The first two chapters do a fantastic job of regularly introducing new spirits to face, and the real challenge is challenging multiple types of spirits at once, from headless speedy schoolboys to absolutely terrifying scissor-wielding Kuchisake spirits. The combat is incredibly responsive and I’m excited to see how it expands throughout the game.
There’s also an intriguing visual flair to contend with, especially in the fluidity of the hand movements Akito uses. For reference, the development team looked at things like traditional ceremonies, Ninjutsu performances, and a type of spell casting known as Onmyōdō.
“We wanted the player to feel like he was a master at doing these things,” says Masato Kimura. “We want it to feel authentic and real, but still powerful. Because you gather those powers and unleash them on your enemies.
GhostWire: Tokyo brings together disparate elements that can often come into conflict. Some players will enjoy this more than others, but it’s an idea that drives the game’s overall design. KK and Akito are very different people, and the conflict between them is a huge driving force in the game. story and gameplay.
“The biggest influences we receive as we walk through life are the new people we meet who are so different from ourselves. “Through the clash of personalities, once you get over that, you start to see from the other person’s point of view and get some of the experience that the other person has,” says Masato. Kimura: “That conflict is kind of similar to how games are developed too. People come together with different ideas, and we kind of start to grow and solidify together.
GhostWire The ethereal version of Tokyo is a joy to explore, and its main story has a nice plot that drives it. However, we’ll have to wait until March 25 to see if the luster fades beyond those opening hours.