Ghostwire: Tokyo, the new action-adventure game from Tango Gameworks with immersive simulation-like elements, is a frustrating juxtaposition of highs and lows. It’s both a compelling tale of loss and the effort we make to recover what’s gone, and a laborious first-person shooter with some very underwhelming enemy AI. Its world is richly detailed and captivating, with some good side quests to discover; poignant and impactful stories featuring people who have waited God knows how long to be reunited with their loved ones. But it’s all weighed down by uninspired combat that sees you running around and shooting like it’s Call of Duty. I’m disgusted because I was so happy for thattoo.
A thick and mysterious fog has just rolled through the streets of Shibuya, leaving nothing behind for those who have touched it except their personal belongings. Think clothes, handbags, phones, etc. Ghostwire: Tokyo puts you in the shoes of Akito, a young adult who survived this bizarre cataclysmic event dubbed “mass disappearance”. However, much like Yuji Itadori in MAPPA’s excellent manga and anime Jujutsu Kaisen, Akito has a strange affliction – a spirit passenger riding a shotgun in his body for his own selfish reasons, and somehow this passenger, a detective named KK, makes Akito immune to the fog. With KK now living rent-free in his body, Akito has access to a whole new set of skills, including the ability to see spirits and the power to fire elemental blasts from his fingertips. He’d be kind of fun at parties, if only there were still parties to go to. The two then set out to find out what caused the mass disappearance incident and figure out how Akito can save his sister, Mari, who is suffering from a mysterious spell and has been captured by the villain for his own nefarious purposes.
The story has heavy implications. It is an introspective meditation on grief and what someone will do to find loved ones and friends in death or, if possible, bring them back before they die. There are a myriad of side quests that underscore the themes of the game. For example, in the third chapter, you encounter a spirit who is waiting for her boyfriend’s spirit to leave work, only he can’t because he is dead. At work. And he’s cursed to stay at this shitty job, but she’s still waiting for him. Lifting the curse – purging a specter emitting negative energy by weaving hand signs – reunites the two loving spirits, and their souls dissipate in comforting bliss. It was a moving moment that left me with tears in my eyes. But getting to this quest – and others like it – is a hassle because the game’s combat is so weak.
Ghostwire: TokyoBattles are tedious work. Not because they’re hard to understand or hard to master, but because combat is just plain boring. Enemies are dumb, charging you head-on or walking slowly in circles around you. Known as the Visitors, gruesome apparitions that look like humans without the physical body, these sponges barely fight. Even when they outnumber you, they will often attack one at a time instead of coordinating to force you to change tactics.
There are a small number of spells available to you, but other than a slow fire grenade, nothing is quite as effective as the starting wind spell which works like a pistol. What you do most of the time in combat is dash away – there are no evasive moves such as dodging or sidestepping – and fire wind bullets. Rinse and repeat that for six chapters, with the occasional boss fight thrown in, it’s the same but longer, and Ghostwire: Tokyo turns out to be a repetitive first-person shooter. And unfortunately, rather than being a relatively minor element in a game that emphasizes exploration and discovery, combat is one of the ghost yarnthe central pillars.
It’s a disappointment too, because Ghostwire: TokyoThe world of is truly fascinating. Though devoid of real life, the rain-drenched alleys and neon-lit streets of Shibuya seem inhabited. There is food left in microwaves and refrigerators. The apartments have clothes strewn over the beds. Cats and dogs, somehow spared from the great disappearance, hang around town. There’s history here, and not just because everyone suddenly disappeared. You’ll get to know the people who inhabited this world by picking up interactive items like computers and purses, all of which reveal the inner workings of their lives just before they all evaporate. It’s heartbreaking, relatable and funny. Tango Gameworks bakes in some truly intriguing storytelling and world-building that’s marred by tasteless combat.
I appreciate that Ghostwire: Tokyo try doing something a little different. His minimalist approach to combat could have been refreshing in an industry so determined to stuff games with more of all. It’s the rare open world that, despite having an icon-strewn map, isn’t as blatant as many of its contemporaries. It respects your time, doesn’t complicate its mechanics too much, and can be finished in about twenty hours, making it arguably the antithesis of modern AAA design. But as simple as the game’s combat system is, it’s just not fun or interesting to participate in. shooter mechanics.
To be honest, it’s the real disappointment. All the promotional material, from screenshots to trailers, made me think Ghostwire: Tokyo was a supernatural adventure thriller about freeing apparitions and hunting down ghosts. Felt like there was no or very little combat and most of the game would have been spent piecing together a mystery like a detective mind of Yu Yu Hakusho. Part of that is true. These moments, following clues to discover the location of a curse and lifting it, are some of the most exciting parts of the game. Ghostwire: Tokyo capable one of the coolest healing mechanics in games at present. It’s just a shame that such a compelling world is overshadowed by such bland combat.