Check out what we thought of the mysterious new IP from Tango Gameworks, Ghostwire: Tokyo, in our review.
While we’ve seen a decent amount of Ghostwire: Tokyo from previews, trailers, and more, little is known about the IP. Developed by Tango Gameworks, who are well-known for their Evil Within series, Ghostwire: Tokyo takes a different direction entirely. From the gory blood-soaked hallways and nightmares of The Evil Within to the neon-lit Tokyo in Ghostwire, but you know what they say about old habits?
Now that I’ve played Ghostwire: Tokyo for numerous hours, I can safely admit that I understand a bit more about the world and the ideas behind Ghostwire. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the latest game to land on PlayStation, in our Ghostwire: Tokyo review.
- Game: Ghostwire: Tokyo
- Price: $59.99 (Standard)
- Platforms: PlayStation 5, PC
- Disclaimer: A Review Code Was Provided – Find Our Review Policy Here.
Ghostwire: Tokyo Full Review
Spooky AND Enticing
While Ghostwire: Tokyo may differ from Tango Gameworks’ Evil Within series, some elements are brought over. Gory monsters are exchanged for creepier and subtle folklore-inspired creatures. Guns and explosives are turned into flashy hand gestures and sparkly combat. And while it’s clear that the focus is more on the mystery and action of Ghostwire: Tokyo, make no mistake. Horror is just as much of an influence as before but more subtle.
You play as Akito, who dies in a car crash just before the game’s opening. He’s then possessed by a spirit called KK, who saves him from the vanishing of all civilians in the local area. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones in Tokyo, as the innocent people are replaced by angry and nightmarish spirits who, in all honesty, aren’t very kind to you. Akito’s journey sees him team up with KK to take on a man in a Hannya mask to solve the mystery and return the people of Tokyo.
Ghostwire: Tokyo’s story is a lot deeper than I expected. At its surface level, it’s simply a Spirit-possessed young adult trying to figure out the mystery behind the strange disappearance of Tokyo’s population. However, it also brings on a story of life and death and the in-between. Without spoiling, Ghostwire: Tokyo’s world and narrative tell an interesting story that captures the human spirit and what it means to be alive.
Spells Meet Karate
Akito is given mystical powers thanks to his possession from KK. Etheral Weaving, while flashy and fancy, works similar to any ranged attacks in most games. Wind Weaving is your simple shot, fast and steady but with less damage output. Your Water Weaving is the equivalent of shotgun shells, enabling you to control crowds of vengeful spirits. Finally, your final Etheral attack is fire, which is a mix of long-ranged Sniper-like shots or, when charged, a grenade launcher. Akito does get his hands on some other equipment, but these are the main three forms of defending yourself.
While combat doesn’t necessarily change from the start to the end of the game, Etheral Weaving is a great substitute for simple guns. The hand gesturing as you fire away, or switch from one element to another, is always exciting to see and keeps it fresh. No longer is it a simple over-the-shoulder switch, but an active part of the experience.
Akito also earns a magical Bow, as well as Talismans which offer varying effects. Talismans are the equivalent of grenades, with one stunning enemies, one creating a sound when landing, another creating a bush to hide in and behind, and the last one exposing enemy cores – their life source and weakness. The only issue is that Talismans are hard to come by and quite expensive at shops, which meant I hardly used them in my runtime.
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It’s unfortunate that Akito gains access to these abilities fairly soon and before even four hours into the game, has access to most of his weaponry. While a skill tree can upgrade your spells, it’s no substitute for gaining new ones which are more powerful towards the latter half of the experience. Having extra elements to unlock, or even being able to mix elements would’ve spiced up the combat even more.
Horror-Inspired, But Not Horrifying
Thankfully, there are plenty of enemies to fight throughout Tokyo. Known as Visitors, these creatures can be tough to face, especially in groups. There are Slender Man-like creatures with umbrellas that walk towards you menacingly, headless schoolkids who are fast and furious, or Lady Dimitrescu-like women with large scissors (and in all honesty, her introduction is obviously inspired by Lady Dimitrescu.)
The Horror is no longer the focus, and it’s clear. But the Horror suspense, atmosphere, and tension are there. There’s a demon parade that can be encountered randomly throughout Tokyo, which upon meeting with causes you to enter their distorted realm to fight them off. Watching this fog of spirits walk the emptied streets was exciting, yet terrifying. Ghostwire: Tokyo mainly leans into the Action genre over Horror, but those elements are always fun to experience.
It’s in combat where a mix of Horror and Action combine. Akito’s magic is restored (basically, reloaded) when eliminating spirits or by hitting Ether-infused objects, which float around Tokyo and in enemy-infested areas. But sometimes, you’ll find yourself with no magic left and a bunch of spirits to deal with. You end up leaning on managing your resources, thinking “I’ll save my Fire spells for when a harder spirit comes along” before you end up freaking out and spamming whatever you have left.
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The tension from Ghostwire: Tokyo, I believe, makes it unique compared to even pure Horror games. Blending this bright combat with a distinguishable tension and suspenseful atmosphere makes it more unexpected than popping on a Horror game and expecting to be scared. There are palpable moments of fear where I had freaked out, which is surprising considering I pride myself on being pretty fearless in Horror games.
Always In High Spirits
The Open-World of Ghostwire: Tokyo is, unfortunately, filled with map clutter. Thankfully, Tango Gameworks has done enough to balance out the unnecessary, allowing players to see collectibles on the map fairly easily and offering a way to turn off icons in the map menu, but some of these mechanics are completely needless. The Omikuji is a fortune system, which when used in the world, grants a random buff or debuff. But the Omikuji offers hardly any value and is simply a “wow, that’s neat” moment before forgetting it even existed.
There are also two types of Spirits you’ll encounter. Those who are dead, and usually offer a side mission and those who were affected by the mystery behind the game’s main plot. The latter of the two you’re able to save by absorbing them into Katashiro, paper doll-like humans which can be used to transfer the spirits into in-game currency and a hefty amount of XP. But there are over 200,000 spirits to find in Tokyo, and they usually come in clumps of 100-500.
Luckily, the side missions are very interesting. Compared to the apocalyptic-type themes of the plot, side missions are more simple and give you a taste of Japanese folklore and myths. Most of the time, you’ll encounter corrupted souls which bring pain into the afterlife, and you’re tasked with purging them like an exorcist. But figuring out why they’re corrupted and what’s happening to these spirits gives players a taste of the spiritual nature of Ghostwire’s Tokyo.
Ghostwire’s visuals are also some of the most stunning I’ve seen in a video game. The dark and fog-covered streets, mixed with some beautiful raytracing and lighting effects are stunning. Feeling the rain’s feedback on the DualSense, only subtly, creates some awe-inspiring moments between spirit exorcising and jaw-dropping story beats.
Another Night in Tokyo
When it comes down to it, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a strange game. I imagine some people will love this game and be intrigued by the mystical nature, the life and death-themed plot, and the cohesive blend of magic and horror. And some will likely be disappointed for one reason or another. I firmly believe that Ghostwire: Tokyo was worth every moment of my time.
It may fall flat in terms of its open-world, and it can feel more drawn out than expected. However, every element of Ghostwire seems to land and mix better than expected. Whether it’s the visually-appealing combat, the Horror-like tension, or the fantastic city of Tokyo and its design, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a truly Spirit-busting good time and one that will uniquely remain with me for years to come.