Ghostwire: Tokyo is one that stands out on its own, stepping into elements of Japanese culture, lore, and settings that we’ve never seen before. However, does the departure from horror to action-adventure work for Ghostwire: Tokyo? Let’s find out.
+Absolutely beautiful graphics that deliver a truly next-gen experience
+A massive open well-designed world that is both riveting and unique
+Plenty of unlockables to find and side-missions to enjoy
+An amazingly immersive voice casting brings the game to life
-Combat is fluid, but at the same time, but does become rather repetitious over time
-Performance hiccups do appear from time-to-time
-Controls sometimes become unresponsive when trying to release souls from their traps
I’m not sure how long I’d been listening to the rain fall while tengu overhead alerting me to their whereabouts. I’ve been quietly trekking and gliding across the lower half of the rooftops in my area, freeing the unfortunate souls that had been lost to the mist and my mysterious enemies’ escapades.
I’ve come accustomed to using the elements of wind, fire, and water to take out my enemies in various ways. Some require the unique use of all of them in order to break their defenses, but also, to help take out their friends that decide to join in on the fight. That has been my unique experience through the strange lands that now stand before me and have been for the past twenty-five hours.
Completing investigations, finding the mysterious KK’s notes, and even trying to find his friends have been much of my experience when we aren’t tracking down the mysterious figure only known as “Hannya”. I’ve become accustomed to listening to the Japanese dub of the game.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is a unique experience steeped in Japanese lore, culture, and plenty more
Your first moments in Ghostwire: Tokyo will be as expected as its opening moments introduce you to Tokyo and its once bustling streets. Within minutes, you’ll find that has changed, humanity is all but gone, and you are one of the very few left to help defend it from those whom wish to unleash their evil-doings on the world.
For Akito (voiced in Japanese by Kensuke Nishi), this world is still worth saving, even as everything he once knew had been taken away in one fell swoop. Joined by the mysterious spirit, KK (voiced in Japanese by Kazuhiko Inoue), the two must seek out the lost souls that once called Tokyo their home, free them, and stop the mysterious Hannya (voiced in Japanese by Shunsuke Sakuya) and his forces. This is where our game begins, giving us a chance to truly see it as it unravels before us. The game itself, while open world, is set into a segmented element where it opens up as you go.
Your main goal in all this? To save your missing sister, Mari, who has been captured by Hannya and his followers. Unlike the previous works by Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2), you won’t find that this game is steeped in horror elements. While there are a few that crop up from time to time, the game itself is creepy at best, which is fine as there are plenty of things that can creep us out in different ways.
Within minutes, you’ll begin to learn to adjust to the combat system of Ghostwire: Tokyo and how different it is from other games
While the game itself is a first-person action title where you will find yourself wielding the elements of wind, water, and fire. Each of them comes to the fray with their own unique abilities. Wind is a direct attack, allowing you to be precise in your actions. Its charge ability allows you to throw multiple single shot attacks at the enemy of your choice. Just note, due to spoilers, we are leaving out a few pieces of the combat gameplay loop.
Water is great for dispacting groups that are in a close range while the charge attack does even more damage, taking out even larger groups while also breaking any possible defenses that they might have. Fire, on the other hand, is a powerhouse attack. It’s precise, explosive, and penetrates multiple enemies once upgraded. On the other hand, its charge attack is explosive, powerful, and can easily take out multiple enemies that are too close together.
But, what about the elements of earth? It matters, right? Well, we haven’t seen that one just yet. The best we can assume, that’s where your bow comes into place. It’s good for taking out both non-human entities, but also, making up for that missing element itself, which to be honest, would be awesome to have.
However, this is where combat begins to stumble. The gameplay loop if it remains mostly the same. Use each attack type depending on the situation, expose the cores of your enemies, however many you wish to do so to, and then destroy the cores from wherever you are in the area. Then cleanse and repeat. While you can use things such as talismans, your bow, and other forms of insight, it doesn’t change the pacing much, but also doesn’t require you use them just a whole lot.
For combat, that’s as far as it ever evolves except for those moments where both KK and Akito are separated, thrusting Akito in the moments where stealth, the bow, and your ability to run all come together. To help keep the inevitable “slow-down” from happening, exploration becomes a rather large part of the game, as do the investigations (also sidequests) you will undertake.
Some are as simple as talking to an oni, yōkai, and our various other friends you’ll discover on your own when you dive into the game. However, just how unique are the sidequests, extended story elements, and even the world design? Glad you asked. We actually need to talk about the exploration and content that there is to enjoy. Especially since we make it a goal to avoid as many spoilers as we can. So let’s talk about the extra stuff to do.
The world itself is quite impressively designed and filled to the brim with things to do including KK’s investigation notes, free some souls, and investigate mysterious disappearances
I’ll admit. I love the sidequests in this game. I enjoy the search and find requests, I even enjoyed digging deeper into the lore thanks to KK’s missing notes. Each one gave the world of Ghostwire: Tokyo more life than it had previously. It was unexpected to be honest. Some games isolate the missions as minor little self-contained stories, however, Ghostwire: Tokyo went one step further, deciding to open the world up as much as they could before pushing the pedal-to-the-metal.
While some of the stories are self-contained, they give you more elements behind enemies such as “The Lady in Red,” the “doors that disappear” and even a bit of insight behind some of the yōkai, oni, and megatama you will encounter throughout the game. One side mission even goes far enough to reveal cursed items, having you find a pair of them, reuniting them, and sealing their curse before anyone else falls victim to what they are capable of.
One unique one takes you into finding out the truth about an apartment housing area that mysteriously disappeared. During your time there, you’ll find that this one particular incident isn’t the first of its kind. That there are others involved as well spread throughout the city, allowing you to discover the truth behind each of their causes, the entities involved, and the hardships it caused for those who fell victim.
Upon completion, each of these sidequests, investigations, or whatever you would like to call them, will reward you with bits and pieces to complete the game. These rewards might include money, spirits, and or even magatama that can be used to upgrade your skills. It’s worth doing them if you want to show down against Hannya at your full potential. Just turn on the music player in your inventory and you’ll definitely get a whole new experience as Akito.
There’s even torii gates that you can cleanse after fulfilling its requirements needed in order to do so. These gates will open up the world even more, allowing you to take on more quests, earn unique rewards, and access more of the game’s collectibles, if that’s something you enjoy doing.
The only downside? World exploration can be a bit of a pain due to several issues that do seem to appear more often than I’d like to admit. So let’s talk about that for just a second.
Ghostwire: Tokyo’s performance does tend to struggle with occassional framerate hiccups and controller-based hitches
Now, you all know how it goes. There’s very few games that have managed to release that don’t have their own fairshare of issues. This might include things such as framerate drops, game crashes, design elements, or even the occassional game segment that can’t be completed due to some bug or another. That’s the case with Ghostwire: Tokyo.
Unlike many games, Ghostwire: Tokyo has a few unique things going on here. All of them are centered around the controls and the graphics, which we will discuss in that very order. This is partially due to the fact that Ghostwire: Tokyo is exceptionally unique in how many graphics settings it actually has, yes, even on console.
These modes include the ability to cap the frame rate at 30 fps with HDR and ray tracing features. There are, however, modes where you can uncap the frame rate.There are also settings such as HFR (High Frame Rate) Quality Mode (uncapped framerate with HDR), HFR Performance (does not have ray tracing enabled), HFR Quality Mode with VSync, HFR Performance with VSync, and plenty more.
The issue here pops up when trying to play the game in anything, but Quality Mode on a PlayStation 5. Why? Well, performance. While it is a rather attractive game, the frame rate becomes unstable, sometimes causing tears in the screen (without VSync), and rather hefty performance drops during select scenes and environments within the game.
So how do you bypass that issue? Well, play in Quality Mode, capping the game at 30 fps, with HDR and ray tracing enabled. Is this counter intuitive for those who want to get the most out of their high-end console without a hiccup? Yes, but only in some manner of speaking. While ray tracing is absolutely jaw-dropping, it won’t change the experience much if you swap over to Performance Mode and play the game at 60 fps and HDR.
Just don’t expect beautiful neon signs, reflections, and the likes to really bounce off anything. It’ll become a static reflection of some sort as you play. It’s highly suggested you give the Quality Mode a whirl if you really want to get the best experience on PlayStation 5.
Now, there is one issue we do need to discuss since this is an issue that hasn’t seemed to be fixed. Releasing souls, which requires you to basically do a mini game where you will either slide the touchpad or the right thumb stick in order to complete the symbols needed before hitting L2 + R2 in order to release the soul.
The issue? Sometimes it doesn’t read your input at all, causing you to either need to reset, mess up the symbol, or just wait until it shows you the pattern again. We’ve tried numerous ways around this including swapping controllers, restarting the game, and even restarting checkpoints. It still happens almost every time. The cause? We don’t know, but it is irritating when in the middle of trying to release a soul from captivity.
One of the things I can’t help but appreciate is just how well the game itself is presented. It’s beautiful, haunting, and truly takes us deep into Japanese culture, spirituality, and scenery. It’s a game where you can tell that the team at Tango Gameworks poured their hearts and souls into regardless of what element that you look at.
Platforms: PC and PlayStation 5
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 5
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda Zenimax
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 (Standard) | $79.99 (Deluxe)
It’s one where no matter where you turn, there’s a fight, an investigation, or even something you hadn’t seen before waiting for you to look it over. Regardless of where you stand despite the minor performance hiccups, wonky control issues that pop up once in a while, or the plethora of graphics settings; it’s a game worth trying. Tango Gameworks has put their hearts and souls into it and to be quite honest? We hope to see more of this new IP in the future.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game that was provided to us by the publisher for this review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.