Ghostwire: Tokyo is the latest project from Shinji Mikami and Tango Gameworks which is now part of Bethesda/Microsoft. This is an action-based spin on the survival horror-styled games that Mikami usually makes. Released exclusively on PlayStation 5 and PC, Ghostwire: Tokyo is ambitious in nature and almost knocks it out of the park. With a little over 30hrs invested, I can tell you this is no short-stack and does deliver a fun time to the player that will keep you rather interested to find out more about this strange phenomenon that has taken over Tokyo.
GW: T offers various graphical modes for you to enjoy, and from my experience, the High Frame Rate Performance Mode(v-sync) appears to be the best one you can pick. What is typically given to you in most next-gen games is Quality Mode(emphasis on visuals) or Performance Mode(emphasis on framerate), but because modern 4k TVs and monitors can allow up to 120fps, and the fact that this is also on pc, HFR Performance allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds with graphics and an uncapped framerate. This mode also prevents screen tearing so you can enjoy a smoother experience than the others.
With a wonderfully re-imagined Tokyo, Tango Gameworks has stated this is not an open-world game, but instead just a vast map for you to explore. You really get the feel of being there due to how accurate it is despite all of its inhabitants being gone – which adds to the paranormal and supernatural suspense you may feel when exploring and seeing all of the lost souls that need to be helped.
The cutscenes and gameplay are both clean, and in some cases vibrant in areas of the city that have tons of city lights. In other areas where you experience said paranormal activities and run into your devious yet creepy enemies known as Visitors, you most certainly experience the horrific atmosphere Tango Gameworks and Mr. Mikami have created.
My only gripe in regards to the graphical power of GW: T is that I did notice some pop-in textures and some rare pixelation or fuzziness on the character models. The gameplay in this game isn’t something that one can describe as revolutionary, but interesting and unique. You obtain these powers from your lovely spirit friend KK call ethereal weaving. This allows you to become like an air-bender and fire off attacks rooted in different elements…except earth for some reason. Once you stagger your enemy, you are prompted to crush their souls, which is oddly addicting and satisfying. You have the option to mix things up a bit by attacking from a distance or up close and personal, and you also have three methods of doing so. This move is called purging – when doing so from a distance you weave these beams of light that imitate rope that attaches to their core and allows you to kill them.
You can also get in close if you’re feeling froggy and crush their cores with your bare hands, or you knock them down on the floor and slap them with a seal and then weave their souls into oblivion. I enjoy the latter two because who doesn’t like a little brutality? The movement in this game, however, is quite sluggish and feels restricting.
I would suggest messing around with the settings so it feels as natural to you as any other FPS game you play. Despite the different elements you have at your disposal, the combat is pretty basic and doesn’t necessarily grab you. I would have liked to be able to do more with the combat especially since KK has experience fighting the visitors, and probably in more ways than ethereal weaving.
GW:T makes great use of the haptic feedback features on the PS5 and gives you a sense of immersion – as if you’re the one that’s really in the game weaving attacks. You can feel the pressure build-up in the triggers when charging up your ethereal attacks and even more so when purging enemies and cleansing shrines. Handweaving seals are surprisingly accurate when using the trackpad, just be mindful to hold your dual sense controller properly so the movements register the way they should. If you’re not a fan of using the trackpad you can also hold square to let KK perform the seals or use the right joystick to do them yourself with much more ease.
The skill tree is quite easy to level up and complete due to the abundance of experience earned not only in combat but from sidequests and fetch quests as well. These fetch quests are given to you by the spirit cats called Nekomata you cross paths with on the street as vendors or in a store whenever you go to buy more ammo or food. The random souls you save can also give you experience as well whenever you help them.
Part of this game’s mechanics is exchanging those lost souls for currency and experience – sounds shady, right? Here’s how it works: you save these souls that you find all around Shibuya and store them in this item called a Katashiro, and you can buy a maximum of 50 to store all of these souls. Once you’ve maxed out a katashiro, you have to use a payphone that you must pay to use in order to exchange said souls for experience points.
As messed up as this may seem, coming across money isn’t so hard to the point where you have to be cheap with your spending. Speaking of spending money, you also have to buy filters and poses for photo mode if you choose to ever use it. This isn’t to say spending money is the only way to unlock these extras because it isn’t – completing those fetch quests for the money cat I spoke about earlier also enables you to earn these bonuses. You know what they say…you gotta spend money to make money.
Now onto one of the more interesting parts of this game – the story! Without giving away any spoilers (only what you’re shown in the first five minutes of the game) GW: T starts you off as a character named Akito that has seemingly died, and your body gets possessed by a spirit named KK. The two of you work together to save Tokyo from a group of terrorists that have taken over the city and turned Shibuya into a literal ghost town. These terrorists also use evil spirits called visitors to claim civilian souls that are still lingering around and to kill you for interfering with the terrorists’ plans.
There is more than enough action mixed in with survival horror elements thanks to Shinji Mikami, who has also created some of gaming’s most horrifying franchises such as Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, and The Evil Within.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is visually appealing and has an intriguing story to boot, despite the repetitive and lackluster combat. The combination of a first-person shooter and some light survival horror does keep things interesting enough for you to explore Shibuya and complete some side quests here and there during the main campaign.
I would recommend this game to anyone that’s a fan of Japanese/survival horror, but I would also tell you to wait for a deal on this game. I would be satisfied buying this for $40 or whenever a big sale takes place, and I would love to see some extra DLC that would shake things up and keep the excitement going.