Taking a stroll through Tokyo is a feast for the senses. The crowds are large and all-enveloping with the shiny neon lights flickering in the skyline. It is a huge space that is always full of people and noise. Taking this real-life place and emptying it out of human activity in a rapture like incident is an interesting premise in itself. Then filling the space with spirits and evil ghost men with umbrellas, reminiscent of Slender Man is more terrifying still.
This is Ghostwire Tokyo, a brand new game from Tango Gameworks that shows a supernatural entity that has emptied the city of physical human existence leaving clothes, umbrellas and the spirits of its inhibitors behind. The intricate detail put into the city and its supernatural inhabitants are lovingly created to combine with intuitive controls with full use of the dual sense controller and a huge open world in Tokyo’s Shibuya region, Ghostwire Tokyo delivers one of the most intriguing mysteries and one of the best games of the year.
Players inhibit the body of Akito, who awakens after the vanishing and finds his body inhabited by a spirit by the name of KK. The two must learn to share Akito’s body as they navigate their way to Akito’s sister who is lying in hospital to see if she survived the vanishing. KK on the other hand is intrigued as to why Akito is still alive and mostly plays along with his search, jumping in at times to assist with unlocking more of the Shibuya region, while obviously harbouring a motive of his own. Akito’s story is the more heartfelt of the two, with his bond with his family tugging on the heartstrings and enticing you to keep playing and unlocking more of the mysteries of this strange event and the visitors left behind.
These are divided up into main and side missions, boss battles and character progression that include powers and weapons. Souls of people from the departed event can sometimes hover in the air, trapped by enemies who wish to consume them or have unfinished business that you can assist them with before absorbing their spirit into a paper Katashiro and depositing them at a phone booth. The region is separated by Hori gates that are surrounded by a killer mist that will unlock areas on your map. The open-world on this game is considerably larger than I expected and while I got through 40 hours of playtime so far, there is plenty more to play and uncover. When you are following the main story, the game moves at a rapid pace, when you enter into the open-world part, the game slows down to allow you to play at your own speed. This allows for the game to really breathe and give you some quiet moments to explore the city and motivate you to unlock more Hori gates.
Akito’s main power is Wind Weaving which allows you to repel enemies and push them back while being able to rip out their core and exterminate them for good. The more you play, you will eventually unlock and add Water and Fire weaving which can be scrolled through to adapt how you play. These also work in conjunction with a bow and arrow you can use to destroy obstacles that control barriers that may be blocking your path forward but you are unable to reach. I had so much fun using all of these different abilities which kept things moving at a razor pace when I got my head around each ability and how best to use them. There is also a spectral vision option in which Akito can highlight collectible items and any enemies in the immediate area.
The enemies are varied and are based on Japanese folklore. While they don’t come across as horror, they are definitely on the creepy side and add to the environment’s eerie and unsettled feeling that permeates the game. The city itself shows recent signs of life with music blaring from abandoned karaoke bars and advertisements on billboards flickering the neon streets. Seeing these ancient aetherial beings emerge from the abandoned streets, creeping over the pile of clothes left from the bodies that used to populate the city.
Visually this game is spectacular. The immaculate replica of the city is a testament to the designers, while the design for the main characters is unique, some of the creatures do look a little rough in comparison to their environment. My favourite design is the dogs and cats littered throughout the environment. You can collect dog food to read the minds of k-9’s while giant suspended cats populate the 7 Eleven style mini-mart allowing you to purchase various items that will help you along the way.
Combining with the visuals is the eerie and dark soundtrack that helps sell the idea of an abandoned city centre that is crawling with mysteries to solve. While Tango Gameworks perfected the jump scare in their previous game The Evil Within 2, Ghostwire Tokyo is more of a slow build, with each dark corner playing tricks on your eyes. The DualSense controller gets a full workout here with a vibrant and reactive relationship between the DualSense and what’s happening on screen. The audio echoes through the controller’s speaker and the vibrations are intense, even down to the pitter-patter of rain rumbling in your hands. This is one of the stand out games on the Playstation 5 to make full use of the DualSense controller.
Ghostwire Tokyo delivers a highly emotional story in one of the most beautifully detailed environments ever made in a game. The eerie setting allows for the world to truly come alive as you unlock the gates and clear the evil mist. The more mysteries you uncover, the more the world begins to make sense and the answer to what made the disappearance event occur becomes clearer. While the game takes a bit to get going, when it does it shows why Tango Gameworks are at the top of their game. Despite the slow introduction, the characters and world are so inviting, you will want to spend as much time in this world as you possibly can. Roaming the streets of Tokyo has never looked so good, even if it is with a bunch of supernatural beings who want to trap the souls of everyone on earth. Ghostwire Tokyo is a rare gem in an overcrowded gaming year that you won’t want to miss.
Ghostwire Tokyo releases on PS5 on March 25, 2022.
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