|Platforms||PS5 (reviewed), PC|
|Release Date||March 25th, 2022|
Before E3 took a break, Ghostwire: Tokyo was announced with much mystery behind it. Then as Bethesda revealed more footage and information, I grew more interested than expected. Though I played Tango Gameworks’ previous work, I couldn’t make sense of anything going on. I’m happy to say that Ghostwire is a much more digestible video game, for both good and bad. Ghostwire: Tokyo has a setting and build-up that could have made it my game of the year, but I’m sad to report it doesn’t land. However, I still enjoyed my time with this world and its characters.
Spiritual Content: Ghostwire: Tokyo‘s primary focus is a terrorist attack that unleashes the spirit world upon Tokyo. Players face off against varying kinds of hostile spirits while using magical spells, talismans, and seals to accomplish their mission, and they can equip prayer beads to gain stat bonuses. Yokai and Tengu are two kinds of spirits that the player will interact with regularly that are not hostile. Many activities include helping spirits pass on to the afterlife through freeing them or completing side quests for them. Throughout the story, players will be stepping into the spirit world for a short time.
Violence: It is pleasantly surprising that there is no blood in the game. Much of the combat has players firing magical spells at spirits. Light effects highlight damage and spirits disintegrate or fall into pieces when defeated. Players have the option of ripping the core out of a spirit’s body, which may be one of the more intense visual features. Some enemies carry large sets of scissors and machetes to attack the player.
Language: “Sh*t”, “a**hole”, and “pr*ck” are present within the dialogue.
Disturbing Imagery: Various scenarios depict the city of Tokyo and locations within it in a rapture-like situation. Players travel on foot through the streets and buildings and see clothes and other objects littered across the ground, reflecting the aftermath of the catastrophe caused by the game’s villain.
The story of Ghostwire: Tokyo puts you in the shoes of 22-year-old Akito Izuki during a city-wide attack in which a mist is taking the lives of citizens across Tokyo. Akito survives the attack thanks to the spirit of a fallen detective by the name of KK. Akito and KK have mutual goals: KK is after Hannya, who is responsible for the attack, while Akito aims to rescue his sister, who is the key to Hannya’s plan. While the story itself doesn’t stand out, I immensely enjoyed learning about the characters and events before the game started. I have yet to try it for myself, but a free prequel visual novel was released before release. I’m grateful I chose not to play that first because it would’ve taken away the most exciting aspects of the story.
The gameplay is the highlight of Ghostwire: Tokyo. From a first-person perspective, you’ll be firing a handful of magic spells from your character’s hands at hostile spirits in such a way that I’d love Tango Gameworks to do a Doctor Strange video game. With KK and Akito sharing a body, Akito can use wind, water, and fire blasts. Once evil spirits take enough damage, you can pull their core from their bodies and defeat them with an epic finisher animation. All those abilities are upgradable, too, and brought a feeling of progression even as I fumbled in learning how to use them; they eventually became a force to be reckoned with. I enjoyed the fast-paced action as I blasted away evil spirits as they drew closer.
Many of the game’s trailers didn’t share much about what kind of game this was; to my surprise, it is an open-world action-adventure title. I’m hesitant to say it is a sandbox because there aren’t enough options to interact with in this world for me to categorize it as such. You’ll be opening areas of the map, cleansing tori gates full of enemies, and rescuing spirits to help them pass on. Many of the side missions in the games also come from spirits who have unfinished business and aren’t ready to pass on. Though I was not very interested in the side missions, I enjoyed the other activities in which I was helping restore the city of Tokyo. Since there isn’t much variety, I can’t see completionists sticking around for long, and completing many of these activities isn’t essential to experiencing the whole story.
Those activities aren’t the only ways that players will interact with the city of Tokyo. Despite the lack of variety in things to do, I still enjoyed exploring the multi-layered environments. First, you can grapple to new heights and explore rooftops using the Tengu spirits that fly in the air—but it’s no Dying Light 2 and lacks complex traversal. You’ll also need to purchase consumables, ammunition for your bow, and other items. The city may be lifeless, but Yokai cats run the convenience stores to meet any needs you might have. If you want to drink in the sights, Ghostwire: Tokyo has a photo mode that focuses on landscape shots, though you can take some selfies too. I’m a virtual photographer, so I appreciate that the developers included a photo mode.
The game’s presentation is a crucial piece of what kept my attention to the end. To make another Doctor Strange comparison, many mind-bending scenarios in the story played with the environment around me. The city of Tokyo also felt to scale. and I could explore every nook, cranny, and alley it had to offer. I remember seeing a video on Tiktok that matched up streets in the video game with real-life footage of someone who lived in Tokyo. Immersion is where this game shines, which is most important due to its first-person nature. You’ll be trekking through Tokyo through streets, skyscrapers, and even the underbelly.
For me, Ghostwire: Tokyo was a memorable experience, but I can’t say it will be for others. While it excels in immersion, how we spend our time in its world is nothing we haven’t seen before. The city is superbly crafted, but the activities it has to offer are pretty standard trappings of an open-world adventure. The upgrade trees lack character, but the progression of getting your abilities for the first time to contending with whatever stands in your way feels natural. Aside from a few missions that remove your abilities, I enjoyed the story and found myself invested in the characters and events. At 10+ hours, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a supernatural adventure that I can see players pleasantly surprised with, especially if—or perhaps when—it eventually drops on Game Pass after running as a Playstation exclusive.
Review key kindly provided by Forty Seven Communications
The Bottom Line
Ghostwire falls just short of delivering in its finale, but its one of the most unique experiences I'll have all year.