Hands-on review: Ghostwire Tokyo (PS5)
Although a bit of a tonal departure for Bethesda, Ghostwire Toyko is a good-looking and eerie action game that is aimed at a very select audience.
Ghostwire Tokyo is another game from Tango Gameworks, the Japanese studio behind 2014's The Evil Within and its 2017 sequel. Ghostwire tones down the horror of The Evil Within games being more of an eerie shooter than on par with Resident Evil.
During a supernatural event that caused the disappearance of everyone in Tokyo our hero, Akito, is killed, only to be resurrected and possessed by a spirit called KK. Together they must fight the ghost-like Yokai and get to the bottom of what's going on.
The city is vast, but gatekept by a “strange fog” that acts as a deadly barrier obstructing players and guiding them where they should be going. It's a massive design conceit that caused a bit of eye-rolling (not as much as the boxes that half-block staircases making them untraversable by a man that can float).
The first-person gameplay focuses on using spirit energy and melee attacks to take out bizarre faceless Slenderman types and headless schoolgirls in Sailor Moon outfits. For a game that is heavy on combat, the mechanic is quite scrappy. It's not that it is hard, it's just a bit messy.
There are flying beasts that can be used as grapple points to climb high buildings. Liberating areas of monsters removed the fog, opening up new parts of the city.
Most of the fun is had exploring the city and experimenting with the ability unlocks, which start to make you feel like a superhero. The game comes across a bit like a first-person Infamous, for fans familiar with the PlayStation exclusive franchise.
Full of references to Japanese culture, Ghostwire Tokyo is bound to resonate with both elitist game journos that regularly visit the land of the rising sun and similarly well-heeled gamers. For the rest of us, we are confronted with another very Japanese game that'll make us feel uncultured and a bit confused.
But the game looks pretty good and is a polished affair, regardless. If you are nonplussed regarding the location, it may take a while to get into the game. But there is a decent game in there if you care to look.
All the dialogue is in Japanese with English (or your choice of language) subtitles. Whilst this is fine in cut-scenes, in the middle of an action sequence when you are trying to sort something out, it is difficult to read the subtitles. This means that a huge chunk of the plot/exposition/tips is lost on players that can't understand spoken Japanese.
Ghostwire Tokyo seems to be an acquired taste. It's a short game that uses mechanics and ideas that you'll find better utilised elsewhere.
It may appeal to fans of the perculiar Yakuza games and others that don't suffer from the suspension of disbelief when confronted by the nonsensical. Regardless of the above, though, I congratulate Bethesda for helping to bring Tango Gameworks' game to us, something bold and different.
Ghostwire Tokyo is out now and is currently exclusive to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. A PlayStation 5 copy of the game was supplied by the publisher for this review.