— Bethesda (@bethesda) March 22, 2022
Ghostwire: Tokyo is the latest game from Tango Gameworks, the studio led by Resident Evil legend, Shinji Mikami. Previously, Tango Gameworks brought us two fantastic survival horror titles with The Evil Within and its 2017 sequel. So, considering the history of Tango Gameworks and Shinji Mikami, it would be safe to assume that Ghostwire: Tokyo would follow suit in being another survival horror classic. However, that thought needs to leave your mind right now.
Officially, Ghostwire: Tokyo is considered to be an action adventure, and for the most part that is true. That being said, while this game centres around supernatural and ghostly spirits, this can barely be considered a horror game, and that’s by design. Sure, there may be one or two moments when things are a little creepy, but those moments are few and far between. To be fair, that’s the intention of Tango Gameworks. Ghostwire: Tokyo is deliberately so far removed from the survival horror genre; it might as well be Luigi’s Mansion. If I was to describe Ghostwire: Tokyo as a genre, I’d call it a supernatural mystery.
In Ghostwire: Tokyo is quite simple, a mysterious, ghostly smog has swept its way through Tokyo and the streets are invaded by spirits known as “visitors” that have ill intentions. Though there are some friendly Casper’s that are part of the game, many side-quests. However, the human population has vanished, leaving only their clothing and possessions indicating their existence. Though my initial thought was, there must be a legion of naked ghosts somewhere, that’s just me.
Thankfully, you (Akito) have survived the anomaly known as the vanishing, however, you are now possessed by a detective named KK. Both Akito and KK are unlikely partners with their own motives. Akito wants to find the whereabouts of his sister and KK seems to know more than he’s letting on. The spirits appear to be controlled by a masked man wearing a Hannya mask. Both men have different agendas, but a common goal. Discover the truth behind the vanishing and save the disappearing residents of Tokyo.
In order to discover what is happening in Tokyo, KK needs to possess the body of Akito to fulfil his mission, and Akito needs the power of KK to save his sister. This results in Akito and KK combining abilities, but both have a dual consciousness in order to work together. However, at times there is a reluctance, but one needs the help as much as the other. I suppose you can think of their relationship as a buddy cop duo. Only without much of the humour.
So, how does Ghostwire: Tokyo play? For starters, it can be described as a first-person shooter, of sorts. Yet, rather than having guns, Akito is powered by KKs elemental forces, wind, fire, and earth. The powers are essentially zapped by ghosts through the hands of Akito. If you think along the lines of Ryu’s Hadouken, then you might get what I mean. Only in Ghostwire: Tokyo, the powers are wonderfully coloured and look extra gorgeous in 4K. It’s really like colourful fireworks projecting from the palm of Akito’s hands.
Visually, Akito’s powers look fantastic in vibrant 4K. Unfortunately, Akito’s and KKs powers quickly wear thin. Even when you throw KKs enchanted bow and arrow into the mix. Sure, the light show looks very pretty, but there’s little umph and even with the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, it all eventually feels like your powers have little impact. I found myself just spamming attacks until the ghosts were defeated. Sure, some powers have more of an impact on certain ghosts, but I found myself just spamming one attack until I ran out of “ammo” and then I’d just cycle to the next power with little thought of strategy.
For my first few hours with Ghostwire: Tokyo I was having a blast. But by the time I reached 10-12 hours into the game, instead of fighting the spirits, I found them to be so much of a repetitive nuisance, I often found myself just sprinting away and avoiding combat altogether. It also didn’t help matters that there was very little variation in terms of enemy design, as they’re all very samey. It wasn’t that Ghostwire: Tokyo wasn’t fun because most of the main missions were. However, where I think the problem comes is with its many side-missions.
I know I could skip the side-missions, and perhaps in hindsight, I should have. That said, I like to partake in every mission I see and collect every secret that I know is on my radar. This is where I think Ghostwire: Tokyo began to feel like a chore. The map very much reminded me of a congested Ubisoft game. Albeit not to the extent of Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but for its smaller size (which is still quite large), the map of Ghostwire: Tokyo felt like filler.
The side-missions never felt like they aided the development of the main story. But rather stories of other ghostly citizens that helped you level up your powers with bonus XP. Don’t get me wrong, there are elements of Ghostwire: Tokyo’s gameplay that I did enjoy, and the powers look wonderful in motion. I feel that if only the clutter was toned down within the map, the game’s side-missions stories could have been better developed to be more fulfilling. Rather than a means of earning extra XP.
In terms of audio, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a joy. The music sounds eerie and provides the feeling of isolation within the empty streets of the city. The audio is enhanced further if played using a decent headset. So, if you have a headset available, I’d certainly suggest that this is the best way to enjoy Ghostwire: Tokyo. Furthermore, all the voice actors do a great job, regardless of whether you use the native Japanese language or the English dub.
In my humble opinion, where Ghostwire: Tokyo really shines is visually. While I’ve seen better character animations in other leading PS5 titles such as Horizon Forbidden West or even Death Stranding: Directors Cut, the animation is not to be sniffed at. That said, it’s the city of Tokyo that is the star of the show. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting a foreign country, let alone a magnificent city such as Tokyo. However, if I was to imagine what Tokyo might look like, I would guess that this game isn’t far off. Albeit no ghosts and mysterious vanishings.
Ghostwire: Tokyo also has one of the best examples of ray-tracing that I’ve seen on the PS5 to date. Tokyo is wet and gloomy, full of puddles and the reflections and bright neon lights are a joy to behold. Ghostwire: Tokyo also offers six graphics/performance modes and while that can be seen as a positive, on paper, not all the options are as good as you might expect. So, what modes do we have to choose from?
Quality Mode offers ray-tracing, 4K resolution at a capped 30fps. This mode shows off the wonderful ray-tracing effects that the game has to offer, however, the stuttering 30fps is quite noticeable. Performance losses ray-tracing in favour of spatial reflection. But this mode benefits from a target of 60fps.
High Frame Rate Quality Mode attempts to offer 40fps to 50fps, but it feels quite inconsistent while offering ray-tracing visuals. Unfortunately, I noticed a lot of screen tearing when playing the game in this mode. High Frame Rate Performance mode attempts to target 60fps, but I also noticed a little screen tearing in this mode too. Just not as much as HFR quality mode. Thankfully, Tango Gameworks is aware of the screen tearing issue and a patch to fix it is on the way (if not already).
Finally, the final two available modes are High Frame Rate Quality Mode with V-Sync and High Frame Rate Performance Mode with V-Sync. Both of these modes are essentially the same as the two previous modes mentioned above. However, I did notice a little less screen tearing with these modes. In my own opinion, out of the six available modes, I’d probably recommend High Framerate Quality Mode with V-Sync as it seems to offer a little bit of everything while offering decent performance.
Is Ghostwire: Tokyo a fun game? For the most part, I’d say that it is. At least from the perspective of the main story, I felt intrigued enough to soldier on with its story as the mystery of the game’s events slowly unravelled. That being said, if you can resist my OCD tendencies of having to do everything, I’d recommend not focusing too much on the side activities, other than giving you a boost to level up faster. In defence of the game, you won’t miss out on much in terms of story content, as the main emphasis is reserved for the main campaign. In conclusion, Ghostwire: Tokyo had the potential to be a far better game than it ended up being, but in the end, it’s a decent game with moments that shine. Which is perhaps not what many had hoped for Bethesda’s swansong on PlayStation.
- There is also a free visual novel which is a prequel to Ghostwire: Tokyo, which I recommend checking out before playing the game.
- Ghostwire: Tokyo will come to Xbox Series X|S and Game Pass from March 25th, 2023.
- Very little enemy variation