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July 2024

GhostWire: Tokyo

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Release Date: March 25, 2022


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PS5/PC Preview - 'Ghostwire: Tokyo'

by Redmond Carolipio on Feb. 4, 2022 @ 7:00 a.m. PST

GhostWire: Tokyo is an action-adventure where you face off against dangerous spirits and fight to purge Tokyo of evil as you unravel the mystery behind a mass disappearance.

Pre-order Ghostwire: Tokyo

It's been a while since Tango Gameworks' Shijni Mikami and then-creative director Ikumi Nakamura unveiled Ghostwire: Tokyo at E3, where Nakamura memorably irradiated the crowd with waves of cheerful energy while setting the stage for a series of unfortunate spiritual events about to befall Tokyo.

That was back in 2019. Nakamura left the company shortly after, and in the time that passed, many people were curious about the direction and condition of the project. Tango Gameworks has earned its following, as Mikami is practically the father of survival horror, and The Evil Within games have scored high with dedicated fans. Answers also emerged over time: Ghostwire was to be a first-person game with spirit/horror elements that seemed to be leaning toward more action and fewer scares ... a true battle against the unknown.

Along with other assembled media, we got the first solid look at Ghostwire: Tokyo during a recent virtual preview event. Game director Kenji Kimura laid out the general scope of the game's story before stepping aside for a healthy overview of gameplay. The setup: Everyone in Tokyo seems to have suddenly vanished, and the city has been overtaken by ethereal forces. Many of those forces come in the form of the gaunt, faceless, suit-wearing Visitors.

Caught in the middle of all this is Akito, who seems like a relatively harmless young man until we're told he gets paired/fused with KK, a recently deceased ghost hunter who appears to serve as an ever-present companion, voice-in-the-head, and guide as Akito learns to master a variety of magical battle abilities against the spiritual denizens that have overtaken Tokyo. Together, there's a bit of an Obi-Wan/Luke vibe between them, along with some definite and persistent Constantine energy in the layered world that Tango is building.

If you loved the Yakuza series because you liked wandering around in a walkable Japanese cityspace kicking ass, Ghostwire: Tokyo might have you covered. The illuminated bits of Tokyo we saw looked gorgeous at night, even though hellish beings and confused spirits were everywhere. Instead of using fists or smashing bicycles over people, Akito (and KK) utilize a brand of combat that weaves together martial arts concepts and magic. The early result is a sexy combat system that takes advantage of its first-person viewpoint and the fact that Akito mostly uses his hands instead of lugging around a cannon that takes up a portion of the screen.

We saw Akito fire magic bolts from his fingertips (which will appease any FPS instincts) as well as "grab the core" of weakened foes upon the pulling of the left trigger. This finishes off the enemy and treats the player to the sight of Akito's hands swiftly and deftly weaving ethereal wire into complex patterns. It looked damn cool. A look at the world map evokes memories of Ghost of Tsushima's "fog of war," which gets cleared as Akito travels around the city and uses his power to "cleanse" gates that he encounters. He can also run into innocent spirits in danger of being trapped by the Visitors and their ilk. Attempting to free one leads to a time-challenge fight, where the reward leads to the opportunity to absorb spirits and level-up Akito's talents.

The preview also included glimpses into other facets of the Akito/KK team-up. A search of KK's old place reveals a new weapon: a bow and arrow that adds additional firepower and combat flexibility, as well as a peek into KK's occupation while he was alive. We also got a look at Akito's "spectral vision," which allows the player to tag wandering spirits and interact with the underworld. In this demonstration, the vision was actually used to follow a target's tracks; it reminded me a little of Aloy's Focus tracking from Horizon: Zero Dawn.

One final thing that stood out in the preview was a side mission given to Akito by a spirit: an old woman who wanted rice crackers to be delivered to someone. Following this mission eventually pieces together a short, sad story of how a man's greed led to an unfortunate death. Satisfyingly, Akito gets to exorcize the bastard via the tracing of patterns with the right stick. It reinforces Akito/KK's role as emerging spirit warriors and core players in the fight against Hannya, a foreboding masked figure who seemed to be the most powerful of the enemies Akito will face.

I enjoyed what I saw of Ghostwire: Tokyo — the use of magic, the fast pace of the combat and the overall tone of the game holds a lot of promise in a growing number of offerings for the new consoles. It's targeted for release in the spring of this year.

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