We've taken a look at Tango Gameworks' upcoming PlayStation 5 exclusive title, as part of a hands-off preview session.
Back in 2019 at Bethesda's E3 conference, Tango Gameworks' Shinji Mikami took the stage with Ikumi Nakamura to announce that the Japanese developer was working on a new title called Ghostwire Tokyo. During that reveal, it was noted that the game would be arriving exclusively on PS5 consoles, and that it would be coming in 2021. Obviously, the title was hit by a delay and pushed to 2022, and now that we're a month into the New Year, Bethesda and Tango Gameworks are gearing up to launch this anticipated project. To prepare for that day, which will be March 25, I've had a chance to check out some gameplay as part of a hands-off preview session, where the storyline, combat, and the supernatural version of Japan is shown off in greater detail.
First of all, let me touch on what exactly Ghostwire Tokyo is. This is an action-adventure game where you play as a young Japanese man called Akito, who has become fused with the spirit of a versed and skilled ghost hunter called KK. As this combined duo, the point of the game is to explore Tango's supernatural version of Tokyo, to discover and learn its secrets, and to figure out why exactly a mysterious fog has consumed and turned the residents of a portion of the city into spirits. As you would expect, it's not exactly that simple, as at the core of the story is a powerful mastermind named Hannya, whose goal is to seemingly merge the real world with the spirit world, meaning you'll have to work to thwart his plans, whilst also saving civilians, locating and rescuing Akito's family, and dealing with all kinds of supernatural "visitors" that have crossed into the world.
It's a sort of Ghostbustery storyline, except instead of being framed around a bunch of famous physicists using their advanced scientific gear to wrangle and suck up ghouls and spooky beings, in Ghostwire Tokyo, Akito uses a magical, spell casting technique known as Ethereal Weaving to tussle with the odd entities (who are invisible to regular people) that are threatening the city. This is a physical sort of magic, where Akito waves his hands in strange patterns to cast all manners of spells and abilities capable of damaging and making the enemy spirits vulnerable to a final strike, where Akito pulls their core from their bodies to banish them back to their realm.
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For the most part, Ethereal Weaving sort of looks like a combination of the fluid bending techniques in the Avatar anime, crossed with the finger gun actions of Kumail Nanjiani's Kingo from Eternals. And aside from attacking, you can of course cast a variety of different moves to do a range of other things, such as a shield type ability to protect and deflect oncoming hits, and also abuse stealthy elements to attack from behind to instantly eliminate threats in a swift, almost instantaneous, execution-style action.
As for the enemies you'll be facing, these can be a variety of different spectral creatures. A lot have humanoid forms, for example faceless beings wearing black suits and carrying umbrellas, or young school girl-like foes without heads - they're all very unsettling. Each enemy type, aside from having a unique appearance, also attacks in a unique manner, and can run at you to give you a good smack, or rather instead hurl magical abilities at you from afar. It's your duty as Akito to manage a combat scenario, using the Ethereal Weaving techniques in a fluid manner to avoid taking too many hits, or even better, no hits at all.
To aid in this effort, it does seem as though several items will be made available throughout the story. I say "seem" as during the gameplay, I got to see Akito acquire a powerful bow, which fires magical arrows to eliminate threats at greater distances for large sums of damage. With this in mind, other special items or gear seem like a given.
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As a final note on Akito, while it wasn't a major part of the gameplay (in fact calling it a minor part would be an overstatement), it was shown that the opportunity to upgrade your Weaving techniques will be present, with the upgrading process done through skill points. As for how these are earned, that remains a mystery.
When it comes to moving around Tokyo, there are a few things of importance that we noticed. The actual map of Ghostwire Tokyo seems to be an open world. Don't expect something of the likes of Far Cry or GTA, but the gameplay I saw does suggest that you can wander around the streets of Japan as you wish, and can even visit shops and points of interest (i.e. to destroy growing lumps of Corruption, which house trapped spirits that can be collected and banked in phone booths), and begin side quests (for example, exorcising demons) at your own pace. It's worth being aware that the map isn't massively free to explore from what I've seen. You can't enter a lot of buildings and there aren't many side alleys to travel down, meaning you have to essentially stick to the main streets for the most part, assuming you don't use your skills to grapple to the peculiar flying birds, which fling you onto rooftops. It's a very peculiar, but unique world.
Otherwise, there are a variety of other ways to explore and interact with the world. You can destroy glowing objects to earn a currency that can be spent at stores for helpful items, and can complete basic, run of the mill, almost filler-like open world objectives such as Torii Gates and Shrines, which when completed and cleansed remove a bunch of the fog from the map. And while I was only privy to a portion of the game world, the few glimpses of the world map does suggest that the full Tokyo will be big enough to keep you entertained for quite some time.
While the nature of Ghostwire Tokyo is definitely unique and has the potential to be special, I'm not entirely sold yet. There are a few areas, including the storyline that have me thoroughly intrigued, yet at the same time, the world often seems quite empty, due to the lack of civilians, and in fact, despite its colourful and uncommon design, the Ethereal Weaving did seem rather repetitive and one-dimensional. Granted this could be as the gameplay took place at what seemed to be the start of the game, but it doesn't change the fact that it didn't quite grab me as a diverse and broad combat system.
Once again, I am intrigued by this game though. It's unusual and different and for that reason, I'm excited for the launch. But, at the same time, without being able to go hands-on to experience the combat and explore the world for myself, I can't seem to shake the feeling that something is missing. From what I've seen, Ghostwire Tokyo doesn't seem to quite have that truly enthralling gameplay and likewise, misses the boat on delivering an exceptional, and broad open world as we've come to know from other Bethesda published games. I can't pinpoint exactly what this game wants to be at the moment as it has so many different elements baked into it to some degree. Either way, from a sheer story perspective, Ghostwire Tokyo is shaping up to be one of 2022's most unique titles.