We've played the first two chapters of Tango Gameworks' upcoming game, and both our hopes and fears have been spot on.
The talented developers over at Tango Gameworks have shown that they know how to make cool-looking enemies and environments with The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2, so I wasn't surprised when Ghostwire Tokyo seemed to deliver the same in its gameplay presentation last month. I've always been interested in Japanese mythology and folklore, and being able fight and meet some of these fascinating creatures while using some fancy hand gestures to cast magic that would make Doctor Strange proud solidified it as a must-try for me. Even the short presentation made me question the longevity of it, however, which is why it's safe to say the early parts of Ghostwire Tokyo have been exactly as expected...both good and bad.
Bethesda and Tango Gameworks have been kind enough to give me Ghostwire Tokyo early and share my thoughts about its first two chapters. That's quite a lot when you're a completionist like me, as I spent a bit more than eight hours roaming around Tokyo looking for neat collectibles detailing creatures and objects found in Japanese mythology while shooting holes through the chests of Slender Man-looking fellas, headless Japanese students and a well-prepared child wearing a yellow raincoat no matter the weather.
It's been fun, thanks to the aspects I've liked about the trailers. Tokyo almost feels like my own playground while I cast and swap between the different elemental attacks that become available early on. Each of them having different gestures and effects depending on whether they're cast in quick succession or charged up, making every encounter a feast for the eyes and ears (and hands if you're playing with the greatly utilised DualSense controller). Top that with some spooky environmental changes in true The Evil Within/Control-style, and it's clear that Tango had some great ideas in its initial pitch. Then it's such a shame that it doesn't seem like they're able to build upon these great fundamentals in a significant way.
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Because I've been doing pretty much the same exact things the last seven hours as I did in the first. Sure, some of the enemies look a bit different and I've gradually acquired two new magic types and a bow, but they don't spice things up enough. First of all, it doesn't matter where you hit enemies, so each encounter can play out the exact same way unless you just change which element you're using for funsies. Enemies aren't weaker to different elemental attacks either. Instead, the different elements have different functions. Wind is like your automatic rifle, allowing you to either fire in quick bursts or charge it up to fire multiple shots at once while still only using one charge. Fire is your grenade because its low "ammunition" count is compensated with a charge attack that shoots a fireball that deals a lot of damage in a large area. Your shotgun equivalent is water, talismans are stun and flash grenades etc. This might have been okay if it wasn't for the fact that most enemies are very slow and dumb. Even on higher difficulties, just casting spells and backing up when someone gets close is an easy way to victory. Being able to regenerate health and getting some ammunition back for ripping the core out of your opponents when they're close to death makes it even less challenging and engaging.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still enjoying my time in Tokyo, but mostly because I creating my own challenges and have fun doing side missions and finding collectibles that are sure to entertain others that love folklore and mysteries. Examples of the former are seeing how many enemies I can rip the cores out of at once, how many stealth-kills I can do or just how quick I can end a fight. These things, the mysterious story, and great presentation both in terms of graphics and sound are enough for me to definitely finish Ghostwire Tokyo, but I won't be do a second playthrough if it's as repetitive as it seems after the first eight hours.