‘Ghostwire: Tokyo’ Has So Much Going On, And I Love It – Review
Tango Gameworks’ newest first-person horror title has so much to do in it that I’m happily overwhelmed at seeing the side mission, vendor, and Torii Gate icons pop-up across the sprawling metropolis that is Shibuya when I press my controller’s touchpad. The Shinji Mikami founded developer based in Tokyo continues its trend of situating players in the heart of paranormal otherworldliness with Ghostwire: Tokyo. The latest Sony title tries to capitalize on both the famed Mikami name, as well as the success of The Evil Within 1 & 2—both of which still seem to polarize critics for various reasons.
The PlayStation 5 exclusive continues the developer’s trend of dividing players, as early reviews of Ghostwire: Tokyo spread across a pretty significant spectrum. While many find the core of the game charming and worthwhile, others feel bogged down by the sheer number of goings on the title has to offer. For fellow completionists out there, know this game is ambrosia.
Ghostwire: Tokyo follows Akito Izuki, a young student saved from certain death after his body is possessed by a mysterious being we come to know as KK. At the outset of the game, a menacing figure in a Hannya mask appears and leads what can only be described as a “mass vanishing” across Tokyo—think MCU Blip but with some real teeth.
The phenomenon, coupled with Akito’s internal struggle with having KK in his head, add to the eerie ambience of the quiet yet gorgeous nightscape of Tokyo. We also learn that before he died, KK was a paranormal investigator who trailed the Hannya masked man. The stakes are suddenly amplified when we experience a vision of the masked man whisking away Akito’s younger sister, Mari, while she lies in hospital, recovering from a house fire that left her body severely burned.
The controller layout and its responsiveness do leave room for improvement upon first impression—Ghostwire: Tokyo is also available on PC and I couldn’t shake the feeling that a mouse and keyboard would prove more fluid than a DualSense wireless controller. There are options to tweak the sensitivity of your analog sticks, as well as the acceleration and deceleration of your turning speed, and so those were dialed up almost immediately when I started playing.
While little is explained early on about the Hannya masked man or the vanishing, Ghostwire: Tokyo immediately draws you in to the uniqueness of it all—from the combat mechanics and consumables available (like Nether Green Tea, which is a spectral food that heals and applies a temporary buff to Akito), to the adorable yokai known as Nekomata that run and operate the various shops strewn across Tokyo, the game immerses you in rich Japanese lore and culture from the very start. You can also pet and feed the numerous stray dogs in the city (I fed the first pupper I encountered, and he dug up nearly 800 meika for me, the game’s currency used at shops and vendors).
Enemies in the game are no slouch either. While Akito, and by extension KK, have access to a seriously stylish arsenal of “hand weaving” elemental attacks, the nefarious demons and spirits that plague the city pack a wallop. The game’s director, Shinichiro Hara, said in an interview that the movements and combat style were “inspired by traditional Kuji-kiri hand gestures.” The organic flourishes that see Akito launching blades of water and charged explosive orbs are indicative of the authentic experience Tango and Bethesda wanted players to engage with. Nods to the developer’s previous horror titles can be seen in some of the menacing enemies that haunt the streets of Tokyo: Rain and Rugged Walkers are stand-ins for those who have been overworked to death and mercilessly trampled on, and Students of Misery are mostly headless spirits born from the anxieties of young students.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is stuffed full of content, with an expansive tutorials list that finds new additions every few minutes it seems. Side missions, gate sealing, absorbing and transporting spirits, a nifty skill tree, animal interactions, offerings (and subsequently wondering whether 500 meika will net you some sweet rewards), and the constant back and forth between Akito and KK bring so much life to a title years in the making. If you like having a ton of things to do in a game, or if you’re a fan of anything Gantz: O, Tango Gamework’s Ghostwire: Tokyo is an easy choice when it drops March 25 on PlayStation 5 and Windows PC.