Ghostwire: Tokyo Preview - Paranormal Showdown in Big Tokyo
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 02:01am 05/02/22 | Comments
After a behind closed doors look at the latest from Tango Gameworks, we can’t wait to get our hands on this one.
Ghostwire: Tokyo, Bethesda’s second exclusive release for the PlayStation and PC (following Arkane’s Deathloop from last year), is something of a departure for development studio Tango Gameworks. After the survival horror one-two of the The Evil Within entries, we’ve got a first-person action-adventure set in a wonderfully realised and highly detailed modern-day Tokyo.
Even so, there’s plenty of creepiness to be found. The paranormal story centres around a mysterious force, and fog, removing all of the people and replacing them with ghostly Visitors. Some look like silhouettes and others like phantoms and oddities from Japanese folklore.
Naturally, you take on the role of someone seemingly unaffected by the strange paranormal goings on, Akito, and embark on a quest to help restore the now sealed-off Shibuya and its citizens. And that’s unaffected in the sense that Akito’s face is covered by some weird black stuff emanating black-stuff-particles. And he’s got supernatural powers to call on.
With Sony presenting an in-depth look at the game highlighting some gameplay today (as per above), we managed to get an extended 30-minute deep dive from Tango Gameworks last week to see the story, exploration, combat, and open-world design in greater detail. This is worth highlighting because Ghostwire: Tokyo has the look and feel of something we haven’t quite seen before. Very eastern-like presentation, albeit with fluid first-person combat and more western-style open-world elements. A unique combo to be sure, but an identity and style that is all its own.
Very eastern-like presentation, albeit with fluid first-person combat and more western-style open-world elements. A unique combo to be sure, but an identity and style that is all its own.
In fact the best way to describe the combat is DOOM meets Japanese horror, with a dash of Tetris Effect. The particle effects are not only vibrant but playful and in tune with the elemental powers Akito can call on via hand-based Ethereal Weaving. Taking the first-person inspiration a little further you might say that shooting fireballs and things like wind-projectiles with your fingertips is akin to the magical focus of something like Heretic and Hexen. Note to self: be sure to let Team Xbox know that Tango would be perfect for a Hexen reimagining.
There’s a musical quality too, thanks in part to the wonderful animation work. There’s expressive first-person hand movement and animation and then there’s Ghostwire: Tokyo, which finds a way to convey skill, grace, tension, and even split-second moments of rage like you’re watching elaborate hand puppets tell a story of love, revenge, and redemption. Note to self: pitch Bethesda the idea of an all-hand cinematic retelling of Ghostwire: Tokyo’s story.
There are other weapons like bows and magical cards to call on for some AoE action, but it's the hand-spells that look wonderful in action. So much so that things like sneak-based takedowns, combos, precision shots, and large pyrotechnic heavy spells, take on a sense of visual originality that is hard not to be impressed with. Takedowns especially, or destroying the spiritual cores of Visitors, look like DOOM Glory Kills by the way of boss battles in the Techno-masterpiece Rez.
All of the action takes place at night, in Tokyo, and visually the environments are all impressive. Running on PS5 there’s a care and level of detail that makes every building, storefront, and bright neon light look like a stand-in for the real thing. By the way of a paranormal alternate dimension of course. Tango is a Japan-based studio, and its cultural knowledge shines through in the art direction and overall visual design. The music too, drawing on traditional Japanese music, sounds classical yet every bit modern and perfectly suited to the strangeness that is Ghostwire: Tokyo.
There’s expressive first-person hand movement and animation and then there’s Ghostwire: Tokyo, which finds a way to convey skill, grace, tension, and even split-second moments of rage like you’re watching elaborate hand puppets tell a story of love, revenge, and redemption.
Structurally though, the setup looks to be very reminiscent of the style of open-world adventures we’ve seen populate the AAA space over the past generation. This means a fairly open map to explore, main quests, side quests, the ability to upgrade abilities, unlock new skills, and takeover sections to open up more of the map. Here that comes in the form of paranormal gates to close that helps clear some of the fog.
Cynically you might condense the description of a modern open-world game to the act of clearing an icon filled map of its icons, one at a time. Mechanically there were glimpses of that in the gameplay we saw, but all of the action and “how” still looked remarkably fresh. Going to a trader to buy items and things; in Ghostwire: Tokyo it’s visiting a convenience store and dealing with a shopkeeper that’s a cute cat spirit with a dash of attitude. Note to self: well done on not writing ‘cattitude’.
And again, there’s just something about expressive hands as literal FPS firearms that looks extremely fun.
To throw just one more comparison into the mix the freshness is a little bit reminiscent of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which was very much a JRPG but set in modern-day Japan. Perhaps it's this setting alone, but we think, as we saw in Yakuza, it’s designing and implementing things we’ve seen before; informed by the setting and story. Zipping around rooftops using spectral wires, fighting off Visitors through the use of finger gestures as magical ammo. It all sits comfortably within the open-world framework of an explorable Tokyo.
Where Ghostwire: Tokyo takes on a more cinematic element and digs into the horror roots of the studio at the helm is seemingly with mainline missions that take place indoors. Here reality and a twisted dream-state converge to create gravity defying versions of regular day things like apartment rooms. Open a door and you’re now on the roof, pick something up and you might be in a new environment entirely.
Zipping around rooftops using spectral wires, fighting off Visitors through the use of finger gestures as magical ammo. It all sits comfortably within the open-world framework of an explorable Tokyo.
With its release date around the corner on PS4, PS5, and PC this is definitely now something we’re itching to get hands-on time with. Itching with expressive and elaborate hand gestures to conjure up a summoning spell to get a copy a month or so early.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is out March 25 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC