Ghostwire: Tokyo is Bethesda and Tango Gameworks’ new first-person action adventure game, and easily one of the more interesting titles on PS5 and on PC to date. We managed to do the beta just before its March 25 release, and here’s what we think of it.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS
WHILE WE DID OUR BEST NOT TO ADD SPOILERS, WE MAY HAVE TIPS AND REFERENCES THAT MAY GIVE AWAY PARTS OF THE GAME.
Ghostwire: Tokyo Review
- Played on: PC
- Hours played as of writing: 23.3 hours
- Chapters done as of writing: 3/6
Ghostwire: Tokyo immediately plunges you deep into the overwhelming sprawl of Shibuya District in Tokyo, right smack in the middle of its harsh modernity and the (literal) paranormal fog of Japanese lore. You play as Akito, and you find yourself almost dead from an accident and sharing a body with a being named KK, who generally resides in your right hand.
You’re suddenly the only person left in the city, which is now full of lost souls, yokai, and evil spirits (called “Visitors”), and as if things couldn’t get worse, your sister Mari, which you were supposed to visit in the hospital, has been taken by a being in a Hannya mask, and the only way for you to survive a ghost city, cleanse it of a deadly spiritual fog, and finally get her back is to use KK’s supernatural powers and work with him.
Sounds like the pilot episode of an anime? Exactly. Ghostwire: Tokyo gives us Yuyu Hakusho/Hell Teacher Nube feels in a very good way. While the overarching theme is to cleanse Shibuya of its contamination, put vagrant souls to rest, and return the living, you’ve got a lot of side quests to do, and each one is like one anime episode–or a ghost story in Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, an old Japanese game played at night wherein participants would take turns telling ghost stories, blowing out a candle after each one. Upon reaching the hundredth story, it’s said that spirits would be summoned.
(We haven’t counted how many side quests there are as of writing, but it would be awesome if they all amounted to 100. But we digress.)
Character development-wise, Ghostwire: Tokyo does a great job in creating an initially strained friendship between Akito and KK. While it starts as a parasitic relationship (Akito needs KK’s powers and KK needs a body), how the two begin to work together and rely on each other is natural. KK becomes a comforting presence as you walk through the empty streets of Tokyo, because, well, you’re really the only actual living person there. While you “meet” some of KK’s colleagues, you’re basically still alone, in a vast city full of ghosts. And speaking of which…
Ghostwire’s Tokyo City
We cannot stress it enough: Bethesda and Tango Gameworks did an amazing job of recreating a very detailed Tokyo. The map is vast: from the streets, to the tunnels, to the building tops, you won’t run out of nooks and crannies to explore. In fact, exploration is a must if you want to level up your powers. One of our favorite things to do is to latch on a tengu in flight and to pull ourselves onto rooftops before jumping from building to building, collecting souls for safekeeping in our katashiro.
Going full paranormal detective with ethereal weaving
Ghostwire: Tokyo offers a fresh take on first-person battles, and equips you with KK’s elemental powers of wind, fire, and water which you use through ethereal weaving. The goal is to expose a Visitor’s core enough to kill them with a shot or by extracting them with “wires” of ethereal energy. You’re also equipped with talismans you can use to distract and stun them, or easily expose their cores for faster kills (the last one being our favorite to use on Visitor mobs).
At times when you don’t have access to KK’s powers, you can turn to your trusty divine bow and arrows. This definitely reminds us of going thief/assassin in Skyrim, where you crouch around one-or sometimes two-shotting enemies at a distance.
Every time you collect magatama from yokai and skill points from quests and items, you get a chance to level up your abilities, your ethereal weaving skills, and your equipment skills. What you first raise depends on your play style.
The Visitors you regularly fight are initially creepy, but you’ll easily get used to them. There are, however, yokai and evil spirits that appear once in a while that can change or affect your environment. We have to admit that a small shiver runs down our spine when we suddenly turn a corner and find a Crimson Kuchisake in a dark room or a giant Shiromuku at Shibuya Crossing.
Which brings us to this tip: always use your Spectral Vision, which is your ability to see spiritual energy. It reveals if there is anything dangerous around and allows you to strategize your attack accordingly when the situation permits (because yes, there are times when a mob of Visitors suddenly appear out of thin air, which is very, very rude).
One more tip: if you’re not strong enough yet, don’t try getting swiped by the ghost parade crossing certain streets, unless you want to fight waves of Visitors.
Cats, dogs, and nekomata
Ghostwire’s Shibuya isn’t totally bereft of life: you have cats and dogs milling about. Do buy dog food and feed the many shiba inu whose owners have vanished without a trace–they may just give you something nice in return.
Unfortunately, you can’t feed the cats (which is honestly very frustrating, especially when you read their minds and find out that they’re hungry).
On the other hand, the nekomata–cat yokai–are seemingly thriving, taking over convenience stores and shrine stalls. Special nekomata will request you to find specific items. Bring them to them in exchange for money. (Tip: if you have the time, hang out beside a nekomata’s store. You’ll sometimes hear it sing!)
Ghostwire: Tokyo is worth a shot
You probably won’t spend more than a hundred hours on Ghostwire: Tokyo, as the main story quest only takes around 20 hours, and with the added side quests, the game will probably take around 40 to 45 hours (we’re halfway through at 23 hours in). It however makes the most of the short play time and packs it with rich lore–you won’t even skip ghostly NPCs when they tell you about a mysterious train station that no one comes back from.
That being said, you won’t get a super heavy and intricate plot from this game. As mentioned, with the exception of the main arc, everything is episodic–you don’t have to read much into them. Take them as they are, just like those ghost story specials on TV during Halloween. Is there room for more scares? Sure, but there’s also a charm in keeping things light.
One thing we wish is for the overworld to have more places where dimensions warp and play games with your head, similar to how interiors do so during missions. It’s a great, unsettling concept, and ups the challenge a little bit more (because things plateau easily once you’ve leveled up enough). Nevertheless, this title will have you stuck in your seat because its expansive map is almost addictive to explore, and in one way or another, it does make your dreams of being a paranormal detective come true.
Ghostwire: Tokyo launches on PC and PS5 on March 25. For more details, visit Bethesda’s website.