Ghostwire: Tokyo Gameplay Preview – Ghostbustin’
Ghostwire: Tokyo is a rare occurrence: a first-person shooter from Japan.
Although calling it a marksman seems a bit of a stretch, or maybe even a bit reductive. Given the complete absence of firearms – short of finger pistols. This means that Tango Gameworks’ latest game is unique from the start. Especially when compared to more popular Western shooters. Whether his anomalous combat will be fun enough to last the entire game remains to be seen. But after playing through the first two chapters of Ghostwire: Tokyo, the early promise is certainly there.
In Ghostwire: Tokyo, you play as a young student named Atiku Izuki,
who, by pure chance, is already dead. The game begins with the protagonist lying face down in the middle of the road. Having succumbed to injuries sustained in a fatal car accident at Tokyo’s famous Shibuya Crossing. He is then saved when a ghostly spirit known as K.K. fuses with his body, bringing him back to life. The unnatural alliance between the two grants Atiku supernatural powers that emanate from his fingertips. Which is perfect considering the rest of the people of Tokyo have been consumed by the evil mist that shrouds the entire city. Instead, evil spirits roam the streets of Shibuya, summoned here by a mysterious man in a Hannya mask
CC wants revenge on this hidden antagonist, but the question “Why?”
There is no answer in the first two chapters of the game. Atiku’s motives are more general, as his younger sister was kidnapped by the villain for nefarious purposes. It’s unclear if she’ll be anything more than an archaic damsel in distress. But, either way, the story hasn’t hooked me yet. However, there is potential in KK’s backstory and mysteries surrounding him, and I’m keen to reveal more. The banter between the two protagonists has also been a highlight so far. Their natural dialogue and budding relationship adding frivolity to the sometimes dark theme.
For the most part, though, history has taken a backseat to Ghostwire: the battles and exploration of Tokyo. With the phantom powers of KK coursing through his veins. Atiko is able to defeat Shibuya’s phantom invaders by firing magical projectiles from his fingertips. In the game’s lexicon, this is known as the Ethereal Weave, with each type using a different element such as wind, fire, or water. You start the game with the Weave of Wind, which allows you to hit enemies with fast blasts of air by pressing the fire button. On the other hand, holding the button down charges a more powerful shot, and if you deal enough damage to an enemy, their inner core will show up, allowing you to extract their wrong heart for an instant kill.
Your defensive options are limited to Block, which negates partial damage, and Perfect Block,
Requires precise timing to parry an attack and negate all damage. Battles can turn into chaos at times, especially when you’re fighting multiple types of enemies at the same time, so Atiko’s lack of agility sometimes feels like a hindrance. There are indicators to alert you when enemies are attacking from off-screen, but without a dodge or even a quick turn, all you have to do is turn around and hope you can block what’s coming towards you. It takes some getting used to, and I eventually learned to focus more of my energy on positioning, trying to keep each enemy in front of me.
By the end of Chapter 2, I had access to both the Weave of Fire and the Weave of Water. The former lets you shoot explosive fireballs that deal a lot of damage, but your spectral ammo for it is limited compared to other abilities at your disposal. Water Weaving is perfect for close combat, unleashing a horizontal stream of water comparable to a shotgun blast with its widespread. You also get access to a magical bow, which is useful when you want to take a stealthy approach, allowing you to silently shoot enemies from afar.
Combat becomes a lot more dynamic
As your arsenal starts to grow and you start thinking about what power is right for each situation. Atiko’s animation really sells the whole concept. His fingers are constantly flexing into different shapes, doing the finger gymnastics required to use these supernatural powers, and the feedback you get as you connect adds to the satisfaction. Ghostwire: Tokyo mixes Japanese folklore with modern touches, and this is especially evident in the design of the enemy. The ghosts you fight might be evil spirits, often based on yokai, but your attacks rip off those digital fragments that look like they’re made of LEDs. They are reminiscent of Tokyo, where the city’s modernity meets its past, and tall skyscrapers coexist with traditional Shinto shrines.
Exploring the city is an important part of Ghostwire:
Tokyo. After the linear introductory chapter, the open world of the game becomes available to you. Much of the city is still obscured by an ominous fog, so progress is limited until you can clear it by clearing the various Torii gates located throughout the city. You can visit mini markets run by enchanted talking cats where you can buy consumables like takoyaki, rice balls, and dangos to replenish your health. Shrines often have Omikuji that you can use to unlock your condition, giving you temporary buffs in combat, and you can even feed the stray dogs now roaming the city streets.
However, most of your time between story missions will be spent completing side quests.
Friendly spirits will ask you for help in solving various problems throughout Tokyo. For example, a young girl asks you to return her grandmother’s cherished umbrella after it turns into a youkai, and another spirit is troubled by the negative energy coming from the bathhouse. These side missions usually take no more than a couple of minutes to complete, and there isn’t much depth to them. Finding an object or defeating a few enemies is all they’re aiming for so far. From time to time, you will learn about various aspects of Japanese folklore, so hopefully, these side quests will develop and become more interesting in later chapters.
It took me six hours to get through the first two chapters of Tokyo:
Ghostwriter, talk about how much there is to see and do in this open world. Ideally, the side missions will improve enough to make them worthwhile, and I’m interested to see how combat develops as I unlock more of the Atiko skill tree. The story hasn’t captured me yet, but its mysteries are definitely intriguing and I’m curious to see how it all plays out.
Ghostwire: Tokyo releases March 25 on PS5 and PC.