Ghostwire: Tokyo REVIEW (PS5)
Developed: Tango Gameworks
Published: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Role Play Action Adventure
Release Date: March 25th,2022
*Review copy provided by Bethesda Softworks
Ghostwire: Tokyo is an open world action adventure role playing game that is developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda Softworks. After three years of waiting, the game has finally arrived. But is it the game we were hoping it would be? or is it case of Tango getting a little too ambitious for their own good? Only one way to find out, so lets go! Story:
Tokyo is overrun by deadly supernatural forces, perpetrated by a dangerous occultist, causing Tokyo’s population to vanish in an instant. Ally with a powerful spectral entity on their quest for vengeance and master a powerful arsenal of abilities to unravel the dark truth behind the disappearance as you face the unknown. Can the madness be stopped or is it far too late to save humanity.
As stated before, Ghostwire: Tokyo is an open world action adventure RPG game, but what I didn't tell you is just how dark and eerie the game's setting actually is. Spooky, eerie, a little bit messed up, yes, this describes not only Ghostwire in general, but the many works of the director Shinji Mikami as well. This is the darkest game he's worked on since Aladdin and Goof Troop. I mean, Resident Evil and Evil Within, that's what I meant guys. Knowing this right off the bat will set the tone for the rest of the game due to every part of the core game itself, with its characters and gameplay mechanics, directly tying into the theme of horror and the unknown. As you begin your game, you take the reigns of a man named Akito who is on his way to see his sick sister at a local hospital. Waking up from having been knocked out, Akito looks around to see everyone in the district of Shibuya gone, like they just up and vanished. All that's left is their shoes and clothes, no sign of anyone's bodies. Maybe it's me being weird, but the first thing I thought of when seeing this scene was ''Omg, CELL is in this game, he's back'', but of course no, this isn't Dragon Ball Z, so he definitely cannot be in this. While trying to come to grips with what's going on around him, he hears a combative voice in his head and notices a strange black mist seeping from his hand and face. It is a spirit named KK, he has forcefully taken over Akito's body because he needs it as a vessel in order to stop a man named Hannya, who is the one causing all this mess. After some back and forth between the two not getting along and Akito beating himself up like he's Jim Carrey in Me, Myself and Irene, they call a truce. They have the same goal, stop Hannya. With the truce made, KK lends Akito his power of the Ethereal Weaving.
After this brief introduction of Akito and KK, Akito says he will only help KK if gets to go to the hospital to make sure his sister is ok, reluctantly KK agrees. But before you can get set on your way, a mysterious thick white fog covers the surrounding area, wiping from existence anyone that it touches and engulfs. Emerging from the fog are supernatural beings known as Visitors. Beings that take and devour peoples souls to bring them to the underworld. It is here where you start learning the games overall mechanics, ones that you will use through the entirely of your 12-15 hour story campaign, 30 plus hours if you choose to complete all the side content this game has to offer, but more on that in a minute. As you're approached by Slenderman cosplayers who come devour your soul... huh? what?, No I was being serious, well more so in the Slenderman comparison, not the cosplayers remark, these enemies literally have no face and wear a suit just like Slenderman, its the most obvious comparison. When the slendermen approach you, its time to wield your Ethereal Weaving and take the fight to them. Using L2 to lock onto an enemy for better accuracy, you can press or hold down R2 for quick shots in succession or charged attacks that will do varied damage based off which element you have equipped, with those elements being Wind, Water, Fire. All we need now is Earth and Heart and we can just call Captain Planet to come deal with all this crap for us. But then again, there's a bunch of red and black demon goo all over the place, so he'd probably just cry like a pansy ''rahhh its making me weak''. What a loser. But.. anyways.
Sounds rather basic doesn't it? well I can assure you, its anything but that and a lot of the time when utilizing your Ethereal Weaving, you will be strategizing the proper way to use it in combat and the multiple ways you can use it to your advantage when going against multiple foes. For example, should you be finding yourself getting overwhelmed by scissor wielding crazy Visitors, headless school girls, Slenderman looking copies or even big tubby burly visitors, feel free to open up your skill tree. Opening up this skill tree will give you access to even more ways to upgrade and strengthen your already potent weaving, as well as your other secondary abilities like improving the distance of your Spectral Vision, an ability that allows you to see hidden paths, follow ghosts to a destination, read the thoughts of silly doggos, or find items that specifically relate to your objective. But if you aren't here to level your Spectral vision, sneak speed for better one hit kill melee's, HP restoration with core grabs, then feel free to upgrade the stats for Ethereal Weaving with upgrades that consist of faster attack speed, bigger radius for impacts with using water and fire elements, piercing ammo to go through one or two enemies, and fire more than one shot at a time. All of these will be key your success going forward as you gain Exp and rank up your character. Man. This does not even begin to cover the rest of the mechanics in the game, but we'll have to save those for just a little bit longer so I can touch base more on the story.
As you and KK arrive at the hospital, you notice everything is amiss, even the hospital has been completely over ran by Visitors. This is when the game gets even more creepy. Moving through the hospital in order to make it to your sister Mari's room, the atmosphere starts to set in, its dark, barely any light is on, and you start getting weird hallucinations. The walls are shifting, the room's and hallways change, chairs that once blocked a hallway, now they changed in a blink of an eye. You even see Sephiroth at the end of a gloomy hallway on the outside of the door with fire burning. Pretty cool, I didn't know he was in this. Oh wait that's not Sephiroth, that's just some little demon girl wanting inside to devour my soul. Oh ok. Arriving in Mari's room, you see the masked man known as Hannya once again in your path, he tells you his plan is to use your sister as a vessel for his overall goal. What goal? why is he even doing this? You see, his goal is to bring back his dead wife and daughter by merging our world with the underworld and create a brand new paradise.
Having already sacrificed 100 thousand souls, his goal is almost complete. As both Akito and KK get angry and go in for the attack, other masked people then appear and lock Akito in chains, holding him captive. It's the Akatsuki. I'm a big fan. I wonder if I can guess which one is Itachi or Orochimaru?. Ok now it's not really them, but every time I see people in masks, its all I think of. While chained and after getting Yamcha'd through the stomach by Hannya's hand. You aren't dead, just knocked out. After you wake up in a flower bed and have a heart to heart talk with KK and ask him to save your sister, you go off and cleanse shrines to unlock main story objectives, Use a phone booth like bill and ted to talk to Mister Ed in order to transfer saved souls outside Hannya's barrier so they can be resurrected, no not THAT mister Ed, he isn't a talking horse, then proceed to head to KK's house to find a specific item he needs for your mission and in the process finding an old case file called ''The Sewer Kid'' that tells about kids disappearing near manholes. Um.. either the Ninja Turtles have gone nuts that their pizza took longer than 30 minutes or Penny Wise has come to Tokyo. But enough story for a moment, let's get back into some more of the gameplay as we still have quite a bit to cover. No exaggeration here.
As I was talking about earlier, your main forms of attack comes down to Ethereal Weaving. But that doesn't mean there isn't other forms of attacking or defending. Should you get into a really frustrating fight versus multiple enemies, if you time a block with L1 at the right exact moment, you will be able to counter their attack and block it completely, negating any and all damage to you. But what if you're just a wuss and are too scared to do anything like the Stoop Kid from Hey Arnold? well you big baby, they have you covered as well with sneak attacks. Sneaking behind enemies offers you a one hit kill on nearly every enemy you encounter and it can make for some pretty intense moments as you duck and hide behind cars, dressers, desks, trying not to make a single peep. Whether you're shooting enemies with weaving and revealing their core so that you may use a ethereal cord to rip it out of them for an instant kill or getting up close and personally with a melee attack with R3 to push them away or a one hit sneak kill, you will always be rewarded with SP to use for your attacks, Meika, which is your currency for purchases and EXP to raise your synergy level. Synergy level? huh, what's that you ask? well I did tell you this was a role playing game, so obviously you're going to have a level up mechanic, ya big silly. This is actually self explanatory. Want to level up? defeat enemies, complete side quests and be victorious in your main scenario missions. See simple huh?. So ''yeah yeah'' you say, ''so we know how to attack, know about blocking, sneaking, how to level up with synergy, how to level up our skill trees, learned about cleansing temples by absorbing their energy, some story of events unfolding, how to use spectral vision, but WHAT ABOUT THE OPEN WORLD'' *FLIPS DESK*. Holy crap are you nuts? we were just getting to that. Geez. Ok Ok. Again like I stated previously, this game is open world and its pretty vast with lots of fun stuff to do and some.. uhh.. non fun things to do.
As you explore this great looking map with its Silent Hill like atmosphere, you'll be able to take part in multiple events or rather things to do in your time. Go and search for Doggo's or Tanuki's and use your Spectral Vision on them to read their minds. Once you read their mind, if its a good boy doggo, they will lead you to a side quest objective item, a Jizo statue to pray at which raises your stats or digs you up money. However, should you find a Tanuki, you will unlock a side quest to go find the rest of his friends, its extremely silly and a bit absurd, but overall It's a pretty fun time. When you are not being silly and talking to dogs and diseased Tanuki's, you're able to pretty much go where you want, well within reason that is. The further you move across the map, the more white mist fog you come across, should you happen to wander into it, you will immediately start taking damage and should you stay in it too long, you will die. Think of the out of bounds ring in a game like Fortnite and then you have a rough idea of what this feels like. Dying from fog is pretty embarrassing though, just like wiping out in Tomato Town. Other side objectives that you can do for Exp or magatama to unlock different skills, are to seek out Visitors that are absorbing energy from trapped souls in magical floating boxes. This will set you on a time limit where you must defeat all enemies in the area before the souls are drained and sent to the underworld, you can also unlock shrines using Naruto hand signs by using your right stick to mimic the direction on screen, Pray at alters for special wishes of where to find more statues, refill SP and health, do side missions for floating kitties that give you side objectives to complete and will reward you with Meika, traverse the world easier using shrines for fast travel and grappling Tengu birds in the sky while holding X to fly and glide through the skies above, and even punch a random exploding barrel like me and destroy the world. Huh? no I'm joking. Sorta.
Once you step back into the story after goofing around in the open world, you learn of one of KK's old friends, Rinko, now dead, is refusing to leave this world till she fulfills what's keeping her soul trapped and that she wants to help you, although, KK doesn't really trust her that much. Find and defeat the henchmen of Hannya, which results in some really awesome boss fights with a werewolf looking monster, a weird as hell looking dog lady that involves you playing hide and seek with her till you rip out cores from her tail, a gigantic acid spitting spider, etc. Then as you uncover more of Hannya's purification process that involves his own dead wife and daughter, you weirdly stumble upon thousands of Visitors flying up from a hole in the ground using umbrellas. Um what? I mean it's cool and all, but Mary Poppins did it better, just saying. The further you push and the more despair Akito goes through trying to save his sister, you ultimately learn, you're too late, Hannya at this point has won. Using your sister as a vessel, he unleashes its power, summoning forth gigantic kaiju like monsters who further reign destruction and death upon the world. Now with Hannya taking your sister once more, both Akito and KK decide, enough. It's time to end it, even if they die trying. Finally catching him and confronting him, you beat him in a decisive battle, which if I'm going to be honest, was very underwhelming compared to other bosses in the game. Just shoot masks on his back and sides a few times, pull out his cores and... that's it. Takes five minutes. Then uhh, that's the ball game folks. The ending is a great wrap up though, which I'll get into in a second because.. you know what time it is. Yup. I got to state what I didn't like about this title because no game is perfect.
While I've stated a ton of positive things about Ghostwire, its not without its issues, some being bigger problems and others just being small ones really. One of the first things I found that I didn't like were the trailing missions using Spectral Vision. In these missions you use your vision to see where a spirit is heading and you move at a snail pace over and over, it took some of the fun out of the game for me as I'm not a fan of that mechanic in other games. When unlocking a new area on your map, you are able to unlock new objectives and special interests in that area, however, when they pop up on your map, they all come up one by one and it takes forever. You can't move your cursor or exit out, you have to sit and wait for it to finish with like seven or eight different unlocks. They really should've unlocked all at once. Another gripe is when forming hand signals to unlock souls or specific doors, its not always completely accurate and the right stick doesn't always register right away, causing you to fail and retry two or three times before it functions, smaller gripe I know, but it still annoyed me. Lastly, my final two gripes were my biggest ones. First one involving the end game filler and padding the game tends to do, instead of just letting you go to the end level like you want, and unfortunately, you're sent on an exhilarating quest to go find gas, oil and a turbine wheel, oh how I jumped for joy. Woo. But the biggest gripe I had involved game play sections that had you playing solo without powers as Akito. These missions take place every time KK gets dragged out of your body and it happens FAR too much, so much in fact that it starts feeling like it was done on purpose to make the game seem longer. It comes at the most abrupt times and completely ruins the pacing with mini games that involve you throwing knives at Visitors to stop them from killing KK. I absolutely did not like these and verbally groaned when they occurred.
At the end of the day, Ghostwire: Toyko is an extremely fun game, but also really spooky at the same time. Whether its walking through dark hallways and seeing the shadows of Visitors stalking you, enemies without heads and deformities rushing and screaming at you, abstract and shape shifting walls that blurs the lines of what's real and fake, the atmosphere is one hundred percent Shinji Mikami's vision and I fell in love with the tone and theme of the game and world. Sure it isnt perfect at all with pacing issues, boring solo levels, unresponsive barrier unlocks, tedious trailing missions, but with its addicting ethereal weaving combat, great and even terrifying enemy variety, dark and nightmare like atmosphere, plethora of meaningful quests to do, tons of unlockable skills, and awesome characters - Ghostwire: Tokyo ultimately gives us a great story about life, death, loss, forgiveness and acceptance. To me when concentrating on its underlying themes that all come together at the end of the game, it makes for a story that was beautifully told. If you have a PS5 and PC, I cannot recommend this one enough, even with its downsides, Its fantastic. So with all this stuff having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW