Ghostwire: Tokyo was one of the most interesting titles I’ve played all year. The story begins rather plainly, with protagonist Akito riding his motorcycle through Shibuya traffic in order to see his sister in the hospital (I didn’t think it could start off any more tragic either). As this is happening, a spirit is flying over the intersection where Akito gets his by a car, rendering him unconscious.
The spirit, KK, takes over his body and makes Akito completely invulnerable to a sort of spirit fog that spreads and takes the lives of everyone in Shibuya. KK grants Akito special powers to help him fight enemies and rid Shibuya of the fog, but Akito manages to convince KK to spend a moment going to the hospital where his sister is in a coma. This is where the rest of the game takes off as you find out that a man in a mask has been plotting to use your unconscious sister, who was also not taken by the spirit fog, in some sort of ritual.
I absolutely loved the game, but it was not without faults that were hard to overlook. And so, I’d like to give you my review for what I think is one of the most mundanely beautiful games I have ever played.
An Absolutely Gorgeous Environment
Ghostwire: Tokyo takes place in Shibuya, and features most of its beautiful architecture and general street layout. Even though there are virtually no NPCs in the game as a result of the fog, the world still feels as though you’ve been transported to the city. I didn’t take the time to see if any of the advertisements, restaurants, or other in-game marketing was real, but it’s clear that the development team took their time to ensure that players were immersed in what the city would look like to the average person walking around.
It was a ton of fun to be able to walk through well-known alleys and social areas as well as through neighborhoods and cemeteries while also being on the lookout for spiritual enemies and collectible items. Even the clothes on the floor that symbolized where people stood when the fog turned them into spirits tell stories of what those people were doing in their every-day lives.
One of my favorite parts about the environment was the attention to detail within the homes that you were able to enter. Most areas aren’t able to be entered, save for the few that can be as a result of an objective. Inside of these homes, you can see how the people who once inhabited them lived; how they kept their living spaces, what they were eating, the decorations that they’ve put up in their rooms. There were far too many moments that forced me to stop and take a look at everything around me before I could move forward.
Complex and Uninteresting Story
While I very much enjoyed the gameplay and atmosphere of Ghostwire: Tokyo, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by the story. Yes, it’s definitely there; and the secondary protagonist, KK, is there to help you through it. However, I felt like I lost sight of why I was doing certain things as I was playing. I was so caught up in the secondary objectives and searching for other things to really remind me about the story.
By the time everything was beginning to wrap up, and I felt that the game’s climax was nearing, I still didn’t know what was going on. After poring over Wikipedia pages, I chalked it up to the story just not being as fluid or interesting as it could have been. I didn’t finish it with any feeling of completion, and more than anything wanted to be able to return to the map to go over the things that I had missed before finishing up the story.
In many cases, the different side quests that were available provided me with more serotonin than the entire story. I found myself much more interested in helping the citizens with their yokai problems or searching for different yokai to earn magatama’s from. Knowing that I would get more of these sort of quests ended up being my real motivation to move forward in the story.
No Replay Value
Ghostwire: Tokyo is not unlike most other first-person narratives out there. In fact, I would compare it to just about any of the most modern-day ones in terms of UI design and general gameplay. That being said, once everything has been collected or completed, there is no reason to return to this version of Shibuya. The end just felt very closed and when all things were complete, Ghostwire: Tokyo really only became a world for creating screenshot content for the community.
I also felt that there really wasn’t much that alluded to a potential for a sequel, though that doesn’t mean that there might not be one. Again, the game didn’t really motivate me to keep it on my PC after having finished it, meaning that I really have no intention on diving back in any time soon.
Fun Collectibles and Extra Content
The collectibles in Ghostwire: Tokyo come in the form of relics that can be found all over the city. You can speak with the different Nekomata’s across the map who can provide you with a list of different relics you can collect as well as where to find them. Finding and bringing back these relics will grant you money that you can use to purchase new outfits, music, and emotes. Finding all of the relics will also grant you different rewards as well.
Even though the game is played in first-person, the outfits are still fun to collect and switch out from time to time. There is even a simple-to-use photo mode that makes collecting new outfits and other photo mode rewards even more worth your while.
The relics that you can find don’t have much to do with the story, but do provide context to some of Japan’s most well known day-to-day items. Tons of these items include statues, instruments, articles of clothing, and more that include a small synopsis on what it is and what is its representation in Japanese. If you’re a fan of Japanese culture, then these relics were fun to find and read about in order to strengthen your cultural knowledge.
Ghostwire: Tokyo – A Mesmerizing Trip Through a Haunted City, But One That’s Over Too Soon
Ghostwire: Tokyo is among the few first-person narrative games that I really connected with. While it was a beautiful and smooth experience, it failed to really captivate and keep me playing beyond the ending. It could be that I collected everything and completed all of the side quests as I was playing, but it feels like I ended up punishing myself at the end by doing that.
Hopefully, this is an experience that will extend itself to some sort of a sequel of spin-off, as the concept and gameplay were ones that I would love to revisit. Considering that developers Tango Gameworks were also a part of Hi-Fi Rush and The Evil Within, I’m confident that whatever could come next would be a great improvement and innovation on an already great game and concept.
This game was reviewed on PC.