Ghostwire Tokyo Review – Too Many Unknowns
Bethesda and Tango Gamework’s newest game and temporary PlayStation 5 exclusive has now released, and after 3 days of early access I have got a good feel of the game. Considering Bethesda is now owned by Microsoft, this may be one of the last games we see from them for PlayStation in a while. With that in consideration, does Ghostwire Tokyo deliver a strong experience?
A Story Without Depth
Ghostwire Tokyo throws you into the boots of Akito after a strange supernatural occurrence in Tokyo city. Everybody has strangely disappeared and the city is now inhabited by mysterious and supernatural threats. The premise of the story I feel is good and has a lot of entertainment potential. But in execution it is an absolute mess.
The story has so many plot points that have the potential to be very interesting, but there is little to no attempt to explain why anything is happening. And the points that are explained take a very long time to do so. What I mean by this is that a piece of information and a key part of the plot will be told in the first two acts, but not actually explained until the sixth. By that point you’ve already forgotten that happened. Narratively the game is a mess.
Connecting with Characters
And I want to talk about the characters as well as this applies to them as well. The only character you can really sympathise with is Akito. How he reacts to the situation is very realistic and you can really understand him and his motivations. I can’t say this for the rest of the characters though. Except maybe his sister Mari, but we don’t see much of her.
The main villain Hannya remains a really vague and ominous character for the whole story. It takes until the end of act 3 to find out his motivation, and even then, it is just really vague. It is a motivation I am sure many of us can understand, but there is no attempt to add any depth, explain how it happened, how he got to that point or make us feel for the character at all. I was left scratching my head at his actions at every point because of it. There is just no build-up of the villain at all.
The last character I want to mention is KK. You meet him right at the start and he is the one who gives you all of your powers. KK is a major character and will be with you for the whole game, but like with Hannya, his past and relationships are not built up well. You will learn a lot of key points about KK through the story, but most are either not used for anything or just not explained to an effective level.
There is a particular lack of characters as a whole, and with those that are present, it is a real struggle to connect with them.
Some Great Inspiration
What I did like about the story though was its look into Japanese folklore. All of the inspiration that was put into this game and story was done well. The enemy design, all of vendors, side missions and more all felt really well inspired, even though some of it falls flat.
I also want to mention, this game does at points try to hit that the horror genre, but it isn’t scary at all. Like not one bit. It’s an action adventure at best.
A Mix of Gameplay
Going to move onto the gameplay aspect now, starting with the magic. The spells you get access to are very fluent, flashy and simple. The straight forward mechanics of the magic aren’t a bad thing at all. Throughout the game I found the magic to be quite enjoyable. The problem I have with it though is that it is extremely limited. There are only three spells that you can get in the whole game, which are wind, fire and water. The spells are great but there definitely needs to be more than that.
There is a stealth aspect to this game, if you want to take it. It’s the boring option, but still makes the game easy. The enemies rarely spot you, even when you are right in the face. Sound does play a part into stealth, but the enemies must have really poor hearing because they almost never hear you. There were situations in this game where I would run right behind an enemy and they wouldn’t hear me. Same applies to sight as well. The stealth is just really easy, but mostly because the enemies are a bit dumb.
Just going to quickly mention the upgrading system. It is again very simple, and the upgrading options are very limited still. For example, with the gust/wind magic skill the only upgrades you can get are fire rate and the number of projectiles you fire in one charge. It is sad to see a game focused around magical combat be so limited in the options it actually gives you. The other upgrades aren’t that amazing either, most being focused around the speed at which you can absorb spirits or destroy enemy cores.
How the upgrading works is super straight forward as well. You can unlock different skills with a certain number of points, you get 10 points with every level up. Many skills will require you to gather three magatamas. These you just get from side missions and absorbing certain yokai. Not too difficult to do.
As a whole, this game is extremely easy. I played on normal mode and throughout the whole duration I only died twice, and even then, that was because I was messing around. There are a number of reasons why I felt this game was very easy. The first is because levelling up is super easy. The main ways you will be getting XP is by gathering spirits and doing side missions. Both of which can be found pretty much anywhere. You could enter your bathroom and find one spirit using the toilet, one brushing his teeth and the other in the shower. Everywhere you go, you will find spirits.
But the second reason why I think the game is super easy is because of the enemies. Don’t get me wrong I love the inspired design as mentioned earlier, but some of the enemy types are just incredibly weak. There are a few enemies here that keep you on your toes, but for the most part you won’t struggle at all. Most can be defeated with just a couple of hits and it is very easy to split up enemies and take them all one on one.
The bosses you encounter as well aren’t very difficult. There are 5 boss fights through the main story, 2 are essentially the same. And I did not struggle with any of these bosses at all. Their mechanics are very simple, easy to avoid and it is very easy to dish out a lot of damage. I do appreciate some of their designs and the arenas they take place in. But other than that, it is just very easy.
I want to go back to the side activities in this game as well. All of the side activities are extremely simple to do, but the sheer number of them is simply tedious. The main side activity you will need to do is the Torii gates. Throughout the map there are dozens of these gates and you need to cleanse them in order to unlock that section of the map. You are just doing the same thing over and over again and it is simply boring.
Entertaining Side Missions
The one side activity that I did enjoy though were the side missions. These aren’t related to the main story at all, but they were fun. They are short and get right to the point. Many are quite serious. For example, there is one where you need to go into the home of a hoarder and remove the spectre inhabiting it. And on the other hand, there are some incredibly goofy ones. With the most memorable certainly being a side mission where you have to fetch some toilet roll for a spirit haunting a public bathroom. Just a huge laugh.
There a few more points I want to quickly make. The currency is worthless. It is very easy to come by, but I never found a reason to use it. All of the consumables and ammunition needed, you can easily find throughout the world. You’ll almost never run out.
The open world here is also very basic. Though I do love the urban setting and dark theme, the world is ultimately let down by a lack of variety when it comes to activities and tedious objectives.
Performance wise I have no complaints. Through my whole playthrough I did not encounter any bugs or glitches. On the performance mode on PS5, I was getting consistent 60fps. Though there are multiple graphics and performance modes available that you can pick as you choose. I just chose 60fps as this was where I felt the game was smoothest while ensuring the graphics were still clean.
The only complaint I can think of from the top of my head about graphics is that some of the animals you encounter look like they have been pulled straight from a PlayStation 3 game.
Now onto the verdict. Ghostwire Tokyo had the potential to be great, but it misses the mark in a lot of areas. The story all around lacks depth. It is a struggle to connect and understand many of the characters you encounter, and many important explanations are missed out on. And combined with a tedious and rather basic open world, you don’t get a great experience.
Where this game does excel is its combat. Though it is extremely limited, there is a lot of enjoyment to be found in it. The side missions did not fail to entertain. Short missions that create some of the most memorable moments in the whole playthrough for me. And the inspiration that has gone into this game has created some really awesome and unique encounters.
Overall, I am going to give Ghostwire Tokyo a 5/10. I do not think Ghostwire Tokyo is a bad game at all, but it does certainly miss the mark or needs a bit extra in several areas. It balances in the state of mediocre. If you like open worlds and magic oriented games, you may find some enjoyment in this.