When this title was first announced back at E3 2019 I was so hyped. It touted the holy trifecta of gaming: spooky scary horror elements, spunky action-adventure and glorious cargo pants. Although what we ultimately ended up getting seemed to be in line with what we were hoping for. At the same time, as the game went on, I couldn’t help but feel worn down.
A Lack of Narrative Spirit
Ghostwire: Tokyo follows the lead character, Akito in his quest to rescue his sister, Mari from these Hannya mask-wearing ghost people. As they’ve begun turning the citizens of Tokyo into vengeful spirits for some unknown reason. Leaving behind just their shoes and the clothes off their backs, which is oddly hilarious. The story starts off quite well and quickly wraps the player into it’s mystery. But sooner or later, you’ll start to feel the narrative drag it’s own feet and watch as your investment into the character’s struggles tumbles off of a cliff somewhere.
The dynamics between Akito and his spirit/detective friend, KK are a highlight though and do provide for some decent banter throughout. I also think that the English and Japanese voice-acting both sound pretty good as well. If I had to choose between the two however, I would recommend the Japanese VO for authenticity’s sake. There’s a reason why it’s the default setting, but either dub should be suitable for most.
Aggressively Pointing at Enemies
When it comes to the gameplay, Ghostwire: Tokyo is all about quelling evil spirits with grace. Channelling the slickest of Avatar: The Last Airbender movements into different forms of projectiles. In battle, wind is the common rapid-fire attack, while fire acts as an explosive which deals more damage. Each of the three available elements can be charged for extra effectiveness too, and it always feels so satisfying to sock a ghost with one of these attacks.
There are also talismans you can use to inflict status effects like paralysis, and a limit break ability that recharges your magic while making it super easy, barely an inconvenience to rack up kills. The combat system is fun at first, but in a similar vein to the story, battles start to run out of legs mighty fast.
The enemy variance and AI is quite flat as well. It just gets too repetitive, too soon, as the combat remains virtually the same from beginning to end. Bar a few handy upgrades like explosion distance and quicker casting. A dodge ability also would’ve helped to avoid the barrage of kicks and flying whatzits the enemies try to bonk you with. Especially for the bosses, it just does not feel right trying to run around while avoiding long-reaching types of attacks. I mean, they can jump around. Why can’t I?
The Spooky World of Ghostwire: Tokyo
But in all seriousness, the open-world elements do freshen up the gameplay a tad, even though they can become quite dull themselves. For starters, parts of the map are blocked off with damage-inducing fog until a nearby Torii gate’s destroyed. So have fun with that. Akito however, can grapple up to these gargoyle-like creatures for extra verticality. And since he’s already dead, you can jump all the way down from a tall building without any fear of fall damage. Might be even quicker than the fast travel itself!
Side missions are mostly just go-fetch quests and short, wacky scenarios where the player needs to capture a Yokai or… help a ghost find some toilet paper. Classic – big Majora’s Mask vibes there. The main tasks involve taking down bosses, investigating buildings for clues and these timed barrier deactivation sections which will trap Akito after a short while. These moments specifically could’ve gotten really annoying like basically everything else in this game, but they don’t overstay their welcome for once. The big tribal drum and cyberpunk-styled music don’t hurt either.
Strolling around the deserted, rain-soaked streets of Tokyo often looks truly picturesque. While the horror-inspired enemy designs and reality-bent, warped imagery make the world of Ghostwire: Tokyo really stand out. That being said, it’s not the greatest in terms of graphical fidelity. They definitely could have made this run on PS4. But the amount of graphical options for high-end PCs is pretty in-depth. This includes 4K support, ray tracing, DLSS & TSR for NVIDIA cards, alongside FSR for AMD users.
If you’re in the mood for a decent open-world, action-adventure game with a couple of horror elements thrown in for good measure, then maybe. Even though Ghostwire: Tokyo is a relatively short experience – around 15 hours or so – it can’t help but overstay it’s welcome. Almost every aspect of the game either feels very repetitive or just outright uninteresting in the worst of cases. There are some fun moments to be had for sure, although is it worth digging through several trenches to find? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on PC
Ghostwire: Tokyo features a tried and tested triple-A design approach, but the gameplay and story just won’t hold your interest for long. Battles turn into mindless spam fests, the open-world design elements become tiresome and the narrative loses it steam shortly after the first few hours. I ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but the thought of playing this game again gives me pause.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Bethesda. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.