GhostWire: Tokyo Gameplay Preview Impressions

Remember that time in 2019 when Tango Gameworks took the stage at E3 (RIP) and announced GhostWire: Tokyo? Since it was announced, we’ve heard very little about the game, only getting a few glimpses here and there. Thankfully, Bethesda and Tango have finally pulled the curtain aside and invited The Outerhaven and alongside other outlets to see the game in action. After showing us close to a good forty minutes of gameplay footage, it’s safe to assume Tango Gameworks might have something really cool on their hands.

The Story so Far:

In GhostWire: Tokyo, you play as Akito, a young man living in Tokyo when a mysterious fog has engulfed the city, consuming every living person in its path. While the gameplay preview didn’t go into how Akito survives the fog, we do know that he has been fused with a Spirit Hunter by the name of KK. Though it seems KK has his own intentions, along with his help, Akito will be able to fight back the invading yokai as he hunts down the truth to save Tokyo and his hospitalized sister from the man in the Hannya mask.

I’d like to talk a bit more about the story but there isn’t much to say here. The preview avoided spoilers in almost every regard. If it wasn’t for the game’s director, Kenji Kimura giving us the lowdown of the plot, I wouldn’t have even been able to tell you the above information. I greatly respect that though, as it’ll be nice to learn these details when I’m finally playing the finalized product. However, as of yesterday, Tango and PlayStation released an official showcase, providing us with a lot more details about the game. Some of which you’ll also read about below.

An In-Depth Look at Combat:

The preview took place in the beginning moments of the game and we got to see quite a bit of combat and explored a bit of the city. GhostWire is played from a first-person perspective and Akito utilizes a form of mystic arts known as “Ethereal Weaving” to harness the elements and do battle with a wide variety of Yokai. While Weaving, Akito forms hand signs in order to blast away evil spirits, form seals, and exorcise haunted locations. If players can expose an enemy’s core, Akito can grab hold of it using a wire (a spiritual version of Cyberpunk’s Monowire) and shatter the core to finish them off.

Another approach players can take is stealth. On lesser spirits, players can deliver a devastating blow that defeats them in one shot. With the use of Akito’s “Spectral Vision”, players can tag enemies in the world and use it to get the upper hand on evil spirits. I noticed in a trailer that enemies might be able to survive stealth attacks though it remains to be seen. A third option for combat is a bow and arrow, which Akito unlocks while trying to destroy a barrier. The barrier threatens to crush the building he is in and the bow helps with nabbing those hard-to-reach cores that fuel the barrier. Using the bow, players can charge up arrows to deliver deadly headshots for a quieter opener.

Players can also deflect attacks but it’s unclear just how much these abilities can be expanded on, however. The gameplay preview didn’t really go into that territory, though we did see Akito upgrade his “Spectral Vision” at one point. There was a quick glimpse at the skill trees but they did not look very extensive. More abilities have been showcased in the trailers and we got to see some really cool-looking moves in yesterday’s official showcase. It’s also worth mentioning that experience can from completing side content as well as destroying corrupted objects so it’s nice to know monsters aren’t your only source of income as far as leveling up is concerned.

GhostWire: Tokyo - Combat 2
<span style=font size 12px color #808080>Go on Grab it Grab the core Images provided by Tango Gameworks & Bethesda Softworks<span>

Spirit Hunting and its Side Hustles:

GhostWire: Tokyo isn’t all blasting away with your spiritual finger guns and ethereal monowires. Akito comes across the spirit of an old woman who is still bound to this realm. Her Zashiki-warashi has disappeared and she would like it back before she leaves. Zashiki-warashi are said to be childlike yokai that bring good fortune (or bad luck) to those living in the households they possess, though they do like to perform pranks. The old woman is convinced that her landlord stole it and she tasks Akito with retrieving it and gives him a treat to help Akito coax it out of hiding.

Akito ventures into the house and with the use of his “Spectral Vision”, which also helps guide him, he quickly locates the storage room where Zashiki-warashi are said to live in families’ homes. Upon entering the room, he discovers the twisted and corrupted spirit of the landlord. KK suggest he had gotten himself killed and that Akito exorcise him. The player then creates a simple seal by drawing a straight line connected to the inside of a circle. Properly executing the seal causes Akito to mimic the action, exorcising the landlord allowing him to easily rescue the little Yokai. Returning her to the old woman allows her to move on and players receive a reward from the Zashiki-warashi.

Another side activity seems to include absorbing human spirits with the use of human-shaped dolls known as “Katashiro” and taking them to payphones located around Tokyo. Doing this sends them outside of the city and KK assures Akito that doing this will return them to normal. Players can also destroy corrupted trees with their bow and then there’s the fog. The fog is still consuming the city as you play and while KK actively warns Akito about against venturing into it, purifying the Torii gates will push it back, opening up more of Tokyo for players to explore. Torii gates are located all over the city and act as a sort of “Tower mechanic”. On one hand, I do like the way Tango has worked the threat of the fog into the game and on the other, it’s a harder pill to swallow.

Tango Gameworks - GhostWire: Tokyo - Environment 2
<span style=color #808080 font size 12px>In Tokyo demonic invasions mean you can leave your clothes in the streets Images provided by Tango Gameworks & Bethesda Softworks<span>

Tokyo at Night:

The setting is easily my favorite part of GhostWire. The game is set in modern-day Tokyo with this unique blend of Japanese folklore and modern-day technology. The bright lights of Tokyo and the use of technology for spirit hunting make for a cool aesthetic. I also really like the futuristic feel of Akito, with the lines that pulsate up his hands and the way his wire glows. His attacks decimate spirits, leaving behind visual markers to showcase damage done to them. It’s all really cool to look at.

During the barrier portion of the presentation, underworld corruption was affecting the housing Akito was going through. These areas are known as “Utena Spaces” and they’re areas where reality begins to blend in with the underworld. During the presentation, the corruption would race across the walls and act as a sort of trail for the player to follow. As Akito closed in on the barrier’s cores, the stronger the corruption got, causing it to have a larger effect on the rooms. One room was upended completely and placed on its side, forcing Akito to climb upward using the furniture. During a trailer that took place before the gameplay began, we saw some really intense Utena spaces as well.

Another detail that is worth noting is that Tokyo will have a sense of verticality to it as well. At one point in the presentation, Akito notices something flying in the sky, prompting KK to introduce the Tengu. These winged little creatures work as anchor points for Akito to grapple onto and quickly travel to rooftops. As he reaches the top, he quickly takes out an evil spirit using his bow from afar and then safely cleanses a Torii gate before accessing a laptop which allows him to upgrade his “Spectral Vision”. Akito also jumps off the roof, glides for a moment, finally landing on to the ground without receiving any fall damage. None of that is explained so… moving on.

GhostWire: Tokyo - Environment 3
<span style=font size 12px color #808080>Oh No thank you Im just going to grow it out Images provided by Tango Gameworks & Bethesda Softworks<span>

I Want it Now:

While there are plenty of things I liked seeing in the preview, my feelings for GhostWire: Tokyo is that I’m still on the fence. A lot of what makes me hesitant about the game is the game’s combat. Combined with the first-person perspective, it was hard to avoid the feeling that I’m looking at a VR game. The slow pacing and the minimal amount of movements from the player. With that being said though, that could be due to the fact that it was a preview. There are a lot of cool little details that went into animating the attacks and it was easier to pick up on those due to the slow nature of the preview. I’m sure experienced gamers will be all over the place in no time.

Otherwise, It’s a rather interesting concept. Despite its rather barren vibe, the modern-day aesthetic is one of the highlights of GhostWire. While Akito relies on more ancient and spiritual methods to deal with Tokyo’s demonic invasion, Tokyo is a city that exists in the present day. As technology has progressed, so has the means of hunting spirits and protecting the world. The fusion of Japanese folklore and modern technology definitely stood out. Another fun detail I noticed is that clothes and other accessories litter the streets, a sign where the residents of Tokyo once stood. However, I will say, I was not impressed by the evil spirits presented in the preview. Although, it’s only fair to mention that I also really loved the various Yokai shown in the trailers and the official showcase. Oh! You can also pet dogs and buy items from cat-like Yokai as well!

For what it’s worth, the preview shown at the press event and the public’s official showcase helped build up my interest in the game. While I’m not wildly hyped up, I feel much more confident in the final product. It looks like it’s going to be a solid game with a really great setting. Tango might also be offering some unique twists on dated gameplay mechanics as well. Only time will tell though and we’ll see when the GhostWire: Tokyo launches on March 25th, 2022.

GhostWire: Tokyo has timed console exclusivity and will release on PS5 and PC.