Ghostwire Tokyo scared us…but not for the right reasons

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It’s been nearly two and a half years since Ghostwire Tokyo was unveiled to much fanfare at the Bethesda E3 2019 conference, by the very playful Ikumi Nakamura. In the meantime, the arrival of a certain pandemic and the departure of the artistic director will necessarily have changed the situation. Without being able to walk the streets of the Japanese capital, we were finally able to discover Ghostwire Tokyo in action, a few months before its release.

After an absence that was slowly but surely beginning to be felt, we were finally able to approach the brand new license from Tango Gameworks, which Shinji Mikami himself describes as an action-adventure game rather than a horrific experience, which does not Didn’t prevent this presentation from scaring us… but not necessarily for the expected reasons.

At the crossroads

For those who have had the time to forget what it’s all about, remember that Ghostwire Tokyo puts us in the skin of Akito, a native of the Shibuya district who is given supernatural powers by an entity of the same caliber, the mysterious KK. While the streets of the capital have seen their inhabitants devoured by a thick fog inevitably, our hero must face a battery of spectral antagonists, and a battery of typically local yokais.

If Tango Gameworks has largely taken care to communicate on the mechanics and the atmosphere of the game, the scenario of Ghostwire Tokyo is still very mysterious, and we do not know what evil could have struck Akito’s sister so that she finds herself hospitalized. Our hero will however never stop wanting to come to his rescue, but for that he will have to confront Hannya, the antagonist who wears the mask of the same name, taken from the nō theater, and whose many tirades never cease to call for the creation of a new world. Atmosphere.

Talk to my hand

If the first trailers had largely made it possible to notice it, Ghostwire Tokyo plays the postcard of the Japanese game to the fullest. Scary, of course, but all the same: between the typical neon lights of Tokyo nights, the famous Shibuya crossroads and dozens of yokais, the game immerses us as much in the spirit of the island megalopolis as a title from Ryo Ga Gotoku Studio . Faithful to the polymorphic spirit of a country where many eras coexist, we quickly move from a district where karaokes alternate, love hotels and typical neighborhood police stations with an alley where cramped pavilions and tiled roofs follow one another.

But for the time being, the exploration of the various places proposed above all emphasizes the relative slowness with which our hero moves. Akito indeed seems to show a certain stiffness and despite a lack of grip, his movements are still unnatural, even if we briefly see his hands at the start of the race, as if to remind us that body awareness has one day existed. The same observation also applies during transitions, since a simple opening of doors projects us a few generations back, while our hero extends his frozen arm before a fade does the work of transition. Strange, especially since Ghostwire Tokyo is currently running on PC and PS5.

New Yokais

When he’s not exploring the remnants of a civilization vanished in a flash, Akito must defend himself dearly. We mentioned it: Ghostwire Tokyo cheerfully borrows from Japanese folklore its yokais and other monsters of rigor to serve as basic enemies. Here, the supernatural mixes cheerfully with the daily life of Tokyoites: during this first half hour of play, we were able to come across salarymen with torn umbrellas, office ladies adorned with kabuki masks, or headless schoolgirls who attack in groups. Charming.

The problem is that, like our survivor, the opponents still lack vigor. Would Shinji Mikami be nostalgic for a certain Killer7? Still, the whole appears to be quite wise for the time being, not to say a bit static. Here, Akito is content to fight thanks to a power borrowed from the classy Yusuke Urameshi, and which therefore allows him to fire a kind of spectral attack from his fingertips. The core appears after having lodged a few bullets in the body of these well-disciplined enemies, and all that remains is to compose a few mudras to see them disappear, and reload its ammunition on the way.

Reiko and colors

If the clashes are akin to a tutorial session for the time being, we can fortunately take advantage of really striking visual effects, which benefit as much from the typical neon lights of the capital as from an overlay of the paranormal to produce a visual cocktail that works rather well, not to mention the phases where the whole universe of Ghostwire Tokyo seems possessed. The violently flapping iron curtains or the brutal change of perspective to create surprise certainly have their little effect.

However, the plastic does not manage to make us forget a game design which seems to be more concerned with tradition than modernity, like this sequence which requires destroying several seals in order to escape a barrier, and completes us leave the impression of evolving in very small areas. But given the brevity of the presentation, many questions still arise, both on the possible contributions of the DualSense that we imagine potentially numerous in view of the movements of our character and on the skill tree very quickly between preview, and which we hope to soon discover in complete freedom.

You will have understood it: this first session of Ghostwire Tokyo will not have made it possible to answer all the questions that we could ask ourselves, nor frankly to reassure us about its proposal. If the atmosphere is certainly a success, the mechanics of gameplay suggest for the time being an adventure still largely perfectible, both in terms of its flexibility and its rhythm. Now expected for March 25 on PC and PS5, Ghostwire Tokyo will probably not have time to correct everything …

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