Ghostwire: Tokyo first impressions: Exploring the haunted streets of Shibuya

Bethesda /

What do you think that Ghostwire: Tokyo is? Do you know? Neither did I. Honestly, after their E3 announcement several years ago, all I knew of the game was that people in Japan disappeared and our main guy walks around with a wicked smoky birthmark on his face. Tango Gameworks and Bethesda were nice enough to send a bit of the game our way so we can get a feel for what Ghostwire: Tokyo is and I have to tell you, it’s nothing like what I expected.

So we know by the trailer that our main man, Akito is fighting all kinds of Japanese folklore baddies after they take over the city with the help of his spiritual hitchhiker KK and after beginning the game we find that this was all started by a guy in a seriously cool Hannya mask. Hannya Mask also kidnaps Akito’s sister (for REASONS) Mari, starting our protagonist on a search for family. The hero searching for their lost family is a pretty standard trope. Hell, we just saw it in Dying Light 2 Stay Human and KIND OF in Horizon: Forbidden West. If the story isn’t going to make Ghostwire: Tokyo stand out, it’s going to have to be the meat and potatoes of this game: the graphics and the mechanics.

The city looks great…I mean REALLY great. I did a little Google Earthing and decided to see how close the game actually looks to the nighttime map and it’s spot on. My husband comes from an Asian city similarly set up to Tokyo with the big lights, tall buildings and shadowy alleyways that usually have a restaurant hidden with food so good it would bring a tear to your eye. The moral here is that he took one look at the Shibuya skyline and he missed home. THAT’S good environmental graphics. The people seem a bit more unsettling in the mouth area but teeth and hair are some of the hardest things to animate. Show me a game with incredible hair and teeth and I’ll show you The Last of Us.

The movement feels a little intense at first. It’s first person, so if you have motion sickness, you may want to lower that sensitivity or take a Dramamine before playing. However, comparative to my experiences with games like The Outer Worlds (which I adore), I can play Ghostwire: Tokyo a lot longer without that nauseous feeling creeping up on me. I would say that is a good sign. The combat system feels really smooth. I like that there doesn’t seem to be any gore and blood and guts are replaced with flashy lights and colors. SO FLASHY! The haptic feedback on the Dualshock seems pretty engaged which is a big of a surprise. Most games don’t take advantage of the current gen controllers, so it’s pretty refreshing.

I got to play Chapter 1 and 2 but I truly don’t want to ruin the experience because exploring and discovering, I will argue, is the best part of a video game. HOWEVER, your very first mission in this mad, mad, mad world that Hannya Mask has created is to go find your sister. Cool. Your sis is in the hospital which on its own is inherently creepy. The first mission is always the training mission, so I didn’t expect too many enemies. I expected a lot of exposition and getting a feel for the movement and combat styles. What I didn’t expect was just how creepy this game is. I guess that’s on me because why wouldn’t a game about spirits and demons be creepy? But Tango must have learned some reality bending tricks from Layers of Fear because this hospital will be your next nightmare setting. Just sayin’.

It would seem to me that Ghostwire: Tokyo pulled a Chiefs at the Super Bowl move and saved it all right until release time and then BAM: creepy atmosphere, smooth mechanics and beautiful graphics. I know there will be an update that will improve some settings that doesn’t lay out some instructions as it should but truly, I never had any issues figuring out what to do. The game doesn’t seem hard, it just seems very atmospheric.

If you like early 2000’s Japanese horror, then I think you will dig this game a lot. If you liked Doom Eternal’s combat, you will probably like Ghostwire: Tokyo. If you like just meandering around Japan at night in an empty city, stealing food left on tables and petting dogs, then you will really like this game. I can’t wait to dig in more and really explore the haunted streets of Shibuya. Pre-order your copy before its release on March 25th!