I ain’t afraid of no Ghostwire…
Ghostwire: Tokyo is the second, and last, of Bethesda’s PS5 console exclusives that were promised before they were bought by Microsoft. The paranormal tale of one of the most recognisable cities in the world becoming suddenly deserted has piqued a lot of interest since its reveal, and the release date certainly shocked a few with how soon it was when it got announced. We’ve had hands on with the first two chapters of the game, and it’s here that I’ll be running you through our thoughts, and whether it’s one to keep on the radar when it launches in just under a fortnight.
You play as Akito, following a mysterious event that’s caused everyone in Tokyo to disappear from the physical realm in a flash. A thick fog surrounds the playable area, damaging you if you dare move into an area you’re not ready for yet. To add to the mystique, Akito has had his soul linked with KK, a former cop whose spirit is roaming free at the start of the game. Akito was the unfortunate victim of a car accident shortly before the spooky apocalypse came and left piles of clothes strewn across downtown Tokyo.
KK has a set of abilities which allow Akito to shoot various ethereal beams from his fingers. In the early going, you’re given a “Wind” skill, which fires neon green bolts from your hands, but these are backed up by a water based attack and a really powerful fire based move in the early going. What will you be shooting with these powers, I hear you ask? Well, Tokyo may be free of humans, but there are some exceptionally creepy folks roaming the streets in their place.
The faceless “Visitors” are all over the shop here, ranging from the bizarre headless schoolgirls to really heavy-set fellas with umbrellas. Each will have a unique set of attacks, and will be jerking and moving all over the place in a way that is as unsettling as it is pulse-quickening. Get caught up in a group of five or six, and you’ll suddenly find yourself in a very tricky spot indeed. Thankfully, there are ammo restocks dotted throughout the world, and the enemies themselves will drop supplies once they’re downed, but it can lead to some really hairy moments in combat!
A Graphical Powerhouse
In the quieter moments after combat, Akito encounters floating blue spirits, which can be collected and returned at any one of a number of phone boxes dotted throughout the map. These spirits are all that remains of the citizens of Tokyo, and you will need to store them in Katashiros, small paper cuttings of ghosts, in order to level up and progress.
Akito’s quest becomes two-fold quite quickly. Firstly, he’s trying to establish what happened to his sister, after she was kidnapped by the game’s big bad, the man in the Hannya Mask. The second part of his mission is to establish what the hell actually happened, how he’s become linked with KK, and how to reverse the calamity that’s occurred, as you make your way through a meticulously reconstructed depiction of Tokyo.
That leads me on to how the game looks and performs. With the game a couple of weeks, and doubtless a few patches, away from release, it’s already shaping up to be a technical stunner. We’ve been spoiled for choice with a bunch of games looking fantastic recently, and Ghostwire: Tokyo looks like it’s going to continue that trend. There are a total of six options in here to choose from, including high framerate versions of quality and performance modes, allowing for you to choose which way you want to soak in the sights of night time Tokyo. More excitingly, the game implements Ray Traced Reflections in its quality modes, while drenching the Shibuya streets in copious amounts of rain, allowing the game to truly flex its eye-candy dispensing muscles. Of course, we’ll have a technical comparison video up on our YouTube channel when reviews hit, but if you’re on the hunt for a graphical powerhouse following Horizon Zero Dawn’s visual feast, then it looks like Ghostwire might be the one for you.
Gameplay wise, the first two chapters show a ton of the features, mechanics and abilities that will be available as you guide Akito throughout the game. The range of enemies is pretty standard, but as I approached the end of chapter 2, there were some moments that legitimately terrified me. The introduction of one enemy type caught me completely off guard, and had me panicking for a moment while I readjusted myself to take them down. That’s not to say that this is a full on Survival Horror title, but it’s got enough unnerving elements to send the odd shiver down the spine of anyone with a passing interest in the genre. In fact, I’d say that my time with the game so far reminds me more of Control than the likes of Resident Evil, albeit with a slightly less dynamic combat system. It’s got just the right amount of intriguing moments to pull you through the story, and enough side content for you to take a break if you feel like doing so. One thing that really surprised me was the voice acting options – it defaults to Japanese audio with English subtitles, and it’s something that I felt really added to the whole ambience of the game. Of course, there are options for other languages as well, but it’s a neat touch that I really liked.
A Tense environment that verges on Survival Horror
Toward the end of the preview time I had, Akito and KK became separated, which definitely ramped up the tension. Having to navigate an area that was swarming with Visitors became much more difficult knowing that I couldn’t bust out some Ethereal combat, and when they were finally reunited, an ability got unlocked that should make things very interesting indeed going forward…
You can check out our Let’s Look At Preview of Ghostwire: Tokyo below, which should give you an idea of some of the gameplay and mechanics, but even with my early time going hands-on, I’ve got to say this has shot up my most anticipated list. It had me intrigued with the trailers, but having been in Akito’s world, roaming the desolate streets of Tokyo and being in awe of just how good everything looks, I feel confident enough to say that this is a game that you shouldn’t sleep on when it launches on March 25th.