Tango Gameworks leaves the land of survival-horror, and lands on the shores of the action-adventure game with Ghostwire Tokyo. The studios founded by Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil, Dino Crisis) invite us to discover the city of Tokyo and face a mysterious anomaly during a supernatural epic. Is the title published by Bethesda Softworks able to make a lasting impression?
A paranormal investigation
Ghostwire Tokyo plunges us into the heart of a Japanese capital plagued by a strange phenomenon responsible for the disappearance of almost the entire population, with the exception of a young Japanese. Akito of his name managed to resist the mysterious fog that envelops the city thanks to the intervention of a spiritual being named KK. This fusion gives the first the opportunity to save his younger sister and the second to take revenge on the master of the occult Hannya and the legions of Faceless who caused the tragedy that strikes Tokyo.
An action-adventure game in the open world takes the risk of crumbling its scenario without ever succeeding in imposing it. Following a hard-hitting introduction and a highly scripted first act, it must be recognized that the story is set back to the point of becoming at times a spectator of its own story. However, the staging, which is mainly there to expose the plot, puts the small dishes in the big ones when necessity is law and serves us high-end cinematics, certainly few, but perfectly realized. Note that Ghostwire Tokyo has dubbing in Japanese and English as well as subtitles in French (VOSTFR or VASTFR).
The scriptwriters are also counting on gameplay narration via sequences that lack neither imagination nor poetry to move the plot forward. The young hero and his alter ego go through all the emotions, and so do we, during visually stunning dreamlike sequences inspired as much by the 7th Art, especially horrific, as by Japanese folklore. It emerges from these moments in weightlessness, where the notions of time and space lose all common sense, a creativity that borders on melancholy. The main theme that underlies the story, namely mourning, thus flourishes as much by the content, the story of Akito and KK, as by the form… the gameplay.
A purification of the Tokyo city
With Ghostwire Tokyo, Tango Gameworks sets itself the challenge of designing a believable open world reproducing the nerve center of the capital of Japan on a 1:1 scale. The studios supervised by Shinji Mikami promised us a life-size Tokyo and they kept their word. The Tokyo city stretches as far as the eye can see (or almost) and is full of iconic places to discover in a new supernatural light. Certainly, the city is depopulated which is amply justified by the scenario, but it is neither empty nor devoid of interest. Tokyo wants to be both realistic and exotic, true and paranormal; familiar and enigmatic.
From this urban maze emerges a heavy end-of-the-world atmosphere. Despite environments that end up repeating themselves, Tokyo obliges, the pleasure of discovery remains intact throughout an adventure that requires about fifteen hours to end in a straight line (30 hours to finish the game at 100%) . The Japanese city becomes in its own way a character in its own right with its codes, its gimmicks and a story that belongs only to it. Tango Gameworks transforms this metropolis into a field of opportunities with its share of main and secondary missions, sometimes redundant, and this desire to push the walls. Exploration is not just about wandering the streets, but plays with the notion of verticality, and involves Akito on the roofs as well as in the basements of the city.
Technically, the new creation of Tango Gameworks does not have to be ashamed of the competition. On the contrary, the title turns out to be solid, free of bugs, which guarantees smooth progress, and offers a total change of scenery with its polished visuals. Ghostwire Tokyo won’t be remembered for being a graphics revolution, but that doesn’t matter. Its main strength lies in its singular atmosphere equal to no other and its ability to surprise with an artistic direction merging urban environments and supernatural elements. for a result rarely (if ever) seen. Special mention to the visual effects, and especially to those transposing the hero’s powers to the screen.
The art of exorcism
Tango Gameworks abandons here the codes of survival-horror and reappropriates those of the action-adventure game. Ghostwire Tokyo relies on numerous and intense clashes, not on survival and careful management of resources. There are many items to recover health and a notion of “ammunition”, but this turns out to be secondary or even tertiary. The title focuses on the use of the powers of the hero he wields, and therefore we too by extension, with disconcerting ease. A simple and exhilarating, even intoxicating pleasure emerges from the fights, that of mastering the elements and our destiny.
The first-person view, which could confuse more than one, reinforces this feeling of immersion and accentuates the urgency of the situation. The reduced field of vision and the blind spots accentuate this omnipresent feeling of not being alone. Nevertheless, Akito and KK can count on their supernatural skills, ether weaving, to overcome a bestiary varied enough to renew the interest of the clashes, and the same goes for the objectives entrusted to them. Without truly revolutionizing the genre, Tango Gameworks stands out for its esoteric approach to first-person action games.
Exorcists are also tricked into using stealth, primarily when Akito and KK are separated, and using “deadly” weapons, starting with a bow and various talismans with multiple properties. These phases of infiltration, few in number it must be admitted, enhance the trip without really altering its tone. The puzzles, bosses and other playful variants imagined by the Japanese studios serve the same objective, namely to break a certain feeling of repetition inherent in the genre. Ultimately, Ghostwire Tokyo is not perfect, repeats itself in moments, but shows originalityand that is the main thing.
At the start of the adventure, Akito and his ethereal alter ego KK are unable to confront Hannya. To gain power and unlock new abilities, they are invited to release as many souls as possible, to purify the Japanese city and to fulfill various objectives in exchange, among other things, for a substantial gain in experience and a level up. You would have understood it, Ghostwire Tokyo incorporates mechanics from role-playing games without it becoming predominant. This Light-RPG dimension, present in many modern games, immerses us all the more in the adventure and strengthens our emotional bond with the protagonists by directly influencing their destiny.
Eventually, 100% of the hero’s abilities and other skills are unlocked. While the path varies from player to player, the destination definitely remains the same. Akito and KK are dedicated to mastering the art of exorcism as a whole. It is however possible to favor certain rosaries with various properties, to be equipped according to the current objectives, and to opt for a particular outfit whose interest is for the latter purely aesthetic. Ghostwire Tokyo is an action-adventure game first and foremost and therefore limits playful and cosmetic customization opportunities to a few options.
- An esoteric story centered on the theme of mourning
- The dreamlike game phases
- 1:1 scale reconstruction of Tokyo
- The exploration and verticality of level design
- A supernatural atmosphere inspired by Japanese folklore
- Exhilarating fights against a rich bestiary
- The Light-RPG Dimension
- Japanese/English dubbing and French subtitles
- A story sometimes set back
- Unvaried urban environments
- A fairly short lifespan (15 hours in a straight line – 30 hours for 100%)
- The feeling of repetition after ten hours (missions, objectives)
Tango Gameworks’ video game proposal will be a milestone. Without ever reaching perfection, Ghostwire Tokyo marks the spirits. The 1:1 scale reconstruction of the Japanese capital, the exploration of a supernatural and urban open world as well as the ethereal combat system alone are worth the detour. Admittedly, the story is sometimes set back and a certain feeling of repetition appears at the end of the course, but these few flaws are compensated for by the very singularity of the work imagined by Shinji Mikami and his teams. Ghostwire Tokyo is indeed that long-awaited memorable trip.
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