Ghostwire: Tokyo (Xbox) Review
Ghostwire: Tokyo became almost more noteworthy for where it was than what it was. The last PlayStation exclusive from Xbox following the Bethesda deal, it seems to have came and went. That is a real shame.
Now, a year on, Xbox can finally release Ghostwire: Tokyo on their own platforms, including Game Pass. Is it worth the leap in?
A mix of Ubisoft’s blend of exploration with a heavy dose of Japanese culture, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a horror game that leans heavily into its supernatural influences. And it has a great feeling as a result.
Like it’s Tower-exploration influences, how much you enjoy the longevity will depend entirely on how you feel about approaching the same problem over and over again. Yes, there are collectables. And yes, there are endless icons on the map.
In that way, it is this game’s character that makes it stand out from the competition. Although because of that, it makes it a bit of a Marmite title.
Tokyo At Night
The first thing you’ll notice is that Ghostwire: Tokyo is pretty cutscene heavy. For a modern game, it’s spends a surprisingly large amount of time taking control away from you. This evens out the more you play it, but interactions that could have happened in-game trigger a giant cutscene. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. The story is interesting enough, and the dialogue – while extremely Japanese – works for what it is doing.
But it gives you a hint that things aren’t quite as streamlined as perhaps they could be.
But let’s start on a positive. The locations are incredible. Tokyo lives and breathes around you, which is impressive when there are no people around you. It just feels right, in a way approaching how Yakuza does it. It looks the part, and the combination of tradition and modern meets you around every corner. Its first-person gameplay looks awesome on an OLED TV.
And, individually, everything you have to do within that city is fun enough. There are main missions, side missions, things to collect. There are animals to interact with. A huge amount of stuff to discover and do – over and over again, in the Ubisoft tradition. This isn’t an Ubisoft game, but it wears its influences on its sleeve.
Ubisoft + Horror isn’t a bad thing, and Ghostwire does it well. I can’t say there have been many moments that are actually scary, mileage will vary. But it’s a horror in that it deals with supernatural elements and will occasionally try to make you jump. I’m not really sure anything has ever tried to go for this vibe before, but I love it.
Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts
This is partly because it’s hard to be scared when everything is so open, and partly because the enemies aren’t overly difficult to defeat. They’re wonderfully designed, and finding new variations is always good fun. But then to defeat them you back up, shooting magic in their general direction until they fall over. This could have been built upon, either with a more complicated magic system or with a points system that rewards you for playing in a certain way.
It’s never bad, I should add. Each fight ends up unique enough that it doesn’t feel exactly the same. But it’s close enough that some people will find it frustrating. Using different elements doesn’t really change much. The only difficulty spike comes from how many enemies you face at once, and that’s not overly challenging. Perhaps this is a problem with sticking it on Normal, and those fancying a bigger challenge should take that into account when hitting New Game.
As you progress you gain experience, which you use to spend on skills. You get XP from side quests too. No surprises here.
And that’s the crux of the problem with Ghostwire. It does what it does fairly well. And yet there are very few surprises. All too often games rely on things you already know and have already seen, using sleight-of-hand to hide the monotony. Ghostwire doesn’t do that very well. It tells you what it is, and you can take it or leave it. I respect that.
Ghostwire: Tokyo Review – Conclusion
This isn’t a bad game, and the atmosphere of it is awesome. The location stands out, and I love the monster design. Nothing ever feels terrible. It just feels a little dry.
It’s not hard to imagine someone playing this game for weeks on end and loving every second of it. It’s also not hard to imagine someone playing it and it just not clicking. I like that – more games should be what they want to be. Although, with that said, I suspect the Ubisoft influences would have been less obvious if that had truly been the case.
Maybe it’s the pressure of being a PlayStation exclusive. Maybe, like its Tango successor Hi-fi Rush, it would’ve benefited from dropping directly onto a sub service. Without the need to be a $70 experience, Ghostwire would have been a better game.
But thankfully the character still comes through. It’s an indie game masquerading as a massive AAA open world. What it does best is lay the foundation for future sequels or spin-offs – and those will be games worth playing.