Let The Fog Seep In
Whenever I see more of Ghostwire: Tokyo, I’m struck by how beautiful it is. This demonic take on Tokyo has looked great since it was first revealed at E3 back in 2019, but outside of it having stunning graphics and a vibe that seems just right for a game produced by Shinji Mikami, father of the Resident Evil franchise, I still didn’t have a great idea what to expect from it. Thankfully, the development team at Tango Gameworks recently allowed us to sit down for a closer look which has gone a long way toward lifting the veil on Ghostwire.
As game director Kenji Kimura told us right off the bat, everyone is going to disappear from Tokyo. Well, almost everyone. Ghostwire finds a strange fog sweeping over the city, with anyone touched by it transformed into a spirit in an event known as The Vanishing. We didn’t jump in at the very start of the game, but by the time we joined the quest, most of Tokyo was already gone.
Meaningless Earthly Vessels
Our protagonist, Akito, is still there, however, thanks to help from KK, a ghost hunter whose spirit fuses with him after his untimely death while pursuing Hannya, the villain who is planning to use the fog to usher in a new age. Beyond trying to survive the fog, both members of this duo have a personal reason for going after Hannya, who has killed many of KK’s friends and currently holds Akito’s sister hostage.
Starting in Yugenzaka, KK directs Akito to avoid the fog as they make their way to his apartment, where he has gear that can help you fight back against the monsters terrorizing the city. On the way, you stumble upon a gate that proves to be the source of fog in the area. You’ll need to use elemental spirit powers known as Ethereal Weaving to cleanse the gate and clear the area. Those monsters I mentioned aren’t going to stand back and let you do your work, though. Strange creatures who look a lot like Slenderman with an umbrella come for you, but you have tools to fight back.
A New Age Dawns
Akito’s Ethereal Weaving abilities give him a way to fight back. Flashing his hands from motion to motion, we see Akito gather energy from fire, wind, water, wielding the titular wires that lash out at foes, as his hands fly around the screen like he’s Dr. Strange. Moving from one attack to another certainly looks smooth at this stage in development; I can’t wait to get my hands on these hands and feel it for myself.
Upon clearing the gate, Akito stumbles upon one of the few remaining humans in the city being captured by the fog. Fighting back, you’re able to save their spirit, but they’re no longer human. Don’t worry; that doesn’t have to be permanent. Apparently, this is a version of Tokyo where phone booths are still all over the place, each equipped with a spirit tool that allows you to turn people back to humans, safely outside the confines of the city where you don’t have to actually talk to them. With over 240,000 spirits available to save, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be a short journey. I imagine you’ll be spending more time running to phone booths than any of us have in the last fifteen years. At some point, developers are going to have to find a replacement for such phone booths, before the average player is too young to even know what they are. Still, I get why they haven’t thus far. It’s hard to find something quite this ubiquitous in most cities.
KK’s apartment looks awfully high-tech, but the main thing the player gains from it beyond their next destination is a killer-looking bow and arrow, which can impact spirits. Throughout the time we watched the developers play, they never seemed to have a ton of arrows, but more were frequently available, and this looks to be a great way to fight from a distance. It’s a good thing you have this new tool because when you leave, you’ll find the building surrounded by an energy barrier set to crush everything inside it in seven minutes. Certainly nice of our foes to wait until you had a tool needed to survive this to unleash it.
Are You The Savior?
Despite the generosity of our enemies, this was my favorite sequence during this demonstration. Running from apartment to apartment, you have to search out a series of barrier stones to break free. As you do, the building writhes and transforms around you, turning into the sort of nightmare we’d expect from this team. Ghostwire plays with perspective as well, with doorways seeming to change the entire orientation of the building. One moment you’re just running along, then you’re on the floor, or the ceiling, forced to climb furniture to reach another doorway which sends you off in a new direction. The building seems to be actively fighting you, but by using spirit arrows, you’re able to save the building, along with your life.
Ghostwire: Tokyo looks to offer a large, open-world with plenty to do. Taking down gates will allow you to explore more areas and save more spirits. We saw a variety of enemies, such as variations on the Slenderman like creatures and ghostly schoolgirls without heads, among others. As you gather energy and complete goals, you’ll be able to improve your skills via an upgrade tree. A variety of side quests, such as helping an older spirit save a young girl who has been captured by the evil spirit of her former landlord, also fill the world out.
There Remains Work Yet Undone
I’d be remiss not to mention Ghostwire’s soundtrack as well. Between the music showcased throughout this demonstration and a track that played while we waited for it to begin, our staff was blown away by what we heard. We can’t wait to hear more.
Really, that’s where we stand on Ghostwire: Tokyo as a whole. We want more, and we want it now. While going in, I may not have had a full understanding of what the game was. Now I know it’s one of our most anticipated titles. PS5 and PC players look to be in for a treat, and they’re in for it soon. This delicious shortcake of a game is set to release on March 25th, 2022, on PlayStation 5 and PC.