Bethesda’s Playstation swansong is a good-looking, haunting delight
Ghoswire Tokyo comes from the development team at Tango Gameworks (the studio behind The Evil Within) and it has been published by Bethesda Softworks, the company behind such massive hits as Dishonored and Deathloop, as well as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series of games.
Microsoft recently paid out a hefty sum of money to acquire Bethesda so Ghostwire Tokyo will likely be the last of their games to appear on a Playstation system. Unless you own an Xbox and/or a gaming PC, this will probably be sad news to you, and you’ll also be gutted to learn that you won’t get the chance to play the studio’s recently announced Starfield on your PS4 or PS5, an epic sci-fi RPG which will be an Xbox and Windows exclusive.
But hey, at least you have Ghostwire Tokyo to play, Bethesda’s swansong game on the PS5, and while it isn’t the studio’s best title, it’s a lot of fun to play regardless.
This first-person game takes place in a deserted Tokyo and it puts you in the shoes of Akito, a young man who is trying to track down his sister, Mari, after she goes missing (like the rest of the city’s inhabitants), after a paranormal attack. Luckily, Akito isn’t alone, as he is joined in his mission by KK, a friendly spirit that possesses him at the beginning of the game.
Akito’s literal soulmate isn’t entirely selfless, however, as he needs Akito to battle the various supernatural forces that have taken over the city. This seemingly impossible task is made possible thanks to the powers that KK imbues Akito with, including a set of elemental attacks which comprise of wind, water, and fire. As well as these, Akito is armed with a spiritual bow that is capable of firing spirit-bursting arrows, and there are talismans scattered around the city that give him extra powers, such as the ability to halt enemy attacks with a powerful stun move.
Of course, as is typical in games of this sort, Akito’s abilities can be upgraded as you level up. As such, your attacks can be made stronger, and you can pick up additional skills that can open up new gameplay possibilities.
The combat is a lot of fun although it’s a little tricky at first. Targetting the enemy can sometimes be quite difficult as they rarely stay in one place for very long. Still, you do have the option of sneaking up behind them and carrying out a powerful purge move that can usually wipe them out instantly.
In terms of enemies, there is a surprising amount of variety. They are all spirit in form but they can take on various guises, from suited-up businessmen to headless schoolgirls. There are boss fights too, including a giant spirit cat that isn’t so easy to take down, and everything climaxes with a battle with the game’s main bad guy, Hannya, who you learn more about during the game’s story.
The story itself is pretty generic but the dialogue between Akito and KK is still pretty strong. They communicate with one another throughout the game and their conversations never become boring. The Japanese voice work lends the game some authenticity but as they don’t speak English, you will need to get used to the game’s subtitles (unless you’re well-versed in the lingo).
Graphically, the game is excellent. You have the choice between the usual performance and resolution modes (there are 6 in total) but whichever option you choose, the game will remain a treat for your eyes. I preferred the Quality (resolution) mode, despite the drop in frame rate, as the ray-tracing elevated the visual experience with its reflective lighting both on and off the ground. However, with the bright neon colours and the overall level of detail of the city, you will still get a next-gen graphical experience in one of the game’s performance modes.
Despite coming from the people behind The Evil Within games, this isn’t particularly scary. In fact, it’s actually quite a funny game at times, especially within the side missions which see you helping lost spirits pass over into the other side. In one such mission, a spirit was inexplicably trapped within a bathroom cubicle and I had to search the surrounding area to find loo roll for the compromised ghost. Only after he had wiped his phantom butt could he safely migrate over into the afterlife!
You don’t have to do the side quests, of course, but you will level up quicker if you do. There are rather a lot of these extra missions, and while they are rarely unenjoyable, they are generally quite similar in nature. They do help to keep you in the game world, however, so if you want to prolong your experience past the 12 hours it takes to complete the main story, you might want to add a few of them to your to-do list.
The game runs very well, even in the default Quality mode, and there were no game-breaking bugs during my playthrough. Movement is fast and smooth, combat works well after getting used to the enemy attack patterns, and the adaptive triggers of the PS5’s controllers are given a good workout during the game’s many fight scenes. On the whole, I had a very enjoyable time playing the game, despite the difficulty spikes when facing off against some of the game’s tougher bad guys.
It’s by no means perfect – very few games are – so I did have a few niggles. One of these was the map which becomes a little convoluted with icons. Trying to track down my mission objectives was a little problematic as a result, although this was never a major issue. My other niggle occurred during a couple of the fight scenes. While the combat is largely enjoyable, there were times when the game forgot I was in the heat of battle and literally turned my character towards the direction of a nearby side quest. This only happened twice but it still marred my overall experience.
Overall, Ghostwire Tokyo is well worth a play. It doesn’t contain the largest game world you will find in a Bethesda game but it’s packed with things to do and the gameplay, for the most part, is a lot of fun. It might not be the swansong we hoped it would be from the publishing studio but it’s far from being a bad game either.
All of our videogame reviews are also featured on OpenCritic
Verdict - 7.5/10