Ghostwire: Tokyo is Basically Doctor Strange Meets The Actual Strange - Gameplay Preview

Ghostwire: Tokyo is Basically Doctor Strange Meets The Actual Strange - Gameplay Preview

Dan Webb

Last night Bethesda and Sony unveiled their first-look proper look at Ghostwire: Tokyo, a first-person, action-adventure game from Tekken alum Kenji Kimura, and the normally horror-orientated Tango Gameworks. A game that is almost what a first-person shooter would look like if you put Doctor Strange and his wild incantation hand-actions at the forefront, then mixed it with Call of Duty, and chucked in Tetris Effect’s explosions of colour and retina-searing particle effects. After last night’s 10-minute State of Play demo and an extended gameplay preview a few weeks back, that’s the only way I can really describe it. Sure, it’s a wild analogy that’s a bit all over the place, but Ghostwire: Tokyo is weird. And it’s confusing. And it’s hard to get a proper grasp of what’s actually going on. But boy, does it intrigue us.

In Ghostwire: Tokyo you play as Akito, a normal everyday Tokyo citizen (or so you’d think!) who’s been fused with a character named KK, who just so happens to be an experienced ghost hunter, which, quite honestly, is bloody fantastic. Because, in Ghostwire: Tokyo, you’re thrown into the sprawling metropolis that is the eponymous Japanese city, shortly after its inhabitants have been mysteriously kidnapped, as a mysterious fog drifts through the streets and spirits run rampant. Kinda sounds like we need an experienced ghost hunter right about now!

It’s not like you can call the Ghostbusters either, as all communication to the outside world has been cut off. You’re alone, and Akito – with the help of KK – needs to clear disgruntled spirits from the Tokyo streets and return the missing people to their city, all while dealing with the malevolent Hannya, who seems to be behind all of this weirdness. It’s all very confusing, but to sum it up, elevator pitch-style, you’re basically an exorcist, with the powers of Dr. Stephen Strange, sent into exorcise Tokyo. All of it.

During our demo, we picked up with Akito near the beginning of the game, as Tango introduced mechanics one at a time, at a fairly leisurely pace - each one as baffling as the last. Not in a bad way, just in a “what the hell?!” way. Like when we had to deposit the spirits Akito had rescued, in what can only be described as an other-worldly phone booth, in order to accumulate XP. Yeah, we’ve got no idea why, but hey, who says we need to ask questions, eh? Who says we need to know why. I’m sure there’s some deeper meaning there, like phoning people up can free the spirits of the past… or make you grow as a person? Something like that. Maybe.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is Tango’s first attempt at a true open-world, and it’s a fairly gorgeous one at that. The neon-soaked Tokyo blends perfectly with Japan’s more spiritual side, to stunning effect, and being able to focus on a single next-gen console seems to be paying dividends, as we were blessed with some of the most beautiful particle effects we’ve seen since Tetris Effect.

It’s a game that really truly is difficult to explain. It’s bizarre, and we kind of love it. One minute you’re hooking onto Tengu to gain access to the roof of an apartment building, the next you’re entering a convenience store to buy supplies off a Nekomata, which is basically a floating cat in the form of a Yokai who doubles as a shop clerk – presumably on weekends. The whole world is inexplicable, with piles of clothes lining the street, as if their previous owners disappeared into the ether in an instant, and if that’s not disturbing enough, the weird pulsing blood trees that line the streets, with pumping hearts, are perhaps even more discomforting. This is a proper open-world too, with a mini-map, side missions with an old lady and their landlord, dogs barking at stuff, and spirits trapped in cubes to save. You know, standard fare then.

The fog-draped inner city of Tokyo can only be saved by Akito and KK, requiring them to defeat spirits near Torii gates and then cleanse them with some crazy invocation, which subsequently clears up the immediate vicinity. With Akito’s Ethereal Weaving – essentially, fancy hand incantations that produce elemental magic spells and more – the masked foes with umbrellas are no match for him. Akito was able to chip away at their exterior to reveal their core, and then it’s just a matter of ripping it out to send them back to where they came from, which based on the large umbrellas they’re holding and the black suits they’re wearing, is probably England. Once Akito has cleansed the gate, the fog lifts, and the path before him opens up.

As Akito searches for his sister, he enters a busy apartment block that seems to exist in two planes of reality. The real world blends with an entirely new world, patterns emerge on the walls, dimensions flip, conventional planes shift, so much so that Akito finds himself walking on walls and ceilings as if it’s an everyday occurrence. As globules of dark matter populate the place, Akito uses his recently acquired bow to blink from one side of a corrupted room to the other, rushing to destroy its source before the corruption consumes him. It’s weird. It’s wacky. It’s kind of wonderful.

Admittedly, the pacing of Ghostwire: Tokyo’s opening was a little glacial for our liking, but what we saw is an inkling of what could be, and combined with the gameplay showcased last night, we’re definitely more intrigued by the game than we previously were… mainly because we had no idea what to expect before. I mean, we still don’t have any idea what’s really going on now and what to really expect, but throwing out elaborate hand gestures and producing dazzling looking spells, in a bizarre open-world, we can get behind that.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is scheduled for a 25th March launch on PlayStation 5 and PC.

  • I kinda like those hand movements when you cast magic, makes it look awesome.
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