ROAMING around the abandoned streets of Tokyo, exorcising otherworldly ‘visitors’ and petting adorable critters along the way make it very easy to fall in love with Ghostwire: Tokyo. But an abrupt ending and a reliance on familiar open-world mechanics hold the game back from reaching its fullest potential.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Ghostwire: Tokyo has been developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda for PlayStation 5 and PC (I reviewed the PS5 version).
As the game opens, you are introduced to KK; a now dead ghost hunter, searching for a body to possess so that he can exact vengeance and save the people of Tokyo from the man that killed him.
KK eventually inhabits Akito, our protagonist, who now appears to be the only human left in the city after a mysterious fog makes the rest of its citizens disappear. Fortunately, Akito is able to harness KK’s ethereal weaving powers, forcing the pair to work together to fight against the hordes of corrupted spirits left in the wake of the fog.
Combat is sleek, elegant and wonderfully fun, making up the large majority of the gameplay. In the opening hours of the game, Akito gains access to three different types of ethereal weaving; wind, water and fire, each suited to different situations thanks to their variety in range, area of effect and power. Additionally, Akito also possesses a bow along with a range of talismans to utilise when approaching enemies.
One very nice touch which made the ethereal weaving aspect of combat feel so enjoyable was the control scheme on the DualSense controller. As Akito danced his hands on screen, a stroke of my own finger on the PS5 touchpad would change which element I had equipped. Something about performing the physical action with my own hands connected me to the motions on screen, keeping me engaged throughout combat encounters.
Understandably this input type may not be ideal for everyone, so a more standard trigger hold option is automatically enabled and available without needing to change any settings. This is true for any input throughout Ghostwire: Tokyo that uses the touchpad controls.
You can upgrade your abilities using skill points from leveling up and the best way to do this is by tackling the game’s various side missions. Something I really want to emphasise here is just how wonderful the side quests are. Every optional mission was designed in a way that kept you close to where you picked up the quest and took anywhere from two to roughly ten minutes at the lengthiest.
These bite sized chunks act as a way to break up the gameplay in unique and interesting ways, offering memorable encounters worthy of your time. From helping a desperate spirit find some toilet paper to finding lost tanuki for their cheeky boss, every side mission expanded the lore and let the personalities of Akito and KK shine.
Given how outstanding the design and execution of the side content was, I was surprised when the main campaign felt somewhat repetitive. For the most part, main questline progression felt reduced to a sequence of ‘find a shrine, kill the enemies, cleanse the shrine to defog the map and repeat at the next shrine’. It’s a loop commonly seen in open-world games, but one that feels overdone in Ghostwire:Tokyo to the point that it overshadowed the story beats that didn’t follow that same structure.
In the same vein, where the side quests added to the rich culture and history of this version of Tokyo, the main storyline felt like it left off with more questions than answers. Because just as the game begins to really pick up, you are thrust into the finale, bearing witness to lengthy cutscenes interspersed with bouts of walking and a few brief combat encounters.
The abruptness meant that many plot points established and characters mentioned throughout the game were left unresolved or ignored, leaving me with a sense of shock and confusion rather than satisfaction.
Something else important to mention regarding Ghostwire: Tokyo, is that it feels like it just contains too many collectables to make up for the shorter length of its main story. Now I am a completionist and I love exploring open world games for every shred of content on offer.
However, when the number of a single type of collectable to be found is over 200,000, there is no way to look at it that feels remotely achievable. Yes, you do collect more than one at a time, but the number itself is just too big to feel realistic and in turn, put me off wanting to do any of similar types of collect-a-thon content outside of the actual side quests.
I think much of this feeling comes down to the fact that one of the greatest joys in the game is simply exploring its world; no objective needed.
I genuinely can’t stop thinking about how hauntingly beautiful the city felt.The city feels alive despite its empty streets and begs you to spend time in it; bright neon lights sparkle in the dark night, highlighting the immense detail dripping from every surface. Walking past a convenience store and having the sliding doors open as you got close felt so natural, plus going in and buying supplies from the adorable cats floating behind the counter always made me smile. Even petting pups as they sniffed down the sidewalk made the world feel whole in a way that I greatly admire.
While I wish more time had been spent better fleshing out and explaining the story, the side quests do a wonderful job of keeping you hooked within the world. Pursuing a fair chunk of the side quests alongside the main story will still get you hitting completion roughly within a comfortable 10-20 hour window.
When I previewed Ghostwire: Tokyo back in February, I hypothesised that the game might seem familiar in some ways and unforgettable in other, and having played the full version myself I can confirm that I was correct. It may be a familiar game with a familiar structure, but there are moments in the game that I’ll never forget thanks to its gorgeous world and quirky side quest design.
With all of that in mind, I would still recommend Ghostwire: Tokyo. For the world and the combat alone, it’s an open world game worthy of your time. Flaws aside, it was a lot of fun and delivers an enjoyable experience for fans of the occult and open world adventure.