Following their brilliant work on The Evil Within series, Tango Gameworks are back again with another horror adventure that’s sure to give gamers chills as they look to save Tokyo from a malicious ghostly threat. Ghostwire: Tokyo feels different to The Evil Within though (and most other horror titles that came before it) – not only from a gameplay perspective with its shift to a first-person escapade where you have magical abilities, but also with its storytelling that focuses more on unsettling the player with its eerie and peculiar sights.

It helps make the game feel distinct and, more importantly, fun. It has a few stumbling blocks across its adventure, but Ghostwire: Tokyo is one of the most unique horror games I’ve played for some time.

Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:

Ghostwire: Tokyo doesn’t tell the story of a bustling city that’s packed to the brim with life, but rather one that’s completely lifeless following the arrival of a mysterious mist that has caused the population to vanish. That mist also brought with it supernatural beings that want to capture the spirits of the folk that have disappeared, which is NEVER a good thing. Players take on the role of Akito, who just so happened to be safe from the mist’s effects. On the flip-side, he’s also possessed by a powerful spirit known as KK, though thankfully their objectives line up: to stop the occultist who brought the mist upon Tokyo in the first place.

It’s a weird story, but it’s easy to get on board with everything that’s taking place. It’s surprisingly deep too, with Akito’s relationship with his sister playing a big role in how events pan out, whilst players even get to learn more about KK along the way. Akito and KK don’t get on all that well at first, but a bond is formed when they realise they have more in common than they might have initially believed… the fact that Akito needs KK’s powers in order to vanquish his foes probably helps too, though. Either way, both heroes are likable, whilst there are plenty of twists and intriguing characters to meet that ensure Ghostwire: Tokyo’s tale will keep players invested until the end.

“The combination of Akito’s skills and KK’s powers ensure battling in Ghostwire: Tokyo is fun, with showdowns often proving to be hectic affairs as all sorts of enemies try to attack you whilst you unleash your magical abilities.”

Whilst Ghostwire: Tokyo is a modern first-person experience, it doesn’t focus on offering guns for players to shoot their way through hordes of enemies. Instead, Akito has to rely on KK’s elemental capabilities, with players able to utilise attacks based around Wind, Fire and Water. These bring with them their own unique properties that help differentiate them from one another, but ultimately they provide a means to blast out projectiles that can damage the enemies you come across. Encounters against solo enemies might be better handled with the brute power of Fire attacks, for example, whilst taking on multiple weaker foes at once are better handled with Water attacks that bring with them a wider area of effect. Want to unleash some quick attacks in succession? Get breezy with the Wind element, with its attacks utilising a higher rate of fire. Each ability can be upgraded and new skills can be unlocked, so your elemental move set becomes even more versatile and effective as you progress through the game.

Your magical abilities require energy to use and you don’t have an infinite supply, so you can’t be too trigger happy unleashing attacks. Fortunately, Akito also has more conventional tools in his arsenal, such as his bow and arrow, talismans that unleash special abilities, a melee attack, and the ability to block and parry incoming attacks. There’s also an emphasis placed on using stealth to defeat foes, which could definitely prove more efficient in situations where Akito and KK are separated. It’s a simple enough mechanic that relies on sneaking up on enemies to take them out, though some inconsistencies on whether or not they’ll notice you could make it a bit awkward in places.  

The combination of Akito’s skills and KK’s powers ensure battling in Ghostwire: Tokyo is fun, with showdowns often proving to be hectic affairs as all sorts of enemies try to attack you whilst you unleash your magical abilities. Players need to balance out using their magic, gathering energy to recharge it, defending from attacks, and keeping distance when they need to, with some battles proving tricky if they’re not too careful – it feels more methodical than a lot of first-person action titles and can often demand a fair bit of patience as you await the right moment to attack. The tension makes it more enjoyable though and ensures that it isn’t a cakewalk dealing with the game’s malicious enemies. There were a few finicky elements here and there, such as the aiming being a little sketchy in places as well as enemy AI being a little bit iffy at times too, but it didn’t prevent combat from being really enjoyable.

“The side quests are especially impressive – not because they offer wholly original tasks to complete or anything, but rather because they’re based upon Japanese urban legends that the developers themselves were familiar with.”

When not battling enemies, you’ll spend a lot of time exploring Tokyo and discovering the many secrets it has littered around. Whilst there’s a main path to follow in the game, there are also an abundance of side quests to complete and collectibles to find that enrich the experience. The side quests are especially impressive – not because they offer wholly original tasks to complete or anything, but rather because they’re based upon Japanese urban legends that the developers themselves were familiar with. It gave me more incentive to go out of my way to complete them, not just to earn rewards but to also learn about these unfamiliar Japanese stories. It should only take players around ten hours or so to beat the main game, but you can easily see that playtime doubled if you take the time to experience everything that Ghostwire: Tokyo has to offer.

The city itself is a treat to explore too, with it full of wonderful sights that add a colourful sense of charm to the world around you. Whilst Tokyo itself is devoid of physical life, there’s a sense of presence to be found that makes it feel like an active and bustling city (plus there are clothes everywhere which is a really cool way to emphasise people literally disappearing into thin air). It never feels like a concrete jungle either, with plenty of variety to be found – ESPECIALLY when paranormal forces are in play and bring forth some truly bizarre sights. It’s certainly a visually impressive game, whilst there are also multiple graphic modes on offer to give players the kind of experience that best suits them.

There’s a grand sense of verticality when exploring, not only with how buildings tower over you but also with the grappling that allows you to zip between flying Tengu and use them to reach the rooftops. Everything looks especially impressive from up high, but it also ties into the gameplay in a meaningful way and makes it easier to get around. The world itself isn’t massive, but it’s packed with enough to see to ensure exploring never gets stale.

Oh, and there are shops manned by magical creatures, which is ALWAYS going to earn brownie points from me.

Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:

I can’t end this review without talking about the enemies you face off against, with a brilliant variety on offer that blend together typical supernatural cliches with everyday people. Sure, floating sheets or ghostly girls with giant scissors are probably to be expected, but the way it manages to also make ordinary folk like businessmen or schoolgirls into such eerie foes was pretty impressive. It feels unnerving without going too over-the-top and it makes the horror all the more believable, whilst the variety of enemies offered ensures the game doesn’t run out of ideas. It does go a bit more extravagant with the bosses, but hey, that’s to be expected.

Ghostwire: Tokyo Review

Ghostwire: Tokyo is a unique and enjoyable horror romp that plays things a bit differently to the norm, but is very successful in doing so. Using magical elements to destroy the paranormal threat was cool throughout, whilst exploring this vivid yet lifeless take on Tokyo was a real treat – especially since it looked gorgeous in-game and offered plenty to discover.

There are some areas where it could falter, especially with some finicky aiming and an enemy AI that was guilty of feeling imbalanced, but it doesn’t stop Ghostwire: Tokyo from being a whole lot of fun to play. If you want to play a horror game that does things a bit differently, I’d implore you to give it a try.

Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda
Platform(s): PlayStation 5