Ghostwire: Tokyo PC preview — Japanese folklore Ghostbusters sim I didn't know I needed

Ghostwire Tokyo Embargo Feb 4 2022
Ghostwire Tokyo Embargo Feb 4 2022 (Image credit: Tango Gameworks)

Source: Tango Gameworks (Image credit: Source: Tango Gameworks)

Ghostwire: Tokyo is a game somewhat shrouded in mystery, at least until now. Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited into a preview event for the game, which launches exclusively on PlayStation and PC in March 2022. For the longest time, Ghostwire was essentially off my radar as an Xbox player, but since Microsoft purchased ZeniMax and thus Ghostwire's developer, Tango Gameworks, along with it, the prospect of Ghostwire hitting Xbox Series X and Series S in the future is naturally very high (albeit, as of yet unconfirmed).

Ahead of the preview event, I went hunting for information on the game and what you actually do in it, and save for a few scraps here and there, there wasn't a broad explanation of how Ghostwire: Tokyo works, or what it asks of you.

Now that I've seen the game for myself, it's certainly made its way onto my most anticipated upcoming games list. This is the quirky Ghostbusters-like FPS I didn't know I needed.

Tokyo shrouded in fog

Ghostwire Tokyo Embargo Feb 4 2022

Source: Tango Gameworks (Image credit: Source: Tango Gameworks)

Ghostwire: Tokyo, as its name suggests, takes place in Tokyo. A mysterious mist has blanketed the city, and while the full explanation is part of the game's central intrigue, it seems all the living citizens are now missing. In their place are "visitors," who are demons, ghosts, and various other angry spirits inspired by Japanese folklore.

You play as Akito, a young man caught up in the apocalyptic situation. At the beginning of the game, you find yourself possessed by the spirit of "KK," a ghost hunter and supernatural expert, who serves as your guide in this murky world. Indeed, it seems like the dimensions of the living and the dead are intertwined, with time itself running in convoluted patterns. During the preview, we saw Akito teleported instantaneously into new areas, shifting into the memories of various ghosts and spirits he encounters along the way. To that end, the visuals are impressive, with new worlds seamlessly emerging from the background of old ones, with remarkable reflections and lighting effects that give depth to Akito's array of supernatural powers.

Akito's quest to unravel the conspiracy is personal, given that his family has been taken by the strange force engulfing Tokyo. An enigmatic figure known only as Hannya taunts Akito along the way, shrouded in a demonic oni mask. Hannya speaks of unleashing a "new age" upon mankind, which seems to hinge on merging the realms of the dead and the living. You must guide Akito and KK as they explore Tokyo in attempts to uncover what Hannya's true plan is, and you'll meet plenty of quirky characters along the way.

Indeed, Ghostwire: Tokyo doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. While it has some seriously dark themes and a high-stakes plot, it also features cutesy yōkai spirits, ranging from talking cats to raccoons, who sell food buffs and other consumables. Japanese folklore is central to the game, and showcasing various superstitions and religious traditions forms parts of the game's puzzle-solving and investigation gameplay. Akito and KK will contend with various friendly apparitions along the way, some of whom remain trapped in the void between the physical realm and the afterlife, due to unresolved traumas from their life.

Not all of the spirits you'll meet in Ghostwire: Tokyo are friendly, though. Many of them actively want to murder Akito and absorb his spiritual energy. This is where Ghostwire's slick FPS combat takes center stage, and it's certainly looking like Ghostwire will be a seriously fun time.

Ghostwire rising

Source: Tango Gameworks (Image credit: Source: Tango Gameworks)

Ghostwire: Tokyo is essentially a first-person shooter, albeit without guns. Akito and KK combine their skills to perform an array of spiritual attacks, dispatching enemies with what is quite essentially a ghost wire, shredding defeated foes to their spiritual cores.

In the preview, we saw a large menagerie of twisted beasts and strange uncanny apparitions, which showcase Tango Gameworks' impressive (and somewhat twisted) artistic prowess. Faceless businessmen with destroyed umbrellas, headless schoolgirls armed to the teeth, and gigantic serpentine humanoids with rows of shark-like teeth await Akito. Thankfully, you have an impressive range of skills to deal with the threat.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is like Inception, only with less DiCaprio, and more demonology.

Akito's primary attacks are essentially finger bullets, sending blasts of spiritual energy that leave gaping holes in your foes. As you peel away an enemy's distorted form, you can reach into them and release their souls, removing them from combat. Enemies will assault you with a range of attacks of their own. Reactive players will be able to parry incoming hits, leaving enemies open for further attacks. Akito can also stealth to some degree, sneaking up on unsuspecting spirits for an instant takedown.

Upon killing enemies or solving puzzles, Akito seems to acquire some form of currency called spirits. Various hidden gizmos throughout Tokyo can be used to deposit spirits, hidden in phone boxes, built by ghosthunter friends of KK. It's unclear exactly what you'll be able to spend accrued spirits on, but it seems likely that it's tied to Akito's character progression, perhaps unlocking access to new abilities and tools. Indeed, along the way, Akito and KK explore what seems to be a ghosthunter outpost, and uncover a magical bow charged with spirit energy.

Source: Tango Gameworks (Image credit: Source: Tango Gameworks)

Ghostwire: Tokyo doesn't seem to be a full-blown open world, but the playable region seems very large, with apartments, shops, and other buildings you can explore off the beaten path. Some of these areas contain side objectives that tell small stories, complete with impressive effects as poltergeist and underworld entities warp reality, sending objects flying around the room. Gravity bends, turning the entire world upside down and inside out as underworld spirits attempt to impede your progress. The map also seems surprisingly vertical, with Akito able to use his ghostly wires to ascend to the tops of buildings. If I had to describe the game's style in a sentence, Ghostwire: Tokyo is like Inception, only with less DiCaprio, and more demonology.

It certainly seems crammed with spooky situations, but I don't think Ghostwire: Tokyo will lean too hard into nailbiting horror leanings of Tango's most famous work, The Evil Within. I think those of you who aren't fans of jump scares can rest easy — Ghostwire: Tokyo certainly seems more like an exploratory action thriller, with spectacular FPS-styled combat with flashy magic effects and intriguing monsters. I also found myself suitably intrigued by the plot and the characters. KK is a bit of a mystery himself, implying perhaps that there might be a wider conspiracy at play, beyond a simple tale of good versus evil. Why is Tokyo full of hidden ghost-busting tech? Who is Hannya, and what does he want? Is KK truly someone we can trust? I feel compelled to play to find out more.

The next big Bethesda franchise?

Source: Tango Gameworks (Image credit: Source: Tango Gameworks)

Ghostwire: Tokyo will drop as a PlayStation-console exclusive, ironically now owned by Microsoft and Xbox. Tango Gameworks' has been a bit quiet since The Evil Within 2, which is a grossly underrated stealth horror extravaganza that was perhaps a little too scary for its own good. Ghostwire: Tokyo seems like it'll be a lot more accessible for all types of players, taking on more of a supernatural thriller style in a broad and explorable immersive sim-style world. Spectacular graphics and twisted art will elevate the package further, alongside what is shaping up to be a haunting and memorable soundtrack.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is reportedly launching this March 2022 for PlayStation and PC, and will no doubt come to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S too after the year-long exclusivity period ends. If the glimpse I caught at this recent preview event is any indication, I think Microsoft and Tango Gameworks may have a bit of a hit on their hands.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!