Ghostwire: Tokyo is the new game from Tango Gameworks, the same team that worked on the classic Resident Evil franchise and the fantastic Evil Within series. Instead of a follow-up to their survival horror games, the developers at Tango are venturing into the realm of an action game, where you explore a chaotic downtown Tokyo that has been taken over by mythical monsters and demons inspired by Japanese folklore.
Coming to PC, PS4, and PS5 on March 25, Ghostwire: Tokyo has the making of an intriguing and visually cool action game just before the summer season hits. I recently took a deep look at the game’s combat and exploration, along with learning some insights from the dev team about the making of the game.
The plot of Ghostwire: Tokyo focuses on the story of Akito, a young man who has found himself trapped in the twisted supernatural version of the city. After forming a bond with an enigmatic demon, he gains newfound powers and weapons that allow him to fight against the new threats.
One of the producers working on the game is Shinji Mikami, who is the original director of the Resident Evil series at Capcom, and the The Evil Within games at Tango Gameworks. While his legacy is mostly known for being one of the pioneers of the survival horror genre, he has also worked on other action titles like Clover Studios’ swan song game God Hand, and Platinum Games’ Vanquish — both of which have their own cult followings.
With Ghostwire, the original idea came from former director Ikumi Nakamura, who became famous online during her Bethesda E3 2019 appearance. Originally it began as a game in set in a haunted Northern European locale, it was changed to Tokyo Japan after further fleshing out the concept. Though she has since department the project, her original vision has continued on with Tango, which will release in March.
“The foundation for the game was created by Ikumi Nakamura, and she saw it as a setting similar to Shibuya that has abnormal, paranormal things and entities inside of it,” said Mikami. “So we wanted to create something that is mysterious, that will get players to feel the gap of the real and unreal.”
On the surface, Ghostwire looks like a cross between Ghostbusters live action films and the anime series Bleach, with you stepping into the role of a character who has to exorcise demons to restore the city. However, the game goes a bit further by having you explore this new and corrupted version of an iconic city, using different powers to traverse the environment and even interact with supernatural characters that are looking to fit in.
The combat is entirely in first-person, and I liked seeing how fast and chaotic battles can get. By using different elemental powers, you can block strikes and counter with wind and fire magic to weaken, opening them up to an exorcism spell to finish them off. It all looked very slick in motion, and I can’t wait to see what other skills you can get.
From the demo I got to watch, I got a sense that Tango is trying to blend its talents for monster and world design into a more accessible action game with Ghostwire. The visuals of Ghostwire: Tokyo is striking, featuring some pretty creepy monsters that draw from folklore and the wave of Japanese horror films 1990s and early 2000s. Some of my favorite enemies were the ghostly salarymen demons who have the appearance of the Slenderman but are more depressed and hostile looking. Another favorite was the demonic headless schoolgirls who attack with an array of acrobatic moves.
According to the current director of the game, Kenji Kimura, he stated that the city of Tokyo was always a big inspiration for the team, and creating an original world where supernatural forces have taken over allowed for the team to be creative with many of the monster designs and locales.
“The city of Tokyo itself is a big inspiration for the team,” said Kimura. “It’s a mix of old and modern, and the motifs are based on a lot of things that are Japanese and culturally based on traditional stories or folklore, urban legends.These stories that we get told from like grandparents, or our parents when we were very young, to teach a moral lessons. Sometimes they’d be scary intentionally because they need to make that point. But we wanted to make sure that this was not a horror game, We wanted to take those elements from the cool things that we learned while growing up and put those into this experience.”
It’s a trippy looking game, and I was very impressed with how much detail was packed into the look of the world’s design and aesthetic. It’s a chaotic clash between a supernatural feudal-era Japan with present-day Tokyo, presenting a look that mixes neon lights and brutalist architecture and vibrant and lush old-world art.
Tango’s next game looks to be a big change of pace compared with the survival horror genre. Yet, even with the more fun and action-oriented atmosphere, it presents a very interesting and cool look at exploring a supernatural world. And that’s got me excited to see what sort of thrills and monsters will be packed into this adventure. I’m still hoping to see just how deep the game can get and what sort of direction the story will take, but it’s so far got my attention.
Ghostwire: Tokyo will release on PC, PS4 and PS5 on March 25.