Ghostwire: Tokyo review

Is Bethesda's latest game a neon delight or a haunting nightmare?

Michael Duckworth
19th May 2022
Image: Bethesda
Bethesda Studios has published their latest action-adventure open world experience. This time you are let loose on the abandoned streets of Shibuya, tasked with fending off malicious spirits and Yokai while saving the innocent souls of the raptured public. All the while a mysterious masked figure known only as Hannya calls out to the souls of Tokyo, coaxing them to release themselves from the limitations of the body and to join his unholy crusade on mortality - or something like that. 
The cover art for Ghostwire: Tokyo.
Image: Bethesda

The main body of the game consists of wandering Tokyo at night. The map is incredibly expansive and accurately recreates both the built-up business sectors, as well as the quainter residential neighbourhoods, to create a remarkably life-like virtual Tokyo. The dark silent streets, looming fog and lurking creatures are all immensely successful in creating a haunting atmosphere, tapping into basic human fears of isolation and darkness.

the characters are tightly written and the group dynamic between the heroes becomes more endearing as time goes on

The combat is smooth and well-designed, being based on Kuji-Kiri and martial arts, the protagonist mostly uses their hands to fight which forces you to get up close and personal to some terrifying ghouls. However, it is rather one-note - there are three main elemental attacks, a bow and arrow used for stealth and a handful of item-based attacks. Yet all these elements lack depth. A wider spell pool or a combo system would elevate the combat to make the action elements as exciting as the adventure elements, or as thrilling as the horror elements. 

Despite a slow start, the story really picks up pace as you continue to explore the city; the characters are tightly written and the group dynamic between the heroes becomes more endearing as time goes on. The villains lack diversity, but each spirit is expertly designed with some element of Japanese culture or folklore integrated into their design.

A nekomata, a two-tailed cat yōkai that serves as a shopkeeper in Ghostwire: Tokyo.
Image: Bethesda

Similarly, many of the side quests feature popular urban legends and social fears coming to life. A subway station you can only arrive at if you are riding alone, a hidden staircase that leads to the abandoned basement of a shopping mall, that kind of thing.

While not a perfect game by any means, the gameplay loop of hunting down souls and fighting off ghosts is satisfying and addictive, and the concrete jungle of Tokyo makes for a fun playground to run, climb, and glide around in on your mission to save the city. 

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