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Ghostwire: Tokyo has us hungry for more horror after a spooky sample

We recently had a glimpse of what Ghostwire: Tokyo's supernatural urban adventure has in store for us, and it's feeling finely unsettling and breathtaking all at once.

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I’ve been very curious as to what exactly we were getting into with Ghostwire: Tokyo ever since the delightful ex-creative director Ikumi Nakamura introduced the game to us at E3 so long ago. I also wondered how it would turn out with her leaving mid-project. That said, after a recent preview of the Ghostwire: Tokyo, it seems like Tango Gameworks is taking on a whole new chapter of interesting horror and action design, and I can’t wait to see more of what their supernatural open world adventure holds for us.

The most unique of circumstances

In Ghostwire: Tokyo, players take on the role of Akito, who has just been in a pretty terrible motorbike accident on his way to see his ill sister at a local hospital. Akito should be dead, but a desperate spirit possesses his body as a vessel, extending his life at the cost of living a contentious existence with the spirit now trying to take full control of his body. As this happens, a fog descends on Tokyo that turns the physical forms of humans to dust and leaves their souls drifting free of their bodies. These souls become targets for a parade of demon Yokai referred to as visitors in the game. Akito’s state of near death and possession allows him to keep his body and he and the spirit realize they must work together if they are to survive this paranormal nightmare.

One of the most stunning parts of Ghostwire: Tokyo right out of the gate is Tango’s take on downtown Tokyo. Districts like Shibuya are lit up in a cavalcade of lights and advertising that shine through an ever-present fog of the city’s streets and alleyways. There is a wetness about everything that makes dew and puddles a constant array of twinkling reflection on the ground and various buildings, vehicles, and other objects throughout the world. Tango Gameworks’ sound design also feels on point so far as every bit of the town feels like it was bustling with life that abruptly came to a halt as the fog vaporized the humans inhabiting it. Music echoes through the streets from shops, TVs share reports and advertisements for the absent lives that were once watching them, and wind echoes through alleyways giving a constant airflow and motion to the ghostly state of the city.

Tango Gameworks has also gotten really good at their set pieces and this too is where Ghostwire: Tokyo put on some impressive early spectacles. With human life phased out by spiritual fog, ghostly spirits and Yokai (Japanese demons otherwise known as “Visitors” in this game) run amok. In areas infected by particularly strong spirits, the logical world melts around the player and normal environments shapeshift into twisted amalgams of themselves in real-time. A normal apartment infested by a malevolent force became a maze of upside-down rooms and tunnels in the back of closets. Reddened lighting with creeping blackness flowing along the walls as players try to escape provided an eerie sense of imminent danger. My early time with Ghostwire: Tokyo had me thinking of some of the best unsettling parts of games like Silent Hill and F.E.A.R. and have me wanting to see just how wild these paranormal experiences get in the full game.

Sending the Visitors packing

Another interesting aspect of Ghostwire: Tokyo has been both the encounters throughout its world and the combat by which you deal with a lot of it. All of the paranormal encounters in Ghostwire: Tokyo are based upon authentic Japanese legends with little twists here and there and it makes for some incredibly unsettling encounters. From faceless men in suits with umbrellas to headless school girls and more, run-ins with these foes are quite creepy, especially when you’re able to get close looks at them.

Not every Yokai is bad though. The small section of Ghostwire: Tokyo I played had nekomata running shops, tanuki asking me to help them find their friends, and doggos lending helpful advice and locating hidden items in exchange for a bit of puppy kibble. All encounters in this game are interesting takes on Japanese paranormal legend and lore and I love Tango’s creative adaptations of those familiar and perhaps not-so-familiar ghost stories.

Of course, when you need to throw down, that’s where the spirit possessing you serves quite the purpose. It gives Akito paranormal power to fight back against malicious Visitors and Yokai. Most enemies cannot be killed outright. You have to chip away their physical form and then rip out or destroy a spirit core inside to fully dispatch them. To this end, the spirit supplies you with a wind blast to start that can be fired at foes at range. However, you eventually also collect a spirit bow, fire and water elements, melee abilities, special techniques for destroying spirit cores at close and long range, and more. Getting stronger includes dispatching visitors, but also saving adrift human souls that can be found throughout the city.

Traveling through Tokyo is also an expansive freeform affair. The fog that dematerialized everyone lays thick in areas and will damage you if you touch it, cutting you off from freely exploring the city at will, but by finding and purifying Torii gates in various regions, you can lift the fog from an area and make more of the map explorable. As you do, more main missions, side missions from random spirits, and various other discoverable opportunities open up for your exploration. It’s a vast city, but the incremental way by which you unlock more to explore made it feel less overwhelming for what I saw.

Spiritual awakening

Ghostwire: Tokyo feels so much more expansive than I ever expected, but it’s also oozing style and substance throughout. I only got to play two chapters so far, but the narrative of Akito and the spirit possessing him trying to survive this paranormal city and find his sister have me hooked. If that wasn’t enough, the gorgeous visuals of the city and the interesting adaptation of ghosts, demons, and paranormal legend make me want to continue to see what kind of horrors lay deeper in the fog. I only scratched the surface of what Ghostwire: Tokyo has to offer. Now I’m all in to see where the spirits take me.


These preview impressions are based on an early PS5 version supplied by the publisher. Ghostwire: Tokyo is slated to come out on PS5 and PC on March 25, 2022.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 14, 2022 7:00 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Ghostwire: Tokyo has us hungry for more horror after a spooky sample

    • reply
      March 14, 2022 11:29 AM

      Awesome, My body is ready + https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-BkrwO_Dck :)

    • reply
      March 14, 2022 11:35 AM

      Any game that has anything similar to F.E.A.R.'s unsettling atmosphere is an automatic must-play for me. Really looking forward to Ghostwire!

    • reply
      March 14, 2022 11:59 AM

      This has been on my radar for a bit. Anyone know of deals for buying (or maybe even pre-ordering)?

    • reply
      March 14, 2022 3:19 PM

      Were you able to explore the UI options? I truly hope they allow us to configure which elements we can see on the screen, as I've discovered from Elden Ring, I love getting lost and exploring without having quest markers breathing down my neck.

      Somewhat related, I'm also hoping their keybinding config for PC is flexible and doesn't fall into similar trappings of "console first, PC after" titles.

      • reply
        March 14, 2022 3:21 PM

        Also, I think the article link in the YouTube video description leads to the wrong article

      • reply
        March 14, 2022 4:00 PM

        There is an entire section of the options menu dedicated the UI with toggles for a lot of the information that you can turn off and on as you please, including compass, player info (health, power), game info (quests), and minimap. There were also options for adjusting font and minimap size. Good suite of options for what you're looking for I think.

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