Ghostwire: Tokyo is a the latest title from publisher Bethesda Softworks and The Evil Within series developer Tango Gameworks. But unlike the studio’s previous two works—a horror game and its sequel—Ghostwire: Tokyo is a paranormal action adventure game built upon the world’s most populous city. But minus the population.
In Ghostwire: Tokyo, most of Tokyo’s population has disappeared after a massive paranormal event. You play as Akito, a young man who finds himself fused with KK, a ghost hunter-turned-spirit. Together, they must explore Tokyo in search of the truth behind the mass disappearances, utilizing mystical arts known as “Ethereal Weaving” to confront the “Visitors” who have invaded the city, and track down the mastermind Hannya to crush his ambitions and save the city’s spirit, as well as Akito’s family.
In addition to the Visitors, yokai also appear throughout Tokyo, which you can catch to gain power and support. But yokai are not your only allies. You will also encounter other characters that will help you along your journey. These characters have lost something “deep in their hearts,” and you will confront Hannya as you chase after their lost loved ones. Using your mystical arts, your goal is to save people, exorcise the threats encroaching the city, and take back the peace.
Last week, Bethesda Softworks showcased a 30-minute, hands-off gameplay demonstration of Ghostwire: Tokyo to members of the press. It opened up in Shibuya, with Akito walking out onto the street from Central Hospital.
“Everybody’s gone… Did they all just vanish?” Akito wonders.
KK, infused with Akito, responds, “Probably. And if their plan’s working, communication with the outside’ll be cut off, too.”
KK is after Hannya, the mastermind behind the mass disappearances and the man who he has a personal vendetta against.
From there, the gameplay began. Akito walks through the deserted streets of Shibuya, littered with empty vehicles, bikes, and trash. He turns a corner to find a group of enemies—faceless, suited men carrying umbrellas—loitering near a glowing, blue torii gate. As Akito uses Ethereal Weaving to fight them off, their umbrellas gradually break apart, indicating their lowering HP.
After vanquishing the foes, Akito “cleanses” the torii gate, clearing the area of the fog that surrounds it and unlocking more of the map to traverse. Inside the shrine beyond the torii gate, Akito grabs a katashiro—a Japanese paper toll used as a talisman for purification purposes. These paper dolls will come in handy throughout the game.
Outside the shrine and back on the streets, in an area previously covered by the fog, a shiba inu can be seen barking at a group of enemies that just manifested—the same suited type from earlier. After blasting them with beams and pulling them apart with core grabs, they turn into spirits, which the katashiro from earlier can be used to absorb.
KK tells Akito to head for a phone booth. Unsure why, Akito listens, gathering some meika (currency) along the way. At the phone booth, KK tells Akito that anyone the fog turned into a spirit can be turned back to normal once they are sent outside the fog. This is done via the phone booth.
The pair continue along, making their way towards Yugenzaka. On the way, they encounter another suited enemy type and sneak up on him from behind, pressing L2 to “Purge” him in one strike. From there, they enter a convenience store, which without people in Tokyo, is now run by a cat.
KK clarifies, “Technically it’s a yokai. Must’ve come out when all the humans vanished.”
Nekomata, the yokai cat, welcomes Akito the human into its shop with a classic “meow” injection. (“A humeown in my shop!”) Nekomata has various goods that Akito can purchase, including katashiro. The more katashiro Akito possesses, the more souls he can absorb and hold at once. Naturally, it is the most expensive thing available for purchase at 3,000 meika. Other items available to Akito include Dog Food, which can be given to the dogs you encounter; Kibi Dango, which restores HP; and an assortment of other foods and snacks.
Across the street from the convenience store, Akito and KK head up the stairs of a small apartment complex and enters KK’s apartment. Inside, KK explains the situation to Akito. Anyone who touches the fog that has encroached the city disappears. At this point, KK estimates up to 100,000 people have vanished. But the real reason for checking in to the apartment is to grab KK’s crossbow, afforded to him by his old job.
As they head out, a barrier suddenly covers and threatens to crush the apartment complex. To break the barrier, Akito must find and destroy the multiple barrier stones within it. As Akito and KK search through the complex for the stones, including inside another apartment, the world begins to shift and distort—underworld interference because of the barrier. Akito continues to maneuver the apartment complex, turned upside-down and inside-out by the distortions, and eventually finds the last barrier stone, smashing it to finally destroy the barrier.
Outside the apartment, Akito and KK pursue the troublemaker that created the barrier. Using Spectral Vision, Akito is able to see and follow the trail of the perpetrator, leading him to the heart of the corruption. Akito destroys the corruption, and the spirits trapped by it escape, which Akito can in turn absorb with a katashiro.
“Probably a lot of spirits like that around the city,” KK says.
As they attempt to move forward, the troublemaker’s tail goes cold, prompting KK to suggest they take a detour to the nearby Shiroyama Shrine, where they might find something they can use. On the way, Akito spots a torii gate that needs cleansing on the roof. And coincidentally, a tengu yokai happens to fly by at the same time, allowing Akito to use his grapple ability to grab onto the tengu and shoot up to the roof, where he cleanses the gate and grabs another katashiro.
From there, we get a first look at the game’s menu screen, which contains tabs for missions, map, skills, inventory, and database. The map shows a partially revealed Tokyo, with all other areas of the city covered by fog. Torii gate markers can be seen atop the fog, and cleansing those gates will clear the fog to reveal more of the map. Shops and other icons are also visible, but the player moves the cursor to the “Zashiki-warashi” side mission. Fast travel is also possible.
In the skills tab, we see that the player currently possess three out of 31 abilities and upgrades, two out of 21 Ethereal Weaving, and one out of 16 pieces of equipment. New abilities and upgrades can be unlocked by spending skill points, which the player does to upgrade their Spectral Vision range to 40 meters, before jumping back into the game with the “Zashiki-warashi” side mission now the current objective.
Using his crossbow, Akito vanquishes a few more enemies, including a faceless woman in business attire, before purging another corruption and saving more spirits. This rinses and repeats as he moves forward, this time with headless schoolgirl enemy types thrown into the mix.
KK senses something nearby, and Akito makes his way there to find the spirit of an old woman, bound to her home in search of her zashiki-warashi. She is convinced her landlord has kidnapped her, since he has been badgering her to hand the zashiki-warashi over. She gives Akito some shio senbei (rice crackers)—zashiki-warashi love them, according to the old woman—and he heads inside to find it for her.
Inside, Akito encounters the landlord’s specter, which admits to kidnapping the zashiki-warashi. Akito uses a seal to exorcise him, which players can either form themselves with the touchpad or leave it to KK by pressing Square. After, Akito places the shio senbei in a blue dish and frees the zashiki-warashi. Back outside, the old woman rewards Akito and KK for their help and disappears, and the zashiki-warashi grants them power.
Now back on their main objective, Akito and KK head to Shiroyama Shrine, which is littered with enemies and several torii gates to cleanse, the majority of which Akito takes out through sneak attack purges or with the crossbow—not to forget some wind arts here and there. After cleansing all the torii gates and clearing the shrine of the fog, Akito and KK search the area.
At the shrine, players will have the option to pray, choosing to donate either 100 meika or 500 meika to make a wish. Wishes shown in the demonstration included wishing to find more Jizo statues, to find “what I’m looking for,” to recover health or SP, and “to eat the world’s most expensive sushi.” Akito wishes to find more Jizo statues, then heads into the shrine to pick up a fire ability. But before he can use it, the demonstration came to an end.
While the demonstration only showcased a small portion of Ghostwire: Tokyo, what was shown looks promising. If the idea of roaming around a highly detailed, open-world Tokyo was not enticing enough, the combination of yokai and supernatural abilities only serve to make the background even more appealing. And while I cannot say I will enjoy the gameplay quite yet, considering I have yet to play it myself, the setting alone is reason enough to keep an eye on it. I fail to think of any other video game that depicts Tokyo at the scale of Ghostwire: Tokyo. I just hope that it also able to deliver in story and gameplay.