Would you believe I didn’t see the original Ghostbusters films until…well, much, much later than I should have? I’m a child of the 80s, you’d think I’d have sucked in all that stuff by now, but nope. They still hold up, by the way, especially if you want to understand what’s happening in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I mention this because there’s some real ghostbusting vibes coming out of Ghostwire: Tokyo, the new spooker shooter from Tango Gameworks of The Evil Within fame.
So head to Japan, strap on your proton pack, and get ready to dive right in! Well, maybe leave the proton pack. You won’t need it here. You will need doggy treats, however.
Shibuya! It’s one of the centers of fashion and culture in Tokyo. We know it, we love it – at least if we’re fans of The World Ends With You. Fashion and culture require people, though, and lately Shibuya’s been suffering from depopulation. That’s because a Hannya-mask-wearing villain has pierced the veil between this world and the next, separating Shibuya’s citizens from their souls and inviting evil spirits to make mischief.
As the recently-revived Akito and his recent reviver and spirit pal KK, you’ll have to show that you ain’t, in fact, afraid of no ghosts by giving them all a good busting. By doing so, you just might be able to recover Akito’s sister and KK’s body. Just try not to think of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
Normal people don’t stand a chance against ghosts, of course, but Akito and KK aren’t any ordinary duo. KK has the power to sense and manipulate magical Ether energy, allowing Akito to wield it as a weapon against the paranormal. This manifests as various elemental abilities, such as wind blasts, a water shockwave and firey rockets; you can also find some other, more corporeal weapons like a sacred bow as well as powerful grenade-like talismans useful for dealing with groups of baddies.
When a ghost is weakened, its core is revealed, allowing Akito to move in for a quick DOOM-style instant kill. Combat in Ghostwire is snappy and enjoyable, though early on you might find your maximum ammo counts tend to be a bit too low for comfort.
Not to worry, though, as there’s a variety of upgrade systems you can use to help alleviate your ammo, damage, and health issues. There’s plenty of goodies to find all over Shibuya, from health-restoring food to ammo-boosting Jizo statues, and you’re constantly encouraged to scour the city looking for secrets. Ghostwire follows a fairly standard open-world formula, encouraging you to climb radio towers…I mean cleanse Torii gates to figure out where to go next, though early on the world’s a little more constrained than the average open-world explorer so you’ll have to follow the plot for a bit to get your fix.
As with most games of this nature there’s plenty of side quests to check out as well, though Ghostwire’s merit particular mention for being fantastic. Fans of Japanese culture and history will get a kick out of encountering classic yokai, to say nothing of the lovingly-written flavor text for pretty much every item and collectible you can find.
They’ll also really love Ghostwire’s graphical presentation, which is top notch, and its fantastic Japanese voice acting and localization. The developers absolutely knew what kind of people would want to play this one – Japanophiles and horror fans – and they made a game intended to work for both. Horror buffs in particular will enjoy the creepy monster designs, such as armies of umbrella-wielding Slendermen and half-spooky, half-hilarious floating sheet ghosts.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is a first-person shooter with open-world elements. It’s very Far Cry, in other words. More than that, though, it’s a celebration of Japan and all things Japanese much like the modern classic Ghost of Tsushima, and from that perspective it stands out as something truly unique. If bustin’ makes you feel good, you’ll probably feel good keeping the streets of Shibuya ghost-free and the puppers happy.