There’s ghostbusting, and then there’s ghostbusting channeled through the maniac mind of the legendary Shinji Mikami. In Ghostwire Tokyo you’ll deal with sinister spirits, ghost children, and cat shopkeepers, all while brandishing a range of spectacular spells to purge the streets of eerie enemies. From our latest look, the gameplay is shaping up to be a beautiful cocktail of old-world occult and urban neon.
In case you need a recap, the Tango Gameworks title is set in a Tokyo where a strange fog has caused the city’s population to vanish, and a bunch of ill-intentioned spirits called Visitors has replaced them. Luckily, this catastrophe has coincided with hero Akito becoming “fused” with a veteran ghost hunter known only as KK and developing supernatural powers. These new talents allow him to fight the Visitors and collect up the lost spirits with some very dramatic-looking hand gestures. Think Gandalf doing Kung Fu, all glowing strands and technicolor bursts of light. The ultimate goal is to find the villain behind it all, Hannya, no doubt named for the demonic Noh theater mask they wear.
Another string to your bow
One power, Ethereal Weaving, lets you pull the core of the ghost out like a tumor, another – Spectral Vision – allows you to follow the tracks of a suspicious character like a demonic detective. You can stealth your way towards the Visitors, or go full frontal with your spells. Benign lost spirits that float in the air like a blue cloud can be trapped safely inside paper effigies called Katashiro and channeled into hacked phone boxes to increase your powers. During the gameplay demo, after using magic to break the seal and enter your ghostly sidekick KK’s home – there’s a place that could use some Marie Kondo – Akito also got a fancy-looking bow, which immediately came in handy when he needed to dissolve a magical barrier that trapped him in the building by finding and shooting its source, glowing barrier stones.
What could have been a fairly tedious game of hunt the rock turned into a fever dream as the barrier caused the building to shift and morph, walls bubbling with black slime, strange murals appearing, and gravity losing its grip so the walls become floors. From a spectator’s perspective, it looked challenging to navigate, but also like some of the most visually exciting level design we’ve seen in a while.
Raining cats and dogs
We also got a sense of the different ways you can get deliciously distracted from saving Tokyo. There are convenience stores run by otherworldly cat creatures where you can stock up on food, paper Katashiro, and – gasp – dog treats, which will no doubt help with our personal quest to pet all the dogs after that important gameplay feature was confirmed by Mikami himself (opens in new tab). Out of the shop and down the street, an old woman enlisted Akito’s help to find her lost Zashiki-warashi, an entity that likes to live in storage rooms and can bring good luck. It turns out the spirit, who appears as a small child, is being held captive by the specter of the landlord.
The design of the enemy Visitors, drawing inspiration from Japanese folklore, is unnerving in the best possible way. Faceless men with suits and umbrellas – looking like The Gentlemen from that famous Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode – and flying Tengu. There are headless schoolchildren, women bearing upsettingly large scissors that don’t look like they’re for papercrafts, pint-sized ghosts in yellow raincoats who can summon other Vistors when discovered, a woman in a white bridal kimono that does not look as though her big day went well. Between Akito’s powers and the bow, it feels as though there will be special tricks to taking this horde of nightmares on, but whatever they are you can bet it’s going to look and feel fantastic.
Between the action and the futuristic edge to the occult shenanigans, Ghostwire Tokyo is definitely not to be confused with survival horror, it looks more like a ghost train ride that runs on rollercoaster tracks. Hold onto your adrenaline glands until it’s released on PS5 and PC on March 25.