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I swear, almost every scenery I have come across has made me think my eyes were going to fall out. They seriously outdid themselves.

I am now prepared for Mortal Kombat 1, bring it on Ed

I’m gonna whip up a lot of word salad about this game, but the following two words sums it all up succinctly:
Wasted potential.
I remember thinking those teasers and trailers looked so damn cool.
After being disappointed by the middling reception to this, I had hoped that this would join my personal pantheon of flawed open world games that flopped critically but I ended up really enjoying anyways; like Mad Max, and Days Gone before it.
It doesn’t quite get there, sadly.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is a mixed bag of positives and negatives, blending together oftentimes in a frustrating mix of “what could’ve been.”
I’ll start by waxing poetic about its most potent strengths in my eyes. The art direction and audio/visual presentation is top notch. The representation of an abandoned, foggy and rainy Tokyo is a treat to get lost in. It reminds me of those walking tours of Tokyo videos on youtube that I love to watch and have on in the background, only this has many stray shiba inu, headless school girls, and mummy-esque salarymen who are out to kill you. I just love a rainy city with bright lights everywhere. In this game’s version of Shibuya, it’s never felt more bereft of people. Gone are the countless hordes of citizens and tourists. Ghostwire’s Shibuya is chillingly empty and they do a good job of making it feel that way. But even still, as in other aspects of the game as a whole, it gets in the way of itself. The atmosphere is rendered less effective the more they remind you of its modern open world format, relying heavily on its Ubisoft-ness, its icon vomit, its droppings of little collectible shit everywhere. When the game gives you room to just enjoy the atmosphere of the barren and melancholy Shibuya, it’s great, but it won’t be long before they remind you that this is a video game-ass video game. The atmosphere also shines in some of the interior sections, such as the underground subway, or the multitude of other interiors that the main story takes you to. For me these sections never got quite as intense as I felt the developers intended, but visually they’re on point in terms of lighting, scale, and design.
This game is dripping in Japanese-ness. The artifacts, the lore, the aesthetic, the locations, even the food. Yokai and Oni wander the world to be interacted with. You pray at shrines to buff your abilities. You can find disguised tanuki. There are floating cat shopkeeps. You collect traditional artifacts and relics like various dolls, masks, pottery, trinkets, and weapons. You have a wide selection of food to eat to restore health like takoyaki, rice balls, soba, ramen, and the like. The villain is a guy in a Hannya mask. A lot of this ties into the game’s thematic elements, the world, and even some of the side quests. They do a good job with this stuff.
The story here is… decent I think. The game dips its toes in themes of grief, remorse, and atonement, and is concerned very much with the philosophical values of life, death, and the afterlife. The main vehicle through this is the player character Akito, who gets wrapped up in all of this paranormal weirdness through his personal journey of looking for his comatose sister Mari. Right as Tokyo gets decimated by the spirit weirdness and becomes a ghost town, his body gets partially taken over by a wraith named KK, who has his own reasons for soldiering on in search of redemption and resolution. The general conceit of this plot is to hunt down Hannya who has taken Mari and is planning to use her in a ritual sacrifice so he can do more bad guy things like blending together the worlds of the living and the dead so he can resurrect his dead family. In terms of earning any real literary impact from the heavy themes it tries to portray and utilize, the writers don’t really deliver in my opinion. But I applaud them for trying. Sometimes the writing is kind of lacking and clunky in spots, and personally I would like to see more aspects of this interesting world to be elaborated on, but I also see the value in keeping things a mystery. The ending here, though, I think does deliver to a degree in terms of resolution for Akito and KK’s personal stories.
Let’s dive into the nitty gritty: the actual gameplay. This is an open world shooter where your fingers are the guns. You shoot cool magic shit at weird enemies. And it feels fine for the most part. You have your high-ammo high-fire rate wind projectile that is your weakest magic. You have your fire magic which has the lowest ammo but the highest damage output. And your water magic has limited range, but can hit in a wide attack, and is in-between wind and fire when it comes to ammo and damage. You also have a bow which is your standard video game bow. You can buff any of these powers by equipping various prayer beads. As a FPS, the actual aiming here could’ve been better. It sometimes feels too sensitive with a controller, even when adjusting for this in the menus.
Now the actual application of these abilities is where things get suspect. Enemies are sponges. While you can certainly do some damage with skill tree buffs and equipped beads, and holding in magic for a stronger attack, on normal mode there’s a lot of standing and strafing around just firing off this magic at your enemies. After a while this became tiresome to me, so I ended up playing large chunks of this game on easy mode. They also give you talismans with various abilities like stunning enemies, or throwing a decoy to lure away enemies so you can sneak behind them for a stealth kill, or making it easier to expose their ‘core’ - which is sort of like DOOM’s glory kills. These talisman abilities are hardly useful I’ve found. You also have a super special meter to unleash with your L3 + R3 buttons and it acts as a AoE stun attack that slows down time and this also isn’t quite as useful as it could be.
Early on in the game I was quite down on this game’s enemy variety. It takes a while before you get to fight some newer, more complex baddies (or ‘visitors’ as they’re called.) Visually I think they’re great. As I mentioned earlier in this review, there’s headless school girls prancing about merrily, lanky salarymen in suits that cover their weird mummified-mannequin appearance. There’s tanky salarymen who use their umbrellas as shields. There’s large creepy ghost women who can do special grab attacks on you that separate you from KK, your wraith partner who guides you through all the weirdness. This is kind of an interesting mechanic that I think they could’ve done more with, where your abilities are taken away from you and you only have your bow. But it’s never hard to reconnect yourself to KK. And it’s also not hard to simply dodge those grab attacks, or any attacks. There’s not much actual difficulty to be had here other than enemies being health sponges. Later on in the game they throw freakier and stronger enemies at the player, like serpent-like creatures that swim around in the pavement and surface to attack you. These enemies are very annoying. All in all, I think the enemy variety is actually alright and I’m glad they ended up showing me more than just the basic enemies near the start.
There’s stealth here too, and while it’s useful, I find it’s hard to actually properly utilize. The vision cones of the enemies are very forgiving, and they don’t seem to be able to hear well at all, but to actually be successful at sneaking behind them is often a gamble. Another enemy is usually nearby to see you, or they turn around at the last second. There’s some odd AI behaviors to be observed here. Once you get close they seem to almost always begin to turn around and you have to strafe behind them. Not a big deal, but it’s a bit immersion breaking because it’s like, “why can’t you see me, I’m right beside you?”
Traversal is a must here. The map is massive. You don’t have any vehicles of the sort. There’s a reliance on verticality that I was not anticipating, but it was implemented fairly well and it’s worth it to get up to the top of buildings, though it can feel like a cumbersome process. There’s ladders and construction lifts, as well as flying static Yokai that seemingly only exist for the player to do some magic tethering to so they can get up to the top of buildings. This sort of limited grappling hook mechanic feels something the devs tacked on late in development after realizing the player has little means of climbing buildings, which is sometimes an important part of the game. I could be wrong, of course. You also have a gliding ability that is often useful, but limited, even when you upgrade it via spending skill points. There is no fall damage so it doesn’t matter if you mistime a glide and it runs out, but it’s sometimes a bummer when you find yourself back on the ground after spotting something you wanted to check out on a rooftop.
Among the game’s many Ubisoft-like qualities, there’s of course Ghostwire’s version of unlocking segments of the map: torii gates to cleanse and literally lift some of the fog from the map. And that map? Ho boy I haven’t seen unrepentant icon vomit like this in a while. The map is a mess with mission icons, shop icons, collectable icons, prayer statue icons, and the like. This game also has an annoying way of letting you know about side quests in the HUD, meaning it’ll automatically track anything you agree to do, and you have to manually un-check it from the mission menu, but it’ll automatically reappear on your screen eventually. So I just turned that off from the UI settings completely, which thankfully they allow. And of course, you have your magic radar vision like in most modern open world games. I don’t mind it here, though, because so many objects are small and/or blend in with the environment.
Speaking of a cavalcade of icons, this game has a lot of collectibles. Relics, hidden tanuki, graffiti tags, pieces of lore to read, and bountiful amounts of spirit clumps for you to absorb so you can return them to a telephone booth. These are basically lost spirits of missing people in Shibuya you’re recovering, and there’s 240,000 in total. You usually get around 100 at a time, and you can increase how many you can carry at once. Even though you can get larger clumps via missions or defeating waves of enemies, it takes a long time to collect that many spirits. In a leisurely 35-hours I only collected just over 25%, and I sometimes went out of my way to collect them. It’s worth doing to a small extent because it does reward you with decent XP. But is it necessary? Not really. However, I do appreciate that these spirits, and the ones that give you side quests, say things which play into the game’s themes of remorse, guilt, and death, and they add to the overall melancholy vibes.
This game also has a hefty amount of side quests. Some are the typical ‘go here, kill these things, come back for reward’, or ‘go here, collect thing’, but some are more involved than that and might be worth doing for players who enjoy this world and want to spend more time in it. In terms of reward though, I found them to be very lacking. This game is very proud of its photo mode. I normally couldn’t care less about photo modes in games, and I extremely did not care when this game heaped on dozens, if not hundreds, of photo mode-related collectables at me. I do not care about my outfits in a first person game, I do not care about stickers and emoticons and filter effects for the photo mode.
You can also collect music tracks, which is just music from the OST, and it’s just another thing to find or spend money on at shops. The music is fine, though, and you can have the option to have your makeshift music player in the menu play while you roam around the city. I didn’t do this much, as I generally just preferred to roam around without music.
One thing I really like about this game is the abundance of dogs and cats that are just around and you can use your magic ethereal powers to read their thoughts. Some of this is admittedly pretty amusing. You can pet the dogs and give them food and the dogs will dig up some money for you or lead you to something useful. The cats, as expected, are nonplussed by you and by the fact that their surroundings have changed completely. Games need more animals and they especially need more animals with thoughts and I want to know what those thoughts are. Thumbs up on this one, Tango.
They’ve also released a free rogue-lite mode called Spider’s Thread. I didn’t engage with this much but it felt competent enough to me. But it absolutely hinges on how much you enjoy the combat, and I didn’t like the combat enough to justify spending several more hours with it. Still, though, I’m always in favor of devs releasing free post-launch content.
There’s some pretty good set piece sequences here with the main missions. There’s linear parts where you’re going through buildings and rooms and the environment around you is shifting and changing and it can get very cool and weird. It sort of reminds me of Control when you go through the Ashtray Maze. Ghostwire excels here and it makes me wish the game was a more focused and linear experience. These sections combined with the game’s visuals and art direction are very much on point.
Conceptually there’s a lot I really like about this game. I couldn’t help but think at times, “man what if Arkane (when Arkane was good) crafted these levels, and what if Remedy designed this combat?” Because in many ways this game just got me up to only let me down, even though I do think it is mostly a positive experience. When this game leaned into being weird and atmospheric, it excelled, when it brought you back to the paint-by-numbers open world stuff, it served as a harsh reminder of what this thing really is and what it’s not. The game sometimes feels at odds with itself and most of this is because of the open world. And I’m certainly not a hater of open world games. Ghostwire: Tokyo just didn’t need to be one of them.
Played on PS+. It’s worth a download for anyone curious. And if the positives of this game sound good to you, then it’s worth a discounted purchase on sale.
What could’ve been. Oh well.

This time around I googled “how to enjoy majora’s mask” and some guy in an old reddit thread said “smoke weed” and I think his advice really helped the game finally click for me

People who say this game is good are either nostalgia cucks or legitimate asylum escapees, you do not take a legitimate opinion from both population groups. Only reason I gave this a 2 star because of the story other than that it's not good.

completely broke rn ugh. have to travel everywhere on foot which is really annoying but at least i have the boots of blinding speed. doing various mage guild quests atm but they all pay like, 2 drakes -__- i usually try to get the armour from black hand guys and sell that but they havent been showing up recently. and all my equipment is bust so i'd probably die tbh.

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