Despite having been some considerable time ago now, Evil Within developer Tango Gameworks’ Ghostwire: Tokyo has remained a bit of a hard one to pin down, with previous gameplay trailers leaving more questions than answers. Now, however, with the game finally sporting a 25th March release date on PlayStation 5 and PC, Sony has offered an extended look at its action in a new livestream showcase.
Tango Gameworks is calling Ghostwire: Tokyo a “supernatural action-adventure thriller”, and its story unfolds in an eerie, haunted version of Tokyo after nearly all the city’s population has mysteriously vanished. Players take on the role of Akito, a young man who awakens in a deserted Tokyo street to discover that strange elemental powers are coursing through his veins – soon revealed to be the work of a spirit known as KK who has possessed Akito’s body.
Based on Sony’s latest showcase, what transpires after that in gameplay terms is a combination of “non-linear” exploration and first-person combat as players deploy their arsenal of supernatural abilities to bring down some wonderfully designed spirits that put a modern spin on the traditional yokai of Japanese folklore – include putty faced men in suits (somewhere between Slenderman and Doctor Who’s Silence), headless school girls, malevolent children wearing yellow raincoats, even a fashionable woman with an outlandishly sized pair of scissors.
When players encounter these creatures (known as Visitors) during their travels through Ghostwire’s vibrant, lavishly rendered version of rain-slicked Tokyo, they’ll need to bring them down using a process known as Ethereal Weaving. There are still plenty of questions around how this works in practice, but we’re given a glimpse of the interplay between Akito’s various abilities during one scene where – having stealthed through an area of the city to rescue KK, armed only with a bow and arrow – his supernatural powers are finally restored, just in time to deal with a marauding wave of enemies.
Here, Akito uses a combination of attacks (Tango says moves are built around elements like wind, earth, and water) to first stun his supernatural pursuers, then “wire in” to them one by one, creating mystical threads can tear them apart. Later sections of Sony’s livestream showcase combinations of more elaborate moves – including special attacks, such as a dramatic fireball, linked to discoverable talismans – and we’re told that players will be able to free untethered souls as they explore the city, granting them experience used to upgrade their powers.
While Ghostwire: Tokyo’s unusual, seemingly fairly intricate combat system appears to be the focus of the experience, we do get a few glimpses of the exploratory structure surrounding the action. Players can, for instance, latch onto tengu yokai on their travels, enabling them to grapple up and away from the Tokyo streets onto its rooftops.
Among the discoveries they may find up here are corrupted tori gates that must be cleansed in order to clear the thick patches of deadly fog that complicate progress through the city. These fog patches harbour dark energy that drains Akito’s health and are rife with dangerous paranormal creatures, meaning eliminating them is vital to your success.
Occasionally too, players will encounter strange distortions in reality where time and space can’t be trusted. These surreal, visually striking set-piece moments appear to offer a more linear, structured form of gameplay in contrast to the open streets as Akito attempts to escape.
Quite how all these elements will come together remains to be seen, but there’s ample promise here – in Ghostwire: Tokyo’s appealing premise, its deliciously creepy enemy design, its unusual combat system, and evocative recreation of Tokyo – to leave me more than a little intrigued. We’ll know more in the run up to the game’s PlayStation 5 and PC release on 25th March.