On PS5, PC. [Test] Ghostwire Tokyo: Spirits in the Mist

In these lands, they are omnipresent. Hidden under the stones of a river, lodged in a tree, anchored to their mountain or nestled in the recesses of the home, the yokai are an essential part of the daily life of the Japanese. A culture within culture, in a world where the imperatives of modernity and ancient, popular beliefs are constantly side by side, linked to a nature where the supernatural has always had the right of citizenship. Monsters and ghosts have always been citizens of the archipelago, and they find their place there on a daily basis, even in villages and cities. They are there, good or bad, a reason for pride.

That they nourish and inspire the video game is, as such, nothing of a surprise. But it’s in a fun wink that Ghostwire Tokyo brings them to life in the heart of the Japanese capital itself, in neighborhoods that ostensibly and noisily free themselves from the past. A mist rises, people die, disappear, and suddenly, on the famous crowded crossroads of Shibuya, the famous hiyakki yako, the parade of the hundred demons popularized in the West by a cartoon by Ghibli, Pompoko. The supernatural invites itself in the middle of the skyscrapers, the city is silent, the player is dazed. The game can begin.

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Symbiotic relationship

Ghostwire Tokyo reveals itself with modesty, without rushing. From the scenario, it is difficult at first to measure all the issues, even if the main driver of the plot, the need to rescue his sister, is enough to encourage the player to move forward. But the beautiful idea of ​​the title is undoubtedly to make the hero, Akito, cohabit with the soul of a deceased exorcist detective, KK, determined to pursue the great antagonist of the adventure. A colocation in a single body which reveals itself little by little to be savory, profound, as the two characters get to know each other, to understand each other, then to respect each other. It feeds the plot with regular conversations, like an Ariadne’s thread, preventing the player from feeling completely isolated in these vast abandoned urban environments.

The other strong point of this almost symbiotic relationship is that it gives Akito the ability to face the thousand and one dangers of this disturbing epic. While this is a paradox, since while these powers are undeniably impressive, it is perhaps here, too, that Ghostwire is least surprising: with no conventional weapons at its disposal, except for a bow with mystical abilities, Akito will often have to face hostile yokai by calling on elemental powers (water, air, fire, via so-called “weaving” abilities) that are ultimately quite undifferentiated, and by multiplying the jutsus in the area touch of the pad to exorcise all manifestations of the afterlife showing hostility. For the sake of honesty, it must be recognized: in terms of pure and hard action, in this open world with limited dimensions, the gameplay shows in the long run a certain repetitiveness.

Almost supernatural addiction

However, it would be a shame to remain with this discreet impression of frustration. While the action phases tend to resemble each other, whether they are played in the middle of the city or in more ethereal spaces where the plot is sometimes teleported, we never feel, or almost, the fear of getting bored. First, because the game knows how to manage its effects, and regularly revives its plot in a few harrowing sequences as desired. Then, above all, because Ghostwire Tokyo is conceived above all as the exploration of a fascinating bestiary, especially not Manichean, where beneficial spirits and much less peaceful manifestations of the supernatural collide. The great strength of the concept developed by the studios of Shinji Mikami, under the direction of Kenji Kimura, is that it approaches the world of yokai in all its complexity, here beneficial, there harmful, sometimes Janus whose face depends on humans who invoked them. If the world of the spirits invited itself into that of men, it did so in all its complexity.

From this postulate stems a constant discovery, as well as a furious desire to understand and listen. Beyond the average enemies (soggy faceless walkers, decapitated schoolgirls…) and the torii to unbewitch, which have no other vocation than to offer a challenge to overcome, it is above all in the exploration of the city and secondary missions that Ghostwire Tokyo reveals all its interest, lessons in folklore to boot. Here, they are nekomata (cats) who invest the Seven/Eleven to replace the missing traders, there, inu (dogs) who suggest one or the other task against substantial profits. Throughout the city, we come across tanuki (raccoon dogs), which must be flushed out, tengu, which we can cling to to reach the roofs of the city. And then there are those slightly pilfering kappas that you have to get rid of, or those more recent urban legends, like Hanako San, that you dread having to come across. Sometimes, certain mini-plots even lift the veil on superstitions with a more elaborate story, like the zashiki-warashi, a child’s spirit reputed to bless homes with its presence, but that we would be wrong , terribly wrong, to want to sequester against his will…

Urban paradise

And then, finally, comes this character, central, omnipresent, which the adventure cannot do without. The city of Tokyo is the lung of the Ghostwire experience, the studio having worked to create an eloquent reconstruction carried by an impressive 3D engine. The streets may be abandoned, but everything here rings true and true. The small melodies of the stalls that we visit, the map of the winding alleys linking the main boulevards, the specific luminosity of this urbanity of neon lights and giant screens that are never sleepy, the tiny town houses with neat gardens, the cramped paradox of the accommodations that we are led, here and there, to explore… We could cite so many and more, the fact remains that the discovery is hypnotizing, and reminds those who have tasted this culture how much the closure of the country’s borders, due to a pandemic, is painful.

It is perhaps there, moreover, the secret of this fascination that Ghostwire Tokyo exerts on the player. In a world where the elsewhere has for the moment become much more inaccessible, Tango Gameworks manages, on the register of anguish, to make its playful proposal a beautiful and convincing invitation to travel and openness. Of course, it goes without saying…

In short

Ghostwire Tokyo, published by Bethesda, developed by Tango Gameworks, on PS5 and PC

WE love :

– Visually, it’s a slap: the streets of Tokyo are glaringly true

– A very worked sound atmosphere, which knows how to underline the dreamlike aspect of the game, but also the most distressing moments

– A game system that uses psychic powers and jutsus, it’s frankly stylish

– A fairly discreet story, but which constitutes a solid backbone for this title which we want to see the end of

– The relationship between Akito and KK, who share the same body, is successful

– A great way to familiarize yourself with the world of Japanese yokai

We like less:

– Admittedly, the gameplay, in the action phases, is a bit repetitive

– The game map lacks readability

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On PS5, PC. [Test] Ghostwire Tokyo: Spirits in the Mist

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