Ghostwire: Tokyo Review

Richard Walker

Set within the eponymous city, whose population has been quite literally spirited away by an encroaching fog, Ghostwire: Tokyo is an unusual, rather unique prospect. Developed by The Evil Within creator Tango Gameworks (which counted Resident Evil alum Shinji Mikami among its ranks before his departure in February), the game is ostensibly horror fare, but it soon becomes clear that it's far less concerned with scares and more interested in engendering a creeping sense of unease. You play as Akito Izuki, a young fella whose limp body has been possessed by a former ghost hunter, known simply as 'KK'. Brought back to life, Akito must form a fragile alliance with KK, the pair relying on one another to achieve their aims. Doing so is remarkably enjoyable, perhaps more so than you might expect.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is a strange sort of hybrid – first and foremost, it's essentially a sort of supernatural first-person shooter, KK's powers enabling Akito to hurl elemental projectiles from his fingers with a Doctor Strange-esque flourish. It’s also an open world bristling with paranormal phenomena. Flicks of Akito's digits send neon green gusts of wind, spectral blue flashes of water, or white hot balls of flame searing across the screen. Known as 'Ethereal Weaving', there's something hugely gratifying about conjuring magical energy from your fingertips, chipping away at the shells of malevolent foes, referred to as 'Visitors', to expose their glowing crystalline spirit cores. Akito is then able to project a bright orange thread to forcibly pull the core from its gaping hole, causing enemies to burst in an eddy of sparkling dust, which gently disperses into the ether.

The head-on approach isn't always advisable, of course, and, to that end, Akito and KK have stealth options at their disposal. Entirely optional and very seldom thrust upon you, stealth is often the most viable approach to thin out enemy ranks, and, like fighting face-to-face, it is enormously satisfying, as you tiptoe towards an unaware Visitor and execute a 'Quick Purge', violently yanking the core from their chest, blank face contorted into an anguished rictus of panic as you do so. Your options expand as Akito accumulates Spirit Skill Points, drawn from untethered spirits floating all over the city, waiting to be rescued and absorbed by your Katashiro paper doll. It's then a case of dispensing said spirits at the nearest phone booth, where a secret number input opens a touchpad for transmitting spirits to the netherworld. It's all incredibly bizarre, but it works brilliantly.

And as you increase Akito's 'Synergy Level' with KK, you can acquire new skills and upgrades to existing abilities, while praying to Jizo Statues peppered across the expansive map increases the number of projectiles you can cast - in simple terms, it extends your ammo count. There's a lot of fighting to be done in Ghostwire: Tokyo, as Akito strives to save his sister, Mari, and KK looks to reunite with his estranged family. The game's slice of Tokyo is a generously proportioned open world, teeming with collectibles and Side Missions, so you can easily while away hours searching for mischievous tanuki disguised as seemingly innocuous everyday objects, chasing benign yokai demons for Magatama to unlock skill tree pathways, or helping put spirits with unresolved issues to rest. Cleansing corrupted torii gates, meanwhile, removes the surrounding fog, so you have even more of the city to explore.

One minute, you'll be sealing away a spectre whose hoarding habits have alienated his neighbours and isolated him, the next you might be tracking the source of corruption that's caused a little girl's piano playing to become eerily discordant, or helping someone escape a scissor-wielding Visitor in a hospital. None of the game's Side Missions feel at all surplus to requirements, either; some help to flesh out the overall story, revealing more about peripheral characters like KK's former ghost hunting partner Rinko, or the tragic stories of people whose time was cut short. With mysterious masked antagonist Hannya hellbent on imprisoning souls as part of a plan to merge the material world with the underworld, alongside other masked minions and an army of Visitors, it turns out you'll need all of the help you can get, too, making additional activities wholly worthwhile.

Gathering the game's currency of 'Meika', for instance, enables you to not only purchase useful consumable items from nekomata - floating two-tailed, kimono-clad cat merchants (brilliant, I know) - but also to acquire additional skill points by purchasing missing KK files, or to grab an extra Magatama or two. Collectibles can also be exchanged at certain vendors for an injection of bonus Meika, while feeding stray dogs will see them dig up cash for you as thanks. Eventually, you'll be able to summon a tengu as a deployable grappling point to zip to, enabling you to traverse Tokyo's rooftops, before gracefully leaping and gliding through the air, looking for anything tucked away across the city skyline. It’s a joy.

Unusual it might look, but Ghostwire's various ideas and Japanese folklore-inspired weirdness coalesce to make something utterly unique. After 35 hours spent completing every single Side Mission (a few more of which have been added via the new Spider's Thread update), polishing off the story, and maxing out Akito and KK's Synergy Level, it speaks volumes that I'm still compelled to return to Ghostwire: Tokyo to mop up the last few collectibles, and bag those final few spirits still lurking down alleyways and on rooftops. I'm a restless spirit with unresolved issues it seems, and I won't be laid to rest until every single thing in the game has been done and dusted.

As Tango Gameworks' first game not to be called 'The Evil Within', Ghostwire: Tokyo is something rather special. A remarkably interesting beast that defies conventional descriptors, it's crucially an experience that's never not fun. Spider's Thread mode adds a separate roguelike mode to delve into, too, meaning there's always something to do. Towards the end of Ghostwire: Tokyo, KK remarks that he and Akito just have to “play their game” if they want to defeat Hannya and his minions together, to which Akito replies, “not for too long I hope”. At that point I was sad the narrative was drawing to a close - I'd have been more than happy to “play their game” for far longer.

Ghostwire: Tokyo

Wonderfully, uniquely esoteric, Ghostwire: Tokyo is like little else. A cracking first-person paranormal yarn ripe with fresh ideas, oddly endearing characters, and an immersive world to explore, this is Tango Gameworks' most assured and accomplished game to date. Get wired in.

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A sparingly deployed soundtrack, which gives the atmospheric effects room to unsettle. The interplay between Akito and KK, as the voice in his head, is consistently superb, too.


Whichever of the multiple graphical modes you plump for, Ghostwire: Tokyo looks fantastic. The city really feels alive on Xbox Series X|S, and the game's supernatural denizens are suitably spooky.


Stalking Tokyo's streets is constantly immersive, but it's the innate joy of wearing down foes with Akito's Ethereal Weaving, then tugging the core from their chest that makes Ghostwire such unbridled fun.


An expansive and detailed open world to traverse, with all manner of secrets and Side Missions to tackle. It's all very polished and well-presented, too, although, if we're nitpicking, we'd say the action can get a tad repetitive at times. The Spider's Thread update adds even more value.


A varied achievement list for the most part, with some neat and fairly inventive objectives. Unfortunately, there are some pretty crummy missable achievements in here, however, and absorbing 100% of the spirits scattered across Tokyo will take ages.

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