Ghostwire: Tokyo, the cool new Tango Gameworks project about chatting up spirits and fighting ghastly humanoids, has managed to pull me away from Elden Ring. It’s a nice reprieve. Ghostwire is nowhere near as hard as FromSoftware’s latest Souls-like. So rather than roaming a vast, haunting open world and getting absolutely decimated by melancholy monstrosities in the Lands Between, I’m stalking the dark streets and narrow alleys of Tokyo, feeling badass, blasting enemies with magic spells that fly forth from my fingertips. There’s still a challenge to be found here though, and while I’m not ready to give my full thoughts on Tango Gameworks’ new supernatural action-RPG just yet, what I can say is that I don’t worry much when I do get whopped on. That’s because healing in this game rules!
Being an open-world game, Ghostwire: Tokyo lets you pick up healing items like dumpling skewers and strawberry desserts littered around Shibuya’s spooky streets. You can also buy them from various shops operated by yokai called nekomata, two-tailed ghost cats that sleep floating in the air. There’s a limit to how many consumables you can carry at one time–three to start–but that capacity can be increased up to 10 by upgrading a particular skill in the Equipment category. This is a godsend in combat encounters where you’re likely to blast through your consumables.
Naturally, the healing items do the obvious thing of replenishing your health. There are also some known as spectral food that offer unique passive bonuses, such as boosting a spell’s power for a short time. Whether normal or spectral, though, all food and drinks have one crucial additional effect, the one that makes me love this game’s healing system: they increase your maximum health points. That’s right, by simply using consumables, you permanently increase the amount of health protagonist Akito has overall.
I love this because it does two things. The first is tied to how we play games, or rather, how games have conditioned us to play them. What I mean is, if you’re anything like me, you probably hoard many of your potions and other healing items, perhaps imagining some climactic boss fight in which you might finally put them all to good use. When you roll a game’s credits, you come to find out that those items you stockpiled, while useful, went unused for any number of reasons. You can mostly do that in Ghostwire: Tokyo, too, holding onto consumables indefinitely. But since healing items also increase your health points, you’re encouraged to snack whenever you don’t have full health. You not only get some health back, but you’ll also deepen your overall health pool. Sweet!
Secondly, this neat little system also incentivizes you to play more aggressively, and maybe to experiment with other equipment and spells too. Unfortunately, combat in Ghostwire can be boring and tedious. The enemies aren’t that smart, charging you head-on most of the time instead of strategizing to force you to mix things up. But by giving you health and increasing the health bar, healing items encourage you to take that chance charging the slow-but-powerful fire grenade or using some other risky tactic. Or if you wanna get all up in their faces, the game’s plentiful, magical, health-restoring, health-increasing food items mean you can do so without worrying too much about biting the dust. Go ahead, snack up and stay alive!
Using healing items isn’t the only way to increase your maximum health points, either. Much like other action-RPGs, leveling up in Ghostwire: Tokyo is another way to pump up your HP. But folding the concept of increasing your overall health stat into the actual mechanic of healing yourself is a cool idea I’ve not seen before. And it’s something I hope more games try to implement in the future. Not all of Ghostwire: Tokyo’s systems work, but the way it handles healing definitely does.