Reviews for Ghostwire: Tokyo, an immersive sim from the makers of a game series so scary I can’t mention its name without collapsing in a fit of sobs, landed this morning. Publisher Bethesda Softworks did not furnish Kotaku with early access, because duh, so we’re experiencing the game, and its press cycle, alongside the rest of you. So far, opinions are all over the place.
As of this writing, Ghostwire: Tokyo is sitting at a 75 on Metacritic. Reviewers seem broadly taken with its setting—an iteration of the bustling Shibuya ward in which most of the population has mysteriously vanished, replaced by spirits trapped between realms—and its sheer attention to detail. On the other hand, the story, which stars dual protagonists (one human, one spirit), seems to fall flat. And the open world itself is plagued by the paint-by-numbers design that’s contributed largely to a wave of open-world fatigue. Meanwhile, some folks like the simplicity of its pared-down combat toolkit; others craved a bit more depth.
We’ll have our own thoughts on Ghostwire: Tokyo in due time. In the interim, here’s what everyone else is saying:
“Though Ghostwire: Tokyo may be metaphorically in line with a typical first-person shooter, it doesn’t feel much like one. Controls feel sluggish and swimmy to an extent that I swapped controllers because I thought something must have been malfunctioning. Jacking camera acceleration and deceleration to the max helps, but it’s no silver bullet. There’s also a much shallower pool of offensive abilities than you might expect in a modern shooter. How shallow? Well, you already know all the powers. Those three I listed above. That’s it.” — Justin McElroy
“I absolutely love the battle mechanics in Ghostwire: Tokyo. It’s a combination of three types of elemental damage, alongside melee strikes and archery. … Some battles take place in a sort of pocket dimension. These are not quite in one world or the other. The space is warped, with items shifting to block your path. This is typically the case for larger story or side quest missions. … I’m forty hours in and counting and one hundred percent willing to do it all over again. It’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun playing a video game, and I don’t want it to end.” — Annette Polis
“Shibuya itself is a sight to behold. … Ghostwire: Tokyo mashes together several different subgenres and styles, riffing on Cyberpunk 2077’s perspective, Yakuza’s neon lights and Japanese signage, and Shin Megami Tensei’s post-apocalyptic flavor. Yet it suffers from ‘Ubisoft sandbox’ syndrome. The open world feels like a checklist of activities and objectives to pad out a short campaign. What makes the exploration worthwhile are the numerous entertaining side-quests. You’ll find spirits that haven’t been able to pass onto the afterlife because of a certain regret tying them down.” — George Yang
“It’s combat, however, that fuels most of Ghostwire: Tokyo’s gameplay, and its system of elemental attacks offers a pretty fresh take on first-person ranged combat – it just doesn’t go far enough to develop it into something special. The presentation is excellent though, from the hand movements that accompany attacks through to the way enemy cores are revealed and then ripped away using ethereal strings. And while many of the enemies aren’t necessarily exciting to fight, I do like the idea of mixing the otherworldly and the mundane in their designs.” — Cam Shea
“The story’s shortcomings are disappointing considering the early potential of its alluring mysteries, but even this isn’t enough to detract from Ghostwire: Tokyo’s fantastic combat, setting, and world-building. … A significant reason why combat feels so gratifying is because of the way enemies react to your attacks. You might be fighting apparitions that have some basis in Japanese folklore, but you’re constantly ripping off these digital chunks to reach the inner core festering below the surface. All of the enemy designs feel like a reflection of Tokyo and its people, meshing modernity with the past.” — Richard Wakeling
“They don’t make many games like Ghostwire: Tokyo anymore. The latest release from Tango Gameworks, the studio behind the terrifying [redacted] series, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a big-budget action game with a very specific focus. It isn’t stretched out with an unnecessarily large open world or superfluous online features. Instead, it offers something pure and straightforward: a mix of action, adventure, and scares in a tight package that can be wrapped up in less than 20 hours.” — Andrew Webster
Push Square (6/10)
“Without even a hint of fall damage, [grappling and gliding are] a great way to get about. When your feet are on the ground, though, Ghostwire: Tokyo does very little to inspire. … While its combat system is fun in bursts, it becomes repetitive far too quickly. The open world is jam-packed with busywork, and the story doesn’t go anywhere interesting either. Excellent PS5 DualSense controller support, haunting elements, and nice visuals aside, Ghostwire: Tokyo will have to go down as a miss.” — Liam Croft
“By essentially killing every single resident in the game’s opening cutscene, Tango does paint itself into a bit of a corner though, as its take on Tokyo is inherently lifeless. To some extent that works—there’s an eerie beauty in exploring the abandoned streets, your only company the clothes left behind when the population vanished. But before long that isn’t enough, and the blame mostly falls on the fact that there simply isn’t much to do—and what’s there is frankly uninspired.” — Dominic Preston
“Ghostwire: Tokyo has a really strong sense of ‘place’. You’ll want to spend time in its world, even if there isn’t all that much to do or see in it. Combat is kinetic, but lacks any real sense of progression or power. Enemies are haunting, though lacking the intelligence to really challenge. [Protagonists] Akito and KK are good company, even as their adventures against the occult wanes over time. Ghostwire: Tokyo feels like a throwback, and there’s an unmistakable pull to its action and presentation. Some of you will long for more depth and variety, but others may just fall in love with the simplicity of hunting souls, convening with spirits, and slinging magic bullets beneath the beautiful Blood Moon of Tokyo.” — Josh West
“It’s okay. It’s an okay game.” — Greg Miller