Ghostwire: Tokyo is the new game from Tango Gameworks, the studio founded by Resident Evil mastermind Shinji Mikami which brought us The Evil Within series. People in Tokyo are mysteriously disappearing and you are tasked with figuring out what’s going on while using your supernatural powers to battle eerie creatures. We recently got out first look at the gameplay, and it enticed us, but also left lingering questions. We sat down with game director Kenji Kimura to learn more about what's in store for this creepy action adventure game and how the PS5 is enhancing the experience.
What are some of the inspirations behind Ghostwire: Tokyo?
Japan’s diverse culture and the city of Tokyo’s many faces have given us a lot of inspiration. Also, many ideas were inspired by Japanese Yokai folklore, fables, modern day urban legends and famous scary stories which are scattered throughout the game.
Can you discuss some of the creative process and your biggest goals for the game?
Our main goal is to ensure that players have a lot of fun and enjoy the exploration, the action, and battles within the world of Ghostwire: Tokyo.
To create our version of Tokyo, we not only wanted to add iconic landmarks and locations, but also locations that only locals might know – places that feel deep, mysterious, and interesting… the kinds of places that make our spines tingle. By squeezing all these into the game, we turned the city into a surprising, original version of Tokyo that can be enjoyed by those new to the city and those that know Tokyo inside and out.
What can you tell us about the main character and the overall story?
We can’t go into detail yet, but the protagonist is in a very special situation faced with various challenges. A miraculous encounter gives the protagonist paranormal abilities, through the use of hand gestures, to save an endangered Tokyo from an unprecedented event caused by unknown beings.
The latest trailer looked much more action-packed than the previous reveal. Has the game shifted any in tone or concept since the change in directors?
The atmosphere of our original version of Tokyo, the variety of experiences, quality of the visuals, etc., have always remained the same. The announcement trailer debuted at BE3 2019 introduced the world and atmosphere of Ghostwire while the recent gameplay trailer showcased actual gameplay and combat to highlight how dangerous our Tokyo is.
It’s said this is more of an action game with horror elements and themes. How much are you delving into the latter, and how do you balance the spookier tension with the action-packed combat scenes?
Ghostwire: Tokyo is an action adventure game, not a horror game. That being said, there will be moments of spookiness and mysteriousness. Because we are using Japan as the setting, we hope to deliver a fun experience packed with ominous, mysterious, and spooky elements based on Japanese Yokai folklore, fables, urban legends, and famous scary stories.
How would you say this compares to Tango Gameworks’ past projects, and what do you think will surprise fans?
Ghostwire: Tokyo takes the strengths of Tango Gameworks – such as realistic graphics, creating atmosphere, and eerie vibes –and evolves them in a slightly different direction. This gave birth to an ominous, mysterious Tokyo that one might even say is eerily beautiful.
The challenge of making an action adventure game has given us an opportunity to create a different kind of fun when compared to what we previously offered. This is something that we hope players will enjoy because it allows for gameplay focused on exploring the city of Tokyo, solving a deep mystery, and overcoming various challenges and threats through the use of special abilities inspired by traditional Kuji-kiri hand gestures.
It looks like we have a lot of supernatural powers to use against enemies. What are some of your favorites and why?
The protagonist wields supernatural powers through the use of a combination of hand signs for various abilities. Each ability is cool and distinct in its own way. While the hand gestures in the game aren’t exact replications of Kuji-kiri, we hope players enjoy the numerous actions that are linked to the hand movements.
We showed my favorite power in the gameplay trailer – grabbing the cores from the Visitors. The animations and the effects combine to create this awesome feeling of ripping something out of an enemy and heightens the sense of victory against strong foes.
You use Kuji-kiri-inspired hand gestures to cast spells. Can you discuss more about this element and how you’re implementing them into the game?
The protagonist uses various combinations of hand signs to employ various abilities throughout the course of the game. These gestures are not just for combat either, but also for exploration, to solve problems and mysteries, and to allow for different approaches for the player to progress through Tokyo.
How does progression work in terms of gaining and upgrading your powers?
As the game progresses, the player is able to power up each of the abilities so they can build out their favorite playstyle.
The newest trailer showed several Torii – what do these mean in the world of Ghostwire: Tokyo?
The Torii are a very important visual motif for Ghostwire: Tokyo and have deep significance in both the game and in the story. That’s all I can reveal for now!
Why did you think Japan would make an interesting backdrop for the game? What are some of the different locales you wanted to include? As a follow-up, do you think American and European audiences will have the same connection to the setting?
Ghostwire’s version of Tokyo is a unique, supernatural adaptation of the metropolis. It has the fun parts, with famous and iconic locations and landmarks condensed tightly together.
Our Tokyo also features a strong contrast of light and shadows with neon lights and billboards. It blends the cutting-edge future with traditional culture, creating a mysterious, even spooky "feel” at times. With so many buildings and the variety of the city – it’s almost like a forest of buildings, with picturesque skyscraper views.
I believe that these visual elements, combined with exploration and combat, along with our world design, will appeal to players around the world.
Lastly, we felt that if we, Tango Gameworks, a game studio in Japan, made a game set in Japan, we might be able to make something very interesting and fun.
How big is the world, and how important is exploration?
Our version of Tokyo in Ghostwire takes the fun parts of Tokyo and adds them to the core parts of Shibuya to make them accessible. This creates a large area to allow for wide-linear type of gameplay that allows players to experience the main story and explore the city freely.
Will there be boss battles? What can you tell us about this and the interesting foes we’ll face?
There are various types of Visitors in Ghostwire: Tokyo, ranging from weak to strong, each with their own special abilities and roles. Japanese Yokai folklore, fables, urban legends and famous scary stories inspired the design of them – which may be hints of their abilities and roles!
What is the power of the PS5 allowing you to add to the experience?
You need to experience it directly because this is very difficult to explain, but the DualSense Haptics and adaptive triggers felt so good that it surprised us. We could feel and experience the various actions and attacks like never before.
There’s also the 3D audio. It makes you feel like you are in our version of Tokyo. To “feel” the objects and beings that are there. There are times players will hear not just the familiar sounds of the city but also the sounds of the supernatural. Keep an ear out and pay attention because you can use those sounds to help solve the mystery and explore the city.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is set to come out sometime next year for PS5 and PC.