Ghostwire: Tokyo (Review)

Ghostwire: Tokyo is a first-person perspective action-adventure game that was released on 25 March 2022 for PC and PlayStation 5.

The story of Ghostwire follows a spirit of a man named KK who possesses the body of another man, Akito, after he is involved in a traffic collision. Akito has control over his body other than his right hand, which KK controls. A man named Hannya, who wears a Hannya mask, uses a spell to summon demons all across Shibuya. It is Akito’s task to hunt down Hannya and stop him. KK grants Akito special powers that can be described as karate meets magic to help him defeat the evil spirits that now infest the city and to save the many imprisoned spirits. As the player collects spirits, they are converted into points that can be used to upgrade skills to improve Akito’s moves and abilities.

Ghostwire is a game that I was looking forward to since its initial reveal; it looked like it had an interesting story and a different way of combat that would be compelling. I picked up my copy when it was on “Deal of the Week” on the PlayStation store and got straight into it.

Let’s start with the positives. The story starts off slow as it introduces the central premise of the game and its key players. It has a pretty decent tutorial regarding the main character’s skills. This tutorial isn’t as out of place and clunky as some games out there. It’s slow and not overbearing, but it tells you enough so that you can start playing with relative ease.

When first thrown into the city of Shibuya, I couldn’t help but notice just how pretty it is. It looks amazing. The colours, the lighting, and even the weather mechanics are beautiful and only serve to immerse you in the character’s environment further. The map is pretty big and traversing it, due to many fast travel points, isn’t a chore, and there is a lot to see and do, although this can be a bit overwhelming at timesꟷbut more on this a bit later.

The characters and enemies are well done. The main characters, Akito and KK, have depth, which is nice to see. Too many protagonists these days are little more than 2D caricatures. The enemies are just terrifying. The main enemy you face is slender man-like things that creep up on you with their no face and umbrellas. These come in a few different versions, but the way they move and sound is just creepy as hell. There are plenty of other enemies which are all based on Japanese folklore, for example, the Kuchisake, which is based on kuchisake-onna , AKA “Slit-Mouthed Woman”. This enemy is a tall female who wields a massive pair of scissors. In folklore, the kuchisake-onna asks its victims if they think she’s beautiful, only to reveal her disfigured grin. She then asks the question again, often maiming the victim with similar scars if they lie about her beauty or killing them outright if they lie. These added details only serve to immerse you further into the games world and add that extra bit of realism to it.

One thing I have to mention that was talked about quite a bit before release is the fact that you can pet cats and dogs throughout the city. These may seem like a superficial addition, but it does actually serve a purpose for those wanting to see all that Shibuya has to offer. The cats, when petted and talked to (yes, you can talk to the animals), will point out various things in the city that the player can collect. The dogs (much like the foxes in Ghost of Tsushima) that you can purchase dog food for will, when fed and followed, dig up coins or otherwise lead you to collectables. These are nice little additions that serve to assist you if you’re going for 100% completion.

Talking about collectables, there are a lot of them to collect throughout the map. They range from bundles of spirits as mentioned above that level your character up, shrines that increase your abilities, Tori gates, that unlock areas of the map by clearing the dangerous fog that shrouds most of the map at the beginning of the game, and various items that can be picked up and traded at some cat vendors for outfit items, music tracks and other things. You also have many spirits to either help, follow or trap. As well as the human spirits that you can do various types of quests for, there are other more traditional Japanese spirits that you follow or capture, such as the Tanuki which are racoon spirits that disguise themselves as various objects around the city. They can be discovered only by the fact that their tail is always showing; even so, they can be pretty hard to spot and require some real investigation. And something that deserves an honourable mention is the use of cucumbers to attract kappas, a kind of human-turtle hybrid spirit.

So, what about the negatives. First of all, is a big one for me; the combat. The combat is unique in its style as you use a combination of three special abilities to damage enemies. The fact that there are only these three abilities that have both a normal and charged attack but don’t have any sort of combo usage isn’t the main issue for me; it’s the issue of aiming. The enemies can move around sporadically, and the targeting system for aiming, for want of a better word, is piss-poor. It’s hard to focus on one enemy at times as the spot where you can hit things is relatively small. So sometimes, unless the enemy is in your face, all you do is miss, and when you’ve only got a limited number of times, you can use each ability; this can be very frustrating at times. I found myself just firing wildly and hoping I hit stuff. Having said this, I have to admit that I found the bow very useful, but this can also be a pain if you’re aiming at moving targets.

Another issue I found, and those going for 100% will probably find it too, is that there are many things to collect all over the city, and I feel like it’s just too much. You could spend hours purely collecting items and other collectables, and it just all gets a little repetitive. This is also an issue with some of the side quests; they can be very repetitive and confusing. It’s generally a case of finding a building or spot on the map, clearing it out of enemies, and then returning to the quest giver. This is nothing new and is an issue in many open-world gamesꟷI’m looking at you, Assassin’s Creed. As I said earlier, the map is sometimes overwhelming and may be seen as a little too big for some players.

All in all, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a fun, albeit at times frustrating, game. There is enough going on to keep you busy for hours if you have the time and patience to see and do everything the game offers. The details of the Japanese folklore are an excellent addition, and even if you know nothing about such things, it can still make sense to you. I never found myself asking why I was chasing a ghost otter over rooftops; I just did it. If this game is on your radar or even seems interesting, I would suggest that you give it a go. The game is far from perfect but is a good game nonetheless, so I’m going to give it a 7/10. I could have given it an 8/10, but the combat just lets it down a little too much.

Beneath the Earth: Undertale (Review)

Undertale is a 2D top-down role-playing game that was released for Windows and OS X in September 2015, for Linux in July 2016, PS4 and PSVita in August 2017, Nintendo Switch in September 2018 and finally for Xbox One in March 2021.

In the game, you take control of the character of a young girl who has fallen down a hole and landed in a place called the Underground. This area is beneath the earth’s surface and is separated from the human realm by a magical barrier. The main character aims to get to this barrier and escape this underground realm and return to the human one. On your travels, you meet various monsters, some nice and some not so nice, that will want to fight you. You have the option to either fight back or perform other actions to eventually be able to either spare the monster or flee from it.

The combat system involves navigating a heart (your soul) through mini bullet-hell attacks (think space invaders). How you approach these monsters impacts the story as a whole and determines whether you’re doing a pacifist run (sparing all that you fight) or a genocide run (killing everything in your path).

So, Undertale, yeah, well.

I’d seen a fair bit about this game for a few years but had never gotten around to playing it. It’s only now that it has been put up on PS Now that I finally played it. And now I have, I’m not sure what to think.

First off, let’s talk about the graphics. Despite it being in old-school pixels, it looks pretty decent. Yes, some of the elements look like I’ve drawn them in Windows Paint, but I think that adds the charm. As much as some things look like this, there is plenty more that looks extremely well designed. The characters in both manner and appearance are unique and not something that you’d see anywhere else. At first, I thought it looked a bit sh!t, but as I played it, I grew to admire the design more and more.

Now, the story. Honestly, I don’t think I have any words to describe it, other than confusing. When you’re first thrown into the Underground, after being attacked by a sentient flower (yes, I did just say that), you meet a character named Toriel. Toriel seems nice enough to start with. She helps you through the first few puzzles and seems to genuinely care about you. But then you realise that she is trying to keep you there with her, and she doesn’t want you to escape. You quickly find out that many of the monsters below wish to stop you from reaching the magical barrier. As you go through the game, battling or sparing your foes, you meet talking skeletons, a weird scientist that looks across between a dinosaur and Lisa Simpson, a crazed knight and a killer robot. All of this adds to the confusion as you’re never quite sure who’s on your side and who to believe. Having gotten to the end of the game, I still don’t think I’m any the wiser of what the hell was going on…but I enjoyed the ride.

Confusing as the game is, the story drags you into it, and you find that you have a need to find out what’s going to happen next, and so you keep playing.

Undertale isn’t a long game – it took me around 3 hours to finish it – but you could easily spend longer as you talk to all of the characters and explore every inch of the Underground.

So having said all this, what are my thoughts on the game as a whole?

Well, it’s pretty good. I was a bit dubious about it, to begin with, and wasn’t sure I was A. going to play it, and B. enjoy it. But I’ve done both.

As always, for those of you that enjoy a trophy hunt, Undertale has pretty obtainable trophies, and if you’re on the PS4, you can get the platinum without even finishing the game! For the last trophy (reaching the second save point in the core) I will just say this…hang around and the path will open.

All in all, I think this game is really good. Of course, some elements could be improved – sometimes the combat is a bit confusing, some of the sprites could look a little better (namely, the main character that you control. But the story is great, and the music and sound are top-notch – even if the music is the kind that bores its way into your soul and will remain with you forever.

I’m going to give Undertale an 7/10, and I would recommend it, especially if you have a PSNow subscription. It’s well worth taking a bit of time to play through.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Review)

Mass Effect Andromeda is a space action role-playing game that was released in March 2017 for Windows, PS4 and Xbox One. It’s the fourth entry in the acclaimed Mass Effect series and is the first to focus on a new protagonist in a new galaxy. You take on the role of Ryder and have the choice of playing as either the male or female of the two siblings. Both are inexperienced recruits of an organisation named “The Initiative”, whose goal is to populate new worlds in this new galaxy.

The game is set between the events of Mass Effect 2 and 3 as the four council races – human, turian, salarian and Asari – plus the quarians send 20,000 citizens in what are termed “Arks” on a one-way journey to the Andromeda galaxy to explore and populate new worlds.

Through events that take place at the start of the game, your Ryder becomes a Pathfinder. A Pathfinder is a leader of sorts that leads a squad of military-trained explorers through the galaxy. They are trained in combat, survival and diplomacy. You have to lead your team through new worlds, against new enemies and establishing new colonies on alien planets.

Mass Effect is one of my favourite game series. It’s an epic series that gives you complete control over how you play. The first three games in the series told the story of Shephard, who you follow through to a massive conclusion. This new addition to the series had a lot to live up to, and it had a hard act to follow.

Of course, with this being a favourite series of mine when a new game was announced, I couldn’t wait to get into it. It seemed like a long road, filled with very little information and delays, but as soon as I could preorder it, I did.

When it arrived, I dove straight in. I wanted to know what the story could be after the massive events of the third game. But as much as I wanted to play it, I just couldn’t get into it.

I don’t know what it was, whether it was because it was a new character or whether I just didn’t like the start of the story, but I spent a few hours playing and then just sort of gave up. Theirs is a lot going on in this game. It has a much larger open world than any of the previous games. There were new elements like the strike teams – teams that you send on missions for rewards that can also be played using multiplayer. There were new puzzles that I to solve – sudoku like puzzles that allow you to unlock technology on planets that make them more habitable (when aliens came across sudoku, I’ll never know.) It was all just overwhelming, and I didn’t feel any connection to any of the characters. First off, the main protagonist isn’t particularly likeable, and of course, you’ve not got any of the same characters you spent years getting close to in the previous games.

Recently though after playing through the original trilogy’s legendary remaster, I’ve restarted it and have actually now got the hang of it and am really enjoying it. There is a lot to it, and it is still overwhelming in parts, but I’ve just been methodically going through the list of quests and tasks and doing them in order rather than going all over the place to explore, and I’m finding this much better.

I still don’t feel like I have much of a connection to Ryder, but the other characters like Drax, Vetra and Peebee, I’m starting to like and enjoy having them around.

Once I got into it, the story is really enjoyable, and I am finding myself getting more engrossed in it, but like the rest of the game, there is a lot going on.

The graphics are amazing, and the difference between the worlds that you visit is amazing and variable. Each one has its quirks, whether being too cold, too hot (or just right) and having all sorts of different flora and fauna. There is a lot to explore on each planet and all kinds of hazards that you have to fight your way through or around.

Without a war going on in the background – as there is in the original trilogy – this game feels altogether lighter, and there is more humour peppered throughout, which does an excellent job of lightening the mood at times.

Mass Effect Andromeda is a good game, even if it does take some getting into. I would recommend to anyone that is a fan of the original trilogy to give it a go, but I would say to change your expectations. Although it’s a similar game, it’s still very different. I’m going to give it 7/10. I’m yet to finish the game and still have a long way to go, but what I have played is promising, and I feel like I will actually get to the end of it this time. Please give it a go yourself and let me know what you think.