Just over a year since it first released on PlayStation and PC, Tango Gameworks' Ghostwire: Tokyo finally arrives on Xbox Game Pass, bringing with it all manner of ghoulish goings-on down in Tokyo's Shibuya ward. This is a highly atmospheric and unique open world adventure that's jampacked full of Japanese folklore and tradition, a game we thoroughly enjoyed when we first played it back in 2022. However, there are some niggling performance issues and a few rough gameplay edges that hold this one back from its full potential as things stand right now.
Jumping into Ghostwire: Tokyo, players assume the role of Akito, a young Shibuya resident who's on his way to visit his critically ill sister in hospital when a mysterious fog envelops the city, instantly spiriting away all of the locals and leaving piles of crumpled clothes on the ground where they once stood. What's more, the streets are now full of ghoulish Visitors, malevolent entities who traverse the game's map, sucking up human spirits and making Akito's life a right old misery.
Luckily, Akito now finds himself possessed by a former cop/grumpy ghostbuster by the name of KK, a man who has much experience with the Visitors and their masked leader, Hannya, a demonic sort who wants nothing more than to combine the worlds of the living and the dead to his own nefarious ends. With KK in tow, Akito can wield various powers in order to take on the evil spirits that wander the eerily silent city streets as he looks to clear the evil fog enshrouding the region, rescue his sister and take down Hannya.
In terms of its narrative setup, Ghostwire: Tokyo gets off to a strong start with an immediately engaging set of circumstances that continue to compel you forward as the roughly 12-hour campaign plays out. Tango Gameworks has done its supernatural homework here too, providing us with a world that's absolutely dripping in folklore to dig into via collectible items, text and voice logs and side missions that are often a highlight of the entire experience. Indeed, taking the time to read all of the bits and pieces you find scattered around the world map, you'll actually find yourself learning plenty about Japanese traditions and beliefs pertaining to the occult, and all of this adds much to the atmosphere of the game's world.
As you press forward on your central mission to take down Hannya, you'll stumble upon the restless spirits of those who've been whisked away by the fog and engage in short quests that give you a little window into the humdrum lives, personal circumstances and daily grind of the residents of Shibuya. There are still plenty of busywork side activities here, make no mistake, but a fair number of the side stories do a wonderful job of drawing you closer to the lost souls you're seeking to rescue and add lots of background and context to the area you spend your time exploring.
And what an area it is. We've seen many recreations of Shibuya in this medium, but we reckon this is the best one yet, an absolutely gorgeous rendition of the beating heart of Tokyo that nails the look and feel of its real-life counterpart - it's a proper joy to wander around. Corner stores - which are now staffed by comedic spirit cats - look almost photorealistic, and the way that the neon lights reflect off the rain-soaked streets never fails to impress. This is a great-looking game, in short, it's packed full of atmosphere and lore and its various ghouls and ghosts are a fantastically weird selection of Japanese horror stalwarts, incorporating headless schoolkids, Dark Water-esque children dressed in yellow raincoats, spooky slendermen and all manner of floating apparitions.
So far, so good then. Ghostwire: Tokyo nails its aesthetic vibe and its narrative is a generally satisfying one. However, there are issues related to gameplay here that hold the whole thing back somewhat. Akito is armed with various weave powers, which come in wind, water and fire flavours, a bow, a few stealthy takedown techniques and talismans that can be employed to temporarily debuff foes. It's a fairly generous array of skills all things told, but there's an overall clunkiness, a slightly sluggish and imprecise feel to firing off attacks, that can render confrontations more annoying than they should be. We reckon the feel of all of this is 100% by design by the way, it's just got its own unique take on how action flows, and there are lots of options to tool about with in the menus in order to fine-tune your turning and aiming and so on, but you can't escape the fact it doesn't play as well as it could do if aiming and movement felt a bit more slick and precise.