Go to this marker, kill all enemies that appear, reveal more of the map, go to one of the new markers that just appeared, talk to an NPC, go to the next waypoint, fight against more enemies, go back to quest giver, get your reward. Rinse and repeat. mental breakdown Ghostwire: Tokyo to its basic gameplay fundamentals and you’ve got an open-world game that’s as formulaic as it gets.
But activities take on new meaning when, instead of clearing towers, you’re exposing more of the map by clearing damaged torii gates. Their locations aren’t random either – they’re often found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine, and on rare occasions they become literal gateways to another dimension. Just outside the shrines you’ll also find stalls selling amulets or snacks, although given the supernatural fog that’s swept over the city, some of these looked in better shape.
Likewise, these rudimentary catch quests gain meaning as they lead you to discover the many yokai of Japanese mythology that have woven themselves into Japanese society. In Ghostwire: Tokyo, they take on a variety of roles, from threats to collectibles, vendors, and quest givers. Then there’s how it all looks: a gorgeous recreation of a new-gen Tokyo that would make Yakuza’s RGG Studio sweat. All of these things make Ghostwire’s world come alive – ironic for a game where everyone has been spirited away.
It’s also a sort of cultural quirk that could only come from a Japanese developer like Tango Gameworks, a studio that revels wildly in its Japanese identity and all of its nuances – a welcome departure from trying to play for a Western audience that Mikami hungers for more Shinji survival horror.
The richness of Ghostwire’s setting only shows the superficial portrayal of the likes of Ghost of Tsushima and Sifu; Games set in Asia but made in the west, mostly by white people. Regardless of their intentions, we get (at best) superficial cultural tourism and games that play on “pre-existing stereotypes and clichés” (uppercut at worst).
Consider Sucker Punch’s samurai game, which has the audacity to name one of its modes after legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa… because it happens to be in black and white and has Japanese audio (which has since been botched in the original release). Lip sync was done for the English dub). Having at least authentic language options as an option is an improvement over Sloclap’s martial arts game Sifu, which only added Chinese audio after launch. Subs and dubs might ultimately come down to personal preference, but it’s still telling that Ghostwire uses the Japanese audio as its standard, which it’s also largely stuck to for its marketing.
Suker Punch and Sloclap seem to be considering a replacement movie theater first, rather than the actual culture itself. Sifu is less a game set in China and more a fusion buffet spanning various aspects of Asian cinema, with the first level paying homage to both The Raid and Oldboy. But even comparisons to a Hong Kong martial arts flick are at odds with the game’s serious revenge plot and hardcore mechanics – there’s neither the slapstick of Jackie Chan nor anything quite as imaginatively wacky as what you’ll find in this one Genre gets (and if Sloclap did caring to represent Hong Kong cinema, perhaps it should have given priority to a Cantonese dub over a Mandarin one…).
Why are these depictions so terribly grumpy and dour in the first place? Sucker Punch conveniently ignores that Kurosawa’s films had plenty of humor alongside the later color ones. Indeed, you’ll find that balance of heavy and light tones more clearly in Ghostwire, where you can be helping quell a tragic ghost’s cursed rage one moment and helping another ghost’s unfinished “stuff” in the loo the next.
More importantly, Ghostwire sees more of its intention and use of cultural elements – rooted in Japanese society and beliefs and logical (if you think about it). Ghost of Tsushima’s collectibles often feel like a mix of Japanese culture: hone your skills at Shinto shrines! Increase your maximum health at a hot spring! Compose a haiku a few centuries before it was even invented!
Sure, Ghostwire has a heck of a lot of collectibles that might seem incidental – Daruma dolls and Hanafuda cards and whatnot – but they also come with detailed descriptions explaining their cultural significance. Their placements even serve a purpose, such as a Japanese sword you find in an abandoned construction site – it seems pretty random until you learn that this was also the site of an old samurai mansion.
These collectibles and descriptions extend even to the seemingly mundane; Descriptions can explain the popularity of a particular supercar model, why some magazines include stylish handbags as bonus items, or tell you stories about your favorite Japanese snacks while you devour them and recover. Perhaps one of the game’s most tongue-in-cheek observations is the widespread use of plastic bags in Japan, even when transporting just a single item.
The same thoughtfulness that Tango Gameworks puts into its item tets can be seen in the mechanics. Using your hands to make gestures (kuji-kiri) to seal corrupt spirits ranks alongside hand gestures used in Shugendō and Shingon Mikkyō today, and there is even logic behind having a bow as the only conventional weapon , since archery has a connection to a Shinto ritual in Momote-Shiki.
My favorite aspect comes from the way you use a katashiro to save all of the ghosts floating around Shibuya. In Japanese tradition, these paper dolls act as human substitutes for self-cleansing, so you can see the logic of using this to absorb spirits from people who have lost their physical form. But that’s only the first step, as you’ll then take this Katashiro to a specially wired phone booth capable of transmitting the ghosts of the fog-shrouded capital.
I have no doubt that Sucker Punch and Sloclap love the cultures they aim to represent and got their research right, but there’s a limit to how faithfully you can represent something when your team includes people with that lived experience and legacy missing – let alone taking that knowledge and giving it a unique twist like Tango Gameworks has here.
I hope Ghostwire gets the audience it deserves, but I fear it will end up being marginalized as a niche, much like Yakuza – another franchise that has always embraced its authentic representation of Japanese culture – this the most has done throughout his life. While there are valid criticisms that the open-world design sides with routine, I don’t recall the same consensus for the average Ghost of Tsushima open-world template (which was carried over from Assassin’s Creed 2).
Instead, Sucker Punch not only garnered awards, it even wowed Japanese audiences, including yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi, who described it as “the kind of work done by non-Japanese people that makes you feel like they’re even more Japanese than we are.” “ described. (I think he meant “people who have bigger budgets and resources than us”, but hey, I’m not a translator).
If you’re fascinated by Japanese culture and want to see it faithfully portrayed and beautifully executed by a Japanese team, then you owe it to yourself to play Ghostwire: Tokyo. Ghost of Tsushima may have scratched the surface of the nation’s rich heritage, but there’s nothing quite like a team that knows it inside out when it comes to authenticity and spirit.
https://www.vg247.com/ghostwire-tokyo-representation-ghost-of-tsushima-sifu Ghostwire: Tokyo’s authentic representation makes a laughing stock of Ghost of Tsushima and Sifu’s cultural tourism