The original Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters gets so much right so I’m not surprised that it was pulled up for a re-release on the Playstation 4 as Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs. This new version adds extra scenarios, changes the combat system and adds an extra character; a few plot details are changed too, although not much happens.
Release Date: 21st October 2016 (EU), 20th September 2016 (NA)
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Genre: Strategy RPG, Visual Novel
Rating: PEGI 12
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Arc System Works / Toybox Inc.
Despite all these changes, the core of Tokyo Twilight is left largely unamended. You play an ordinary high school student who just so happens to have the luck of exorcising a ghost right in front of the CEO of ‘Gate Keepers’ a company that publishes magazines on the occult and also deals in banishing ghosts. The game is broken up into chapters that are structured episodically, right down to having their own opening and closeing credits. The game wastes no time settling into a pattern; someone discovers they are haunted, the Gate Keepers find out somehow after, a bit of research later and we find out where and what the ghost is and then it is left to the player to plan out how best to trap and exorcise it with the budget on hand.
But while a clear pattern of investigation, planning and attack does emerge, Tokyo Twilight never lets things rest and become boring, changing the status quo with the characters nearly every chapter. The plot also does a great job of explaining what ghosts are in this game and how they work without it bogging us down in too much exposition instead content to give us little pieces of new ideas that build upon the last with every chapter.
The animation for the character sprites was apparently so revolutionary it was even given a name: GHOST or Graphics Horizontal Object Streaming. Despite the grandiose name what this really turns out to be is an even more awkward version of the animation you see in games by Idea Factory. Characters move smoothly but they do not hold any kind of strong expression for any given time. This undermines the emotion from any line throughout the entire story.
The other major problem is the sensory & emotional input wheels that the story mode uses for more than half your character’s interactions in any given story segment. This involves choosing a symbol from each of the two wheels, each of which has five symbols and… you can see already that this is way more complicated than necessary. When the game asks you to input your reactions or decisions though these wheels you have a choice of twenty-five different responses. On one hand, this could be fun as there is a response no matter what you pick, but as you don’t get any explanation of how the wheels work in the game and you can only save in between story events you are likely to mess up a lot of these. It would be fine if these were just fun extras and did not affect anything besides the scenes they appear but characters’ affection levels, and thus your ending, are affected by this. Not only that but correct use of the sensory & emotional input wheels is the only way to unlock extra scenes that help to further explain the story. So the only way to reliably see a good chunk of the game without wasting waiting a great deal of time is to look for a guide that will tell you exactly what answers to give.
It is a shame that the story portions of the game let itself down so much this way because the other half of Tokyo Twilight is a surprisingly entertaining strategy RPG. Having to find and exorcise ghosts with a combination of early planning followed by your characters cornering the enemy to finish it off, all on a strict budget, becomes compelling very quickly. Running through the early chapter to chapter, day to day stories it feels like you are in a Ghostbusters spin-off only with a much larger cast.
This new version of Tokyo Twilight added some sensible amendments to its previous iteration’s combat system. Attacking no longer ends a characters turn, both letting a character attack more than once and making it more advantageous to invest in additional action points. Attacking ghosts from the sides or behind does a lot more damage than in the previous game too, rewarding good formations a lot more. Ghosts can still counter any attack you make but now you can also gain a skill so that some of your characters can do the same. Overall it is a system that feels so much fairer than the previous version of Tokyo Twilight; even if the winning strategy is still the same. The difference is that Daybreak Special Gigs makes getting there feel so much more rewarding than other games of its type that once you finally game the system to your advantage it feels like an earned victory to steamroll the remaining maps as you are the one who has managed to work out a battle system that while fair with a good learning curve does not hold your hand at all.
While Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak Special Gigs does a lot right it really does have too many negatives to warrant a total recommendation. It is a game that would be used to fill in a dry spell between other similar urban fantasy games, and it is certainly a unique experience once you actually teach yourself how to play it.
This title was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 review copy provided by NIS America.