The occult and the supernatural has always been a fascination of mine, but it feels like not enough games really touch the subject in meaningful ways.
So, when I heard that Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters was a visual novel all about busting ghosts, my interest was piqued. However, after some time working with the “Gate Keepers”, I can safely say that busting most definitely does not make me feel good.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, PSV.
Played: 10~ hours
As the newest member of an organization known as “Gate Keepers”, the player finds himself learning the tricks and trades of a ghost hunter. The cast is a bunch of well established stereotypes such as the calm and collected navigator, a tsundere co-worker and a sexy boss. Luckily, the characters are realized with some beautiful artwork and they exhibit some fun characteristics here and there to separate themselves from the truly mundane, managing to carry the unfolding narrative fairly well.
As this is first and foremost a visual novel, there’s a lot of reading involved, where the only means of interactions are the scant dialogue choices which don’t really offer much in changing up the direction of the narrative most of the time. There’s also a wheel of what I would call “senses and action” where the player is tasked with choosing a feeling and action, combining the two to a particular action.
For example, I could choose to sadly lick the person I’m speaking to or curiously smell them if I so pleased for some mildly amusing dialogue here and there, but it doesn’t really offer anything significant and the novelty wore off rather quickly.
While the story was interesting enough that I was eager to see what would happen next, whenever I was actually tasked with the job of hunting a ghost, my enthusiasm was killed off quickly due to the nature of the combat.
When hunting a ghost, the game shifts to a preparation mode where the player can set up traps and tools that would help them hunt the ghosts.
Once the combat situation is properly engaged, the controllable players are represented as arrows on the field and they have a certain amount of AP they can expand before they have to stop for that turn.
The movement of the players is extremely limited, as even facing different directions takes up AP so getting into the right position and having enough AP to even get a single attack off can be more difficult than it seems at times.
The ghosts are much more flexible in their movements as, well, they’re ghosts, and they’re able to move through inanimate objects and seem content in running away more often than actually attacking the hunters.
Worse yet, there are many scenarios where the ghosts get their turn before the hunters, meaning that the combat becomes a game of cat and mouse where the player has to predict where the ghost will be and just hope for the best by attacking in that general area.
It felt like I was playing the worst version of battleship ever conceived, and even with liberal use of traps, I found myself uselessly swinging away at nothing turn after turn, often running out of time and failing the mission.
Even though I was eventually able to beat the story missions through brute force and luck, I felt the combat was at best tedious, and at worst borderline insufferable.
I would go as far as to say that if they removed all combat elements from this title, I would have enjoyed it much more as a standard visual novel.
Being that this the “Daybreak: Special Gigs!” edition, there is added story content and some refinements to the combat but given I never played the original, I can’t say how much the combat has improved outside of saying, NOT NEARLY ENOUGH.
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak is a title that showed a lot of promise, with a great art style and an interesting premise. However, the atrocious combat mechanics hinder the overall enjoyment of the game so much to the point it’s difficult to recommend to anyone in particular.
Fun Tidbit – I think this is the second game I’ve ever reviewed where I felt like if they just removed the gameplay, it would have made for a better game. Go figure.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.