Bustin’ makes me feel meh.
People who have read many of my reviews know I’m willing to give anything a shot at least once. I’ve played and reviewed practically every genre there is. When asked to review Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, I first asked “what kind of game is it?” I was told it was a visual novel game. Alright, I’ve done a few of those before. Sure, why not. Then after playing said game for about 20 minutes I see this game is far from a visual novel. In fact, this game is a straight up strategy RPG. Alright, let’s see how this goes.
Disguised as a visual novel (which it is not) Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is a simple in design and complex in execution SRPG that focuses on a group of students and young adults as they work for an occult magazine that is a front for an exorcism business. So we have part Supernatural, part Ghostbusters and even part Kolchak: The Night Stalker. That last reference some youngsters may not get.
Platforms: Vita, PS3
Price I’d pay: $20
Emotionally smell something?
The “visual novel” parts play out much more like cutscenes that occur in between the battle segments. There are a few times where I would make a choice, but they honestly didn’t have a bearing on the story at all. On top of that, most interactions with the visual novel parts use a rather confusing icon system for responses rather than traditional dialog options. I could chose a fist, an eye with a tear, a pair of hands shaking, or a heart, then I could choose what sense to use – nose, mouth, ears, touch, eyes. I couldn’t really make heads or tails of it all so I ended up shaking everyone’s hand most of the time.
The other 60% of the game is all about grid-based, turn-based RPG battles against the ghosts. These battles take place on a blueprint of the area, where ghosts and party members are represented by icons and dots. It is very minimal to say the least, but it gets the job done. Battles have to do with the player moving their party members around each turn and tracking, spotting and attacking enemy ghosts. Weapons all have a different attack pattern and radius on the map, and movement is all done via turns for both the party members and the ghosts. Battles revolve around figuring out the ghosts’ patterns and predicting where they will be when attacking.
Planning before a battle is essential for success. Putting ghost spotting traps in certain areas will show the location of ghosts not around the party members, and just like the Winchester brothers, placing salt in a line will keep ghosts from crossing over to another section of the map. All these special traps cost money to set and juggling money, how traps you have set, and where to set them can be a complex task. Along with managing items, armor, and weapons the party takes into combat, this is a very serious RPG. I found the planning process to actually be more fun than fighting the ghosts. Since the player makes all the moves and attacks then starts the turn, the party may very well move and attack in a place where the ghost has already moved. This is where the game takes a frustrating turn.
Anime Ghostbusters. No, really.
Since this is essentially a job, doing the mission efficiently and without mistakes will offer more payment from the client. Missing a ghost or breaking a plasma TV and a window will be taken out of the payment, and players can easily end up owing the client money for the damages sustained during the battle. Get it? Kinda like the Ghostbusters damaging stuff all the time and getting stiffed with the bill? It’s a novel idea, but in execution I always ended up hitting stuff because for the life of me, I couldn’t hit a damn ghost the first time trying a battle. This is where I started to cheese the game.
You see, if I started a mission, I could easily follow a ghost and see its patterns, where it was going to go and where it would end up. So instead of trying to track down the spirit, I would quit the mission, restart it with the knowledge I had, and cut it off before it could get away from my party. Yes, that’s cheating, and yes, that says something for the combat in this game. It becomes a chore to do about halfway through the story. In all fairness though, I will fully admit that the first half of the game was rather enjoyable. I think it was the novelty that it was more than just a visual novel. It wears off around the 6 hour mark.
On the last episode of…
The presentation is the best thing about the game. While the main characters aren’t explored as much as I thought they would be, each chapter instead focuses more on being an episode of a television show, so far as to have an opening and show the credits after the end of each chapter. This results in much of the story feeling like a “monster of the week” kind of format, which is fine, but for people hoping for a deeper visual novel feel, it’s not going to be here. Still, this format always impresses me, even if it has been done before.
While not inherently bad, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters doesn’t really stand out from the pack. It has very shallow visual novel aspects and an arbitrary response system that makes almost no sense. The combat is where most of the play time will be spent, and while simple in look and feel, it can get very complicated when it comes to planning and managing your party members. I will safely say I was never bored during my time with the game, but at the same time I was never very excited to see what was coming next, due to overly tedious ghost fights and a ho-hum story of ragtag ghost hunters. Yes, I do realize there’s still an audience out there for this game, but please keep in mind, this is not a visual novel as many would suggest. This is a strategy RPG that will require some time to fully get into, and even then, it may not grab you.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.