Updated: Sep 21
A unique setting and creative combat make this open-world horror hybrid worth the plunge.
Ghostwire Tokyo was released a year ago with a fairly positive response, but the game wasn’t without issues. I found it a unique, intriguing romp through a wonderfully realized Tokyo filled with fascinating yokai and fun side quests. While all those elements remain, Tango Gameworks has seen fit to update the original game with the Spider’s Thread. This sees the introduction of a new rogue-like mode and numerous other improvements to combat, traversal, and the overall experience. With this free update, Ghostwire remains just as exciting and unique within first-person open-world games, but now with fewer caveats.
So, what exactly does the Spider’s Thread update add? Firstly, it sees the addition of the titular mode, Spider’s Thread. The rogue-lite mode sees players tackling randomized rooms and objectives floor by floor. In between, there is the opportunity to upgrade and unlock skills and gear to help players progress. The mode isn’t anything particularly unique, but it is well-made, and it lets you explore the combat and mechanics of Ghostwire without any of the open-world elements. There are many handcrafted challenges, new encounters to engage in, and limited story elements, making it an excellent addition to an already dense game. Still, it is ultimately not what makes this update worth it. I found the campaign's quality-of-life improvements and new abilities more impactful.
With this free update, Ghostwire remains just as exciting and unique within first-person open-world games, but now with fewer caveats.
Even the most straightforward additions, like being able to dodge and parry counter enemies, take the unique Ghostwire combat and make it genuinely great. The actual shooting still feels slow and stiff, but a generous lock-on helps alleviate it, and with the new abilities, combat flows more naturally and feels much less like a shooter and more like a hybrid magic/melee game. With combat cleaned up, the rest of the game can shine, and none of Ghostwire has lost its luster. The visuals are still dense and detailed, with every street filled with things to collect and interact with, making for a faithful recreation of downtown Tokyo.
Performance issues still hamper the game, as it seems to strain against the constraints of consoles at every turn. The city is full of reflective surfaces and wet rain-slick streets, perfect for raytracing, but it is a mixed bag. There are numerous performance modes, but few are worthwhile. With the frenetic pace of the combat, it is hard to recommend anything that drops the framerate below 60 fps, but if you can swing with a variable refresh rate TV or play on PC, I highly recommend checking out all the bells and whistles.
The visuals are still dense and detailed, with every street filled with things to collect and interact with, making for a faithful recreation of downtown Tokyo.
Ghostwire Tokyo: Spider’s Thread continues Tango’s legacy of unique monster designs and horror elements, but it strictly adheres to Japanese folklore and creates a unique identity. Where past games felt like Resident Evil worship, Ghostwire carves its own path. Enemy designs are unique and varied, and genuinely unsettling without being ultra graphic or disturbing in a way many enemies seek to be today. The blood and guts of Dead Space, Resident Evil, and other contemporaries are nowhere to be seen in Ghostwire. The game focuses more on a spiritual and spooky atmosphere as opposed to outright terror and, as a result, feels more like a fun romp on Halloween night than a terror-filled sprint through a haunted house full of chainsaw-wielding degenerates.
While the world, visuals, combat, and tone are unique and arresting, the same can’t be said for the story. It does its best to justify the Yokai all over Tokyo. Still, other than that, it plods along, following MacGuffin after MacGuffin, stringing your protagonist along as a hapless nobody imbued with cool spirit powers thanks to being possessed. Nobody is particularly memorable, hampered by the stilted storytelling that plagued The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2 (to a lesser extent). Ghostwire sings when you explore and soak in the rich atmosphere; the side-content, in particular, has you dealing with unique Yokai, making you feel like some Tokyo ghostbuster. It is a compelling fantasy but can’t compensate for the lack of quality writing.
It feels more like a fun romp on Halloween night than a terror-filled sprint through a haunted house full of chainsaw-wielding degenerates.
Ghostwire Tokyo: Spider’s Thread may be a free update, but it is integral to taking a good game towards something truly great. The few additions to combat genuinely help the game flow, and new missions and a roguelite mode are just the icing on the cake. Tango Gameworks is dedicated to making Ghostwire a worthwhile game, and it won’t be long before it sits in a similar cult classic spot as The Evil Within 2. I hope that Ghostwire gets a sequel one day because it is one of many titles on the cusp of something extraordinary, but it just needs a little more room to grow.
Fun, unique combat
Great enemy design
Some interesting side content
Substantial, free content updates
Combat can still feel stiff
Storytelling leaves much to be desired
Repetitive mission design and structure
Reviewer played the game on Microsoft Windows and Xbox Series X
Ghostwire Tokyo: Spider’s Thread is available now on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. No key was provided by the publisher.