When you think about ghosts, what’s the first thing in that comes to mind? Some think about poltergeists, while others think about haunted dolls. There have been paranormal activities reported throughout human history. The people at Toybox Inc. looked at quite a bit of this history to make their love story to the supernatural. Too bad it fell flat.
Title: Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Toybox Inc
Platform: Ps Vita(Reviewed),PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 20, 2016
MSRP: $39.99 (Review Copy Received)
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.
At first glance, this game looks visually appealing. This honeymoon period fades quickly as cut corners and poorly executed tricks prevent the game from really stretching its muscles.
I can see the potential in the art, as the characters and backgrounds are well drawn. The enemies are often silly or based off Japanese mythology. My personal favorite enemy is the red baby in a blanket that flips off the enemy to attack. It’s because I can see what it could have been that I’m disappointed in the way the game cut corners.
Graphics and videos are significantly overused. You can only see the main character open his laptop the same way so many times before you start to see just how lazy the animation style is. I understand that this is a habit in many visual novels. However, I find this habit is unacceptable in a fully priced game.
Not only are many key graphics overused, the animation itself is completely unacceptable. In many of the static model’s animations, you can see the model stretch and shrink to create the illusion of movement. While this can be done well, it comes off here like a bad game on Newgrounds.
When you can accidentally bite one of your friends in a conversation without any real explanation of the mechanics you can tell you’re in for a bad time.
Sadly this happened to me in the first five minutes of the game. While talking to the people around me, a wheel popped up without any explanation. I picked what looked like a fist, which then caused another wheel pop up with even more completely unexplained options. I decided to pick a tongue sticking out. This combination of emotion and sense caused me to bite the person I was talking to. Suffice it to say, I restarted the game almost immediately.
These two wheels are the emotion wheel and the five senses wheel. These are used to help you communicate with your friends and investigate your surroundings. Sadly, this isn’t explained in the game at all. Most of the time, I felt the friend touch combo was the safest to use, giving tons of handshakes or a friendly hug.
This is because most recurring characters and allies have a friendship scale that helps determine some aspects of the game. If you use anger a lot when dealing with characters, you’ll eventually be seen as a miserable jerk. However, this is no in-game option to see how NPCs feel about your character.
While it’s not really mentioned in the game, there are two other ways to build your relationships with your co-workers. One of your options is to train with each one individually. This helps you modify your combat capabilities and learn their unique skills. The other option is to play board games with them. It’s a fairly interesting minigame that helps you develop your ability to predict where a ghost will be, and you can build up your friendship with multiple people. These effects, however, weren’t properly explained in-game.
And honestly, this was one of the biggest issues for me in this game. There were many hidden mechanics that really weren’t explained at all. They don’t explain the emotion and five senses wheels at all. There doesn’t seem to be any real way to observe how close you are to your friends. The worst culprit, however, is the fact that if you make specific choices in game you’ll find a secret ending in each chapter that explains why the chapter’s main ghost came back, or how they died. This all culminates into a secret ending to the game. There are no hints to what the right choices are, and if you miss just one, you’ve missed the real ending.
When I first started playing this game, I had no clue what this game would be like. I went in cold turkey, and after an hour of nothing but talking, I was ready for combat. What I got was a strange game of predicting movement.
In combat, you are actively hunting ghosts on a grid over a series of minutes (turns). Each turn has you trying to find the main target, predict its movement, then attack the general area it will be. This sounds fairly easy on paper, especially if you have 4 characters that can attack. The only problem is that you’re typically in the dark about where the ghost is until MUCH later in the game.
This leads to an interesting form of preparing for ghosts where you can place traps in the area. These traps can prevent movement, inflict negative status effects or lead them to an area where you can see them. If you can predict their movement and lay traps for them, you will easily be able to hunt a ghost within a single turn. Sadly, the proper utilization of these traps and techniques aren’t taught in the game. If I knew any of the tricks at the beginning of the game that I know now, I wouldn’t be nearly as frustrated with this game as I currently am.
The music in this game isn’t bad. While not nearly as extensive as other soundtracks I’ve listened to, the tracks in this game are fairly enjoyable. They would have to be because, at the beginning of each battle, you’re given a chance to pick a track to listen to during your fight.
I wish this extended to the vocal track. This game has a fully Japanese vocal track and, while I would argue that this makes the game ten times better, I just wished the quality was consistent throughout the game. Many of the voice actors have obvious talent, but often it felt like the weren’t close enough to the microphone. I wouldn’t find it as bothering if this issue wasn’t common, but it is and it just makes it sound unprofessional.
The one area this game really stood out for me was its research into the paranormal. This game went to great lengths to explain the various concepts surrounding ghosts and ghost encounters. It looked throughout history and the various pseudo-sciences used from multiple cultures to explain the existence of ghosts and the very phenomena accompanying it.
I would often find myself reading for more than 15 minutes about how an out-of-body experience would actually work and how to induce that concept. If even a fourth of what they discussed in this game had any “factual” or historic truth to it, I would have to argue that it’s fascinating. The only thing I wished they would have done differently would have been to spend a little less time on the science and more time developing the characters.
I disliked how little thought they put into the motivations of most of their characters.In this game there are 4 unmissable characters that You can get, however, there are also 6 missable characters. These missable characters have little character development and even fewer opportunities to develop a friendship with them in-game.
What makes this worse is the fact that the version that I played was an update to the original. This version adds several new chapters and improves on several failed mechanics, a ghost encyclopedia, preset traps, and expands on a few of the missable characters. Sadly none of these chapters really expand well on the character’s motivations until the final extra chapter. It just feels like they wasted a chance to fix their big problems.
That’s the problem with this game, wasted potential. The combat was pretty fun after I got used to it. It made me use my head and think about my moves or be punished for them. You can also tell that this game utilizes quite a bit of research. If this attention to detail was spread to most other aspects of the game, it could have been really fun. At this point, though, I can’t say that this game is anything more than underwhelming. The graphics end up looking lazy, the communication is confusing, and things are never fully explained. It just ends up being a disappointing mess that never really improves.
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs was reviewed on PlayStation Vita using a download code from Aksys Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 5.5
- Predicting enemy movements can be fun
- Music has a few good tracks
- There is a large amount of content
- Paranormal research explained well
- Key Graphics are seriously overused
- Significant features never explained
- Vocal track has several issues
- Characters have little development