Ghostwire Tokyo Would Make A Killer VR Game

Tokyo Would Make A Killer VR Game

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I’m currently working through some of my 2022 backlog in preparation for the inevitable Game of the Year decision I’ll have to make next month. I’ve installed Ghostwire: Tokyo since it launched in March, and I’m not sure why I haven’t had time to play it before now. It’s spooky, it’s searing, and it’s supernatural – aka the Ben Sledge trifecta of terror.

I’ll be honest, I don’t play a lot of scary games – Alien: Isolation is about all I can handle, and that’s only because I love Ridley Scott’s 1979 thriller so much. But Ghostwire offered just the right amount of creepiness in its trailers, and the magic hand-waving abilities appealed to me more than any pistol or sniper rifle. Now that I played the game for the first time, it’s just as fun as I had hoped. The appropriately spooky vibe is intriguing, spell casting is enjoyable, and hand exorcisms are a great idea. It was the last two parts that made me realize that Ghostwire would be perfect for VR.


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Virtual reality has its downsides – including a prohibitive upfront cost that prevents the majority of would-be gamers from taking the first steps in their VR journey – but there are plenty of upsides too. I’ve never felt more immersed in worlds and universes than when I have my helmet on (why else would I controversially choose Vader Immortal as my favorite Star Wars game?), and some of the mechanics are completely unique thanks to the ability to navigate your way with precision through the levels.

Ghostwire Tokyo would make a killer VR game (2)

I’ll never forget the first time I wielded a lightsaber and the Force in VR (I’ve played other games, honestly) or floated through space so realistically that I really got motion sickness (it was in Lone Echo – I told you so). And I saw this motion sickness as a good thing! The game was so precise and immersive that I really felt like I was in space! Virtual reality can be truly wonderful, ask anyone who’s played Half-Life: Alyx, and it’s a shame more people can’t enjoy it.

It’s also a shame that it’s so difficult to develop. Although a few games have done it, porting a title to VR is a Herculean effort, the opposite of tweaking things to work on consoles and PC, although I have no doubt that’s also a lot harder than it looks. Ghostwire, however, would still be better than most games if it got the VR treatment.

It’s first-person, which already makes the transition easier than other games, but the unique way you use your hands could be turned into a truly unique mechanic in VR. Instead of switching between your elemental attacks, different hand movements could fire different beams. Move Spider-Man to use the water attack, a pseudo shotgun. Put your fingers in the traditional gun symbol, much like the protagonist Akito does, to use the wind attack. You get the picture.

Ghostwire Tokyo would make a killer VR game (1)

Ghostwire’s hand moves are inspired by Kuji-kiri and fight director Shinichiro Hara described it as “karate meets magic”. It looks and feels great in-game, but imagine actually doing those moves in VR and Akito responding in real time?

This would be most impressive in the exorcism sections, when you use your joystick to move your hands, pushing it left and right to follow Akito’s actions. It works fine as is, but again, it feels like a mechanic made for VR. Moving both hands back and forth, spinning in front of your eyes as mystical lights pour from your palms – it all sounds a bit Shang-Chi, but it’s even better.

I only played VR on my Oculus Quest, as it was called when I bought it. But friends have used the Valve Index, with all its perfect finger tracking, and raved about its praise. Maybe this game wouldn’t work on a (relatively) cheap headset without that all-important finger tracking, but I still want to try it.


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