Tokyo’ And What Makes It So Spooky

With Ghostwire: Tokyo almost here, I spoke with Kenji Kimura the game’s director about what makes the game so very spooky.

While Ghostwire: Tokyo has moved away from more traditional survival horror fare, I wanted to know what were the game’s other main inspirations instead, something Kimura was happy to get into in more detail.

“The main inspiration was the city of Tokyo itself. When we started making the game, we thought about what cool things about Tokyo we could implement into the game. So we took walks around the city to find or “rediscover” what we felt was interesting about Tokyo. What was interesting was the way that the city respects history and culture as a base and then we built new and cool things on top of that base. It creates areas and neighborhoods, patches of land that are so vastly different yet so close to each other.

“You can walk down a street of office buildings, turn a corner and be in a completely different area like in a shrine or a drinking alley, it almost feels like you’ve been warped to another place, or time slipped into a different era . But it feels so natural because it’s a daily scene here in Tokyo, we see it all the time, even on the way to work but when you think about it, it also feels a bit paranormal. And we wanted to take that as an idea and expand on it, to make a game where you can visit and go sightseeing in a paranormal Tokyo.

“That meant the biggest challenge we had was caused by our own decision to prioritize making the visuals, the city itself first, and then applying the story and gameplay to it. Normal game development would have gameplay and environments created at the same time so that the gameplay would automatically fit with the world you create, but in this case the world was already created and that caused a lot of challenges when creating the gameplay and story.

“Also it was the first project for me to work on in Tango, and the studio culture here where everyone has a say, was a fun challenge, gathering up different ideas and choosing which ones to hone in on.”

It was here we got to the spooky vibe of the game and why Kimura was so proud of that.

“I’m really proud of the spookiness. The visuals and the experience in Ghostwire are not designed for this to be a horror game, it is an action-adventure experience, but they can be a little scary, a bit unordinary because our vision was to make a game that allows you to experience the “unordinary lurking within the ordinary .”

“We iterated on the game to find the right balance to make sure that things were “not horror.” Also such things, if done wrong, would become “unintentionally a comedy,” so there was a lot of trial and error we had to do to find the right balance, to find the right amount of spooky.

“So we hope gamers can play the game to relax, relieve some stress, and have fun visiting the paranormal Tokyo we created.”

Ghostwire: Tokyo is released on March 25 for PlayStation 5 and PC.

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