Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs Review For PS4

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Posted September 27, 2016 by Josh Brant in Video Games

Developer: Arc System Works/Toybox Inc.

Publisher: NIS America

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita, PS3

You may not have heard of it, but Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs is an intriguing concept. Evoking a setup similar to the style of Ghostbusters, the entire premise of the game is basically of the classic movie minus a bunch of middle-aged men and in their stead, a group of high school kids taking up the calling against specters, spirits, and the unknown. This should be a match made in heaven; however, this is a title which has gone out of its way to be abrasively obtuse, hiding what really makes the mechanics work too far into the game to be discovered. The main word is “works” as opposed to “good,” however, as the rough edges which still score the base design have not been sanded away from the original.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

As a high school student just beginning his first day at a new school, you are confronted with situations and anomalies which eventually result in you joining an exorcist business. Clients contact you to deal with unwanted spirits. You investigate for any motives/patterns, find the ghost, and hit it over the head with literally a lead pipe.

Ghost Hunters Daybreak certainly holds its haunting enigma for the starting chapters. You will meet some genuinely interesting characters and have some genuinely interesting conversations—sometimes. Even so, the knowledge of doing the same thing each time erodes what mysterious intrigue the game initially has. Giving the ghosts a semi-scientific explanation doesn’t particularly help, nor does giving them a pattern of psyche. Interest comes from mystery and mystery comes from what is unknown. Science seeks to reason a physical explanation, and there can be no trepidation in reason. Something simply ceases to be interesting once the intrigue is gone.

When an interaction is required with the various NPCs, the player is presented with a circle of five emotional options to choose through unexplained icons. After choosing one, five more icons appear, representing an action. So, the protagonist went for a wet, french kiss when I thought I was responding with a compliment, a grope when I intended a handshake. As the game progressed, I found it best to choose the questioning look, and then either try to hear or smell. That didn’t always solve the issues, too, but my fumbling created instances of hilarity. It was like dating in high school all over again, only with the caveat of having no idea how to communicate.

Falling Flat

The gameplay in Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak is a bit unconventional. When first hearing about the game, it comes across the “dungeon” parts being similar to the older Persona games. But instead, you are set playing virtual chess across a board where you and your party members must search for then engage the enemy ghost by moving around in limited directions. Before each fight begins you will be able to gear up and set various items and traps around the location you will be venturing about. Engaging a ghost transforms the screen to a first person view in which you can see yourself attack and be attacked depending on if you landed a correct hit or not.

Your party consists of up to four members whose ultimate goal is to defeat the main boss of each episode. Usually these guys aren’t alone: Often times you will be fighting off lesser spirits along the way, but they still hit pretty hard. These smaller enemies don’t’ necessarily have to be defeated to progress the story. Once you defeat the main baddie the mission is complete and the chapter wraps up from there. No doubt, the battle system is a point of contention. Often times many of your moves depend on Random Number Generators and it was fairly easy to get cornered into an unlucky situation. Battles are also limited by a specific number of turns and if you can’t clear the boss before the time limit you are forced to start over.

In addition to this, the game really stumbles when it comes to explaining the basis of its mechanics. After the first tutorial section, the game throws you into the fray expecting you to figure out the rest. You will be able to do so after barely scraping by the first mission for the first time, but it still will be frustrating if you have not experienced anything like it before. I feel like Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak assumes a bit much of the player so you will have to take the proper initiative and really think about where you are going to move.

New Additions

When reviewing the list of features which have made their way to this updated release, one has to wonder why it wasn’t present in the first place. New gameplay concepts like having a recommended set of traps before entering battle to remove guess-work, and allowing the set up to be tweaked cuts down on annoying busy work which would act as a major barrier for entry. Then there is a much more fleshed out story, with new characters and other surprises which, upon learning were not present, brings cause of concern over how coherent the original tale managed to be. Also, the new animations add gravitas to the story surprises.

What Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak does do well is take the routine parts of games we pay little mind to (menus, options, mission grades) and assimilate them with in-game items and surroundings. The HUB is the Gate Keeper’s office, with each desk or part of the room representing a different option. If you want to change settings you go to the front-seat of the car and adjust the front console. If you don’t want to continue to the next mission you turn off the lights and call it a day. Menus have always been the thing in games which are difficult to avoid—forever reminding us we’re playing a video game. Small as it may seem, it’s appreciated when one tries to camouflage its menus within the game world to make the illusion more coherent.

Final Verdict

Overall, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak has some key failings which prevent it from standing shoulder-to-shoulder with its more polished contemporaries. It is an enhanced version of a game which is, objectively speaking, a sub-par experiment at niche game design. Luckily, the colorful cast of characters and TV show-like structure allow for the game to be taken in quick little bites—which is perfect for those who don’t have the time to power through a long, drawn out narrative. Too bad the gameplay, while unique, is largely unsuccessful in delivering a worthwhile experience.


About the Author

Josh Brant

I love God, my family, friends, sports, and the greatest hobby of all: video games! You can reach me on twitter @minusthebrant.