After a paranormal disaster plunges Tokyo into a world of real-life urban legends and conspiracies, players take up arms to fight otherworldly visitors who have taken over the city… literally! In Ghostwire: Tokyo, players combine common equipment with a special technique called Aether Weave, combining spiritual energy with the elements of wind, water, and fire to fend off enemies and save the city.
Instead of a special weapon or conduit, Ethereal Weaving uses just two hands to hypnotically intertwine the game’s movements to unleash its power on Tokyo’s hostile ghosts.
“The evil spirits that appear in Tokyo are supernatural, non-physical beings, so we tried to come up with the most intuitive way to deal with them,” explains Kenji Kimura, Game Director for Ghostwire: Tokyo at Tango Gameworks.
“Japan has a long history of preventing bad events such as natural disasters or disease through prayer at shrines and temples. If a child was injured in the neighborhood, their parents would wave their hands over the wound, saying spell-like words, as if magically relieving the pain. It was this historical reliance on nature and other unseen forces controlled by hand movements that inspired their use in the game.”
The ‘tradition meets modernity’ motif is common to Ghostwire, turning the vision of modern Tokyo colliding with the spirit world into a unique hybrid that stands on its own, down to its fighting skills.
“Of course, we knew about the “kuji-kiri” or “nine symbolic strikes”, as well as the gestures used in ninjutsu and other practices,” Kimura explains, “but we were not really aiming for explicit witchcraft or ninja vibrations. We wanted to focus on how a person living in modern Japan with traces of unique traditional elements would grow and adapt. So we went for more original gestures based on the ones in the past.”
What really drove Tango to design and animate Ethereal Weaving was its “feel”, i.e. the movement of the hands makes sense for the environment and abilities being used.
“We tried to imagine what kind of movement, for example, would best curb the wind (and look as cool as possible) before coming up with a specific gesture,” says Kimura. “Animating these gestures was a major concern, so we acted them out by asking each other, like, “Does this look cool?” or “is this too funny?” The process was very exciting.”
Of course, players can also get their hands on the beautiful ghostly vision of Tango in Ghostwire: Tokyo, now available exclusively for PlayStation 5. Ghostwire: Tokyo doubles down on bringing players closer to the action, and features a DualSense wireless controller to make it not just show the players the action, but let them feel it.
“After we settled on gestures, we started working on visual and sound effects, as well as on haptic feedback and adaptive trigger reactions. [on the DualSense controller]”, says Kimura. “All the elements were connected, and, in my opinion, it is this interconnection that creates a truly immersive experience.”
Ghostwire: Tokyo is out now for PS5. Download and play today, or upgrade to Ghostwire: Tokyo Deluxe Edition for exclusive content and more.