Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters has finally being brought across the ocean and hit English speaking lands, developed by Toybox Inc. Twilight sets itself up as an episode based, tactical strategy RPG ghost hunting game. Following the formulae of other games like Phantasy Star Universe where each chapter is an episode, Twilight sees you going all across Tokyo to exorcise ghosts that haunt several locations around the map. Who you gonna call?
Twilight follows a Visual Novel style for its story telling, showing you the story with animated pictures of the characters and a text box on the bottom of the screen. Following your character as a new transfer student to Kurenai High School, you will find out that not only are ghosts real but they pose a real threat in the city you just moved to. Meeting with the members of a ghost hunting squad shortly after attending your first day you are thrust into the hunting business alongside fellow classmates and clients alike.
Going through the story you will meet new characters, who return in the later episodes as new companions or recurring NPCs. The episodes have a beginning set of conversations and cutscenes, detailing the ghost and the client as well as their connection, leading up to a before-climax where you return to your office to prepare. You then have a battle in the environment the cutscene showed you with the main ghost and any entourages it may have. After this battle another set of conversations and cutscenes play to tie up the loose ends of the episode and end that chapter for you. Rinse and repeat for almost all 13 episodes the game has.
Sitting between 8-10 hours for the story, due to necessary levelling for battles and constant retries to learn ghost patterns, this game can feel rather short due to the overuse of talking, though this is to be expected by a Visual Novel. Doing all the side stuff will definitely rack up a good 20-50 hour playthrough, but it isn’t all that necessary to do, grinding for a few levels to beat the episode boss is all you really need to do, at least until episode 6 where the difficulty ramps up and you need those extra levels to even survive a round of combat.
One half of the game is its visual novel part, listening to characters drone on and on about their life, troubles and paving the way for the story to progress. Besides listening to them you are sometimes given an option, from 1-3 choices that seem to have little effect on the game whatsoever, the same goes for the 4 emotion 4 sense system it has going on. You can select between Love, Friend, Angry or sad for an emotion then between Touch, Smell, Taste or Hearing… angrily tasting some sulphur… yeah.
The conversations between characters can go on for literally 20 minutes of the episode which can become quite tiresome, but that is the genre so it is hard to hate it for this aspect. The emotional senses really feels out of place as there is no context for the response you will give, emotional touch is the only one that seems to have differences, and the other senses are merely just there regardless of emotion. Though some of the reactions from licking things can be hilarious, I like to portray my character having an obsession with tasting everything he can and people looking at him with concerned eyes.
The other part of the game, the better part, is the fighting, which begins with a planning phase where you can place traps and items on the map before entering. This can become the most crucial part of the battle system as you can stop ghosts from moving to certain areas or damage them when they enter an area. When you finally start the battle you go into a turn-based tactical game where you move your characters on a grid, trying to find the ghosts in the zone. Once you find them it is time to attack… after you figure out what the hell they are doing with their movement patterns.
While the battle system is interesting with the different weapons, skills and planning phase, it feels very poorly put together. You are only given the range at which ghosts can move and no indication as to where they are most likely to move, sometimes ghosts can have what seems to be random pathing making it sometimes impossible to fight them. You need to guess so much in this game, and it becomes more trial and error then a game of intellect. I found myself playing each mission at least once to learn the ghost patterns then retrying to actually fight them, sometimes ending in 3-6 tries to actually beat the ghost.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
The music and themes in the game don’t fit, at all really, the soundtrack is a mix and jumble of separate genres that sound good but don’t go with the atmosphere at all. Only cutscenes have appealing music and they are replaced way too often. The ending track for episodes feels incredibly out of place as well and I felt as if they could have done a much better job piecing the music together with the scenes.
Overall I give Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters a 2/5, the gameplay is one of the only redeeming features and even that has tons of faults with it. The item and equipment progression is slow and it can take up to 6 episodes to get a new weapon for your character that fits your playstyle. The visual novel side has little to no interaction besides laughably bad response that end in comedy for comedy’s sake. The planning phase is done rather well and actually stimulated my brain to figure out the best layout to beat the ghosts, only to be dashed with the sometimes randomly acting ghosts.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.