Ghostwire Tokyo might not be your typical action or horror game, but it has an interesting premise that flows into its combat. We here at MP1st managed to snag a quick chat with Tango Gameworks regarding Ghostwire Tokyo’s combat, side missions and more. Read on to hear what Game Director Kenji Kimura, and Producer Masato Kimura had to say about the game’s development.
Note: Interview was conducted a week before launch but do to spoilers we wanted to push it out a bit so players had the chance to play through the game.
MP1st: First off I’d like to congratulate the team. I know it’s been quite a journey to get Ghostwire Tokyo out and you know we’re just a week away from launch and I’m sure everyone over there is both nervous and excited. How’s the team holding up?
Kenji Kimura: Yeah, we’re finally able to take a big deep breath, a sigh of relief that the game is able to get released and we’re in this kind of a happy afterglow that we just finished something big.
MP1st: I’ve had the opportunity to play through Ghostwire this pre-release and with it already beaten, I wanted to get some perspective from you guys, more specifically around the theme being centered around life and death. Why was this an important subject for you and the developers over at Tango Gameworks?
Kenji Kimura: One thing that is a common theme throughout the game is that there are things that we cannot see that might exist and they might be nearer and those things can be and also might be very important and there’s a set of spookiness that surrounds all of that. I think, sometimes things like yokai, which may be cute, but you know they may be the shadows or you know sitting around us in the city that we just cannot see but you know that might exist.
But at the same time there’s also the spooky side of that, a more darker side of that where you know there might be ghosts or spirits of people who are deceased that, you know, we just cannot see, that might be trying to tell us something important, or are there for a important reason that we just cannot see or understand quite yet. So with that train of thought, you know, it felt that it would be weird to avoid the topic of life and death, and so we decided to just face it directly, because it is something that all of us face as humans; you know death is something that’s gonna be some eventually at some point in our lives. It’s gonna strike us, or you know be part of our lives in some way. Instead of dancing around that topic we decided to just choose that and put that into the mainstream.
MP1st: Speaking about the spookiness of the game. Ghostwire: Tokyo isn’t exactly a scary game per se. That may mostly be because of the action-oriented combat being the focal point, but I did want to comment about the whole not being able to see things. There were multiple instances, say when I entered a garage, and all the lights just turned off and it’s pitch dark. I couldn’t see what was there, but I knew something was, because of all the effects and sounds that could be heard. I think this was great in terms of story process, and projecting that feeling into the minds of the players, so I know exactly what you mean by “spookiness” and think you guys did a fantastic job at displaying that.
Kenji Kimura: Thank you for noticing, that was a very important part in what we were trying to convey.
Masato Kimura: That’s exactly what the director was kind of aiming to achieve, and so it’s like as if you play through the game maybe after you finish the game, then at in times in real life, like sometimes when you’re walking around you might outside of the game kind of think – hey there might be something in the shadows over there that’s actually really important, or there might be something that I just cannot see that’s around me — especially if you come to Japan. If you ever have a chance to visit Tokyo, and you walk around and you might see the same scenery that we put into the game, and then you might think, “oh, there might be a yokai here” you know? And if that happens that would be awesome…that would be something that would make us very happy
MP1st: With the side missions, they’re very in-theme with the main narrative, but I also noticed a lot of them revolving around unfinished business. There was one early on where you face off against a hoarder inside this tiny complex. As you approached them, the reality around started warping, further manifesting that hoarder mentality, and blending it with both reality and the supernatural. Tell us how the team approached that, having a story based on reality, but also using the supernatural side of things to enhance that experience.
Kenji Kimura: The side missions are individual stories that might exist in real life. They’re kind of individual and unique and just created as things for players to enjoy as a break from the main mission storylines, but by playing them they do offer some hints or different views about what’s going on in the main story. They aren’t super necessary to understand the main story. Sometimes they draw parallels of what’s going on in the main story to offer, you know maybe there’s a different interpretation of what’s going on that I’d have noticed, but they would all be subtle.
The hoarder’s house, the trash house that you are talking about, it’s a phenomenon that we see in Tokyo. Just walking around sometimes there are houses like that, that are just filled with trash and it’s kind of weird and it’s unsettling, but it is part of that notion of our vision of unordinary that’s lurking within the ordinary. So inside the ordinary city or a block of streets of houses, to be this very unordinary looking house. When you walk closer to, yes the enemies come out of like a black hole where light is lost and time is lost and that kind of draw parallels to the mind of the flirter, you know the person who’s gathering up this trash, most likely has a different kind of sense of you know what light is or you know what time is. And we kind of just played on that mentality of like, okay well what would you know that side mission be about.
Normally a trash house is a place that in real life you probably would not want to go near. You know you just see it on the far side of your eyes and just ignore it because you don’t want to go near it or smell it or you know just walk by it. But since it is a game you have this fictional ability to actually go inside of it and there is a curiosity that kind of tickles in where it’s like okay I wonder what’s inside of that. We’re able to kind of play with those kinds of questions that normally pop up and try to answer them in our own way as an offering to you know as a side mission offering that could also shed some more light on some of the craziness that goes on in this world.
Masato Kimura: One thing that’s common between the side missions and enemy lines and through a lot of the decision making and during the game development process was always this notion of you know, would this be something that might exist you know this, is it something in the kind of believable realm of it might exist and if it falls out of like, you know if it feels too fictional then you probably decide not to put that into the game. But if it might exist or it might happen then we were able to kind of go into that psychologically and try to think about, okay well if that might happen then what would really happen in that case or if there’s a crazy person like this what might be going on in the mind of that person. If there’s a spirit of that person that still exists in this world then what is actually keeping that spirit from moving on? We would kind of play with those kinds of questions and not really answer everything completely but play with those ideas because they would also inspire a gameplay like this.
MP1st: Let’s talk about the game’s conclusion. Looking at both KK and Akito’s story and comparing and contrasting it to the antagonist. It’s kind of like a mirror. On one side is Akito, his story about coming to the terms of accepting death, opening up. On the other side, the antagonist, who is driven to madness by death, he’s haunted by it and can’t let go of it, no matter the cost, even if it’s against the will of those he loves. Two paths that begin the same, but lead to different doors. Is that the tale you were aiming to tell?
Kenji Kimura: Yes, that is absolutely correct. Very happy that you’re able to understand and take that understanding from the game.
You know going over this with the team, questions about like is this over communicating you know the ending or is this not communicating the ending enough and it was a constant balance of trying out different things but it makes us happy to hear that you were able to receive the information that was put into the final game and and to come to this conclusion which is exactly what we had in mind.
Masato Kimura: Interesting as a piece of artwork, you know this game has kind of like a door that’s easy to enter. You know it looks and feels like a popular children’s manga type of theme kind of game, but as you open the door and you enter in, you get deeper and deeper and you know play through the game and get to farther and farther chapters into the game it starts to have a deeper meaning. It can be played without really understanding everything but also if you do understanding everything and you try to take the effort to make your own interpretation of what you’re seeing then it’s a lot deeper than it how it looks on the cover
MP1st: I’m just gonna go ahead and ask it. With how it ended and just kind of everything in the game itself, it didn’t leave lot of room for a sequel. Do you guys maybe perhaps see yourself in the future coming back to Ghostwire, maybe perhaps with a different setting or continuing on with the story of KK possessing someone else or something? What are your guy’s thoughts on doing a sequel?
Kenji Kimura: On the business side of things that kind of ending would normally not be considered that great because you know, it ends things. But we felt gamers would want a real conclusive ending with some closure and we sided with the gamers with this decision. The thing is we wanted to create a full and complete experience and we wanted to make sure that gamers are satisfied so we definitely went that direction.
So we don’t really currently have plans right now for a sequel, we’re still in that afterglow just being happy to be able to finish and so we haven’t had time to actually sit down and think about you know what would we do if there was a sequel or how would we expand on this as a franchise. But after we take a break, and maybe take some holiday, take a vacation and then regroup and we’ll be able to see and if the opportunity arises to start considering making a sequel, I’m sure we would have ideas at that time.
You know as developers we’re always eager to make new things and improve on things that exist too so yeah, we’re just happy that we were able to finish making this game.
We want to thank Tango Gameworks and Bethesda for taking time out of their schedule to talk to us. Special Thanks to Tadayuki Horie, a producer at Bethesda for being the translator during our interview.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is now available on PC and PS5, and you can read our review of Ghostwire Tokyo right here.