Who You Gonna Call?: Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - July 29, 2017
Who You Gonna Call?: Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs Review

Sometimes a game comes along with a premise so interesting that you really want it to be good. Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is one of those games. When I heard the game’s premise was essentially Ghostbusters, but in Japan, I was intrigued. Fighting ghosts in a modern Japanese setting in an RPG? Sign me up, because that sounded awesome. Of course, expectations can often set you up for disappointment and I should have known better than to get my hopes up before coming into such a niche title.

The premise of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is one that you’ve likely heard before if you’ve played Japanese RPGs over the last decade or so. You play as a high school student who has just transferred to Tokyo. On your way to your first day of school, you meet a woman named Chizuru Fukurai. Chizuru owns a company called Gate Keepers Inc., which is known for publishing magazines about the occult. After a brief chat with Ms. Fukurai, you are off to school where you introduce yourself to your new classmates. You befriend a wheelchair-bound boy named Masamune Shiga before being shown around the school by your class president, Sayuri Mifune. While on your tour of the school, Mayuri brings you to an abandoned floor, where classes have not been held since one of the students committed suicide by jumping from the roof of the building. Suddenly a strange feeling overcomes the two of you and Sayuri runs off, leaving you alone. This is when Masamune and Chizuru show up and you learn about the real nature of Gate Keepers Inc. Masamune, who works for Gate Keepers, explains to you that the company performs exorcisms, a fact which is hidden from the public. Chizuru had come to the school to accept the job of finding the ghost that was believed to be the actual cause behind the recent student “suicide” and since you also possess the ability to see ghosts, Chizuru asks you to assist in this latest exorcism and ultimately become a part of the Gate Keepers teams.

The general premise of the title reminded me a lot of Persona 4, with the new student transferring into a new school and getting wrapped up in a murder mystery right away. While this premise quickly fell to the wayside as the story went more into Gate Keepers performing exorcisms outside of the school, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had experienced a similar story before and one that was ultimately handled much better in that previous experience.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters starts off with a lot of promise, as the visual novel elements of the game introduce you to the game’s story and characters. These sections are straightforward, as they’re just text with static images. Occasionally, you are given options to interact with characters or environments within the game, but the game does a poor job of really telling you what exactly these interactions do, though they can offer some humorous dialogue when you try to touch or taste another person. Aside from the interaction mechanic, I found the visual novel elements of the game to be well done, though putting together a solid visual novel isn’t exactly rocket science. The game still offers up some RPG elements, but sadly this is where the game really starts to fall apart.

When you are first introduced to the game’s combat engine, things really start to sour. Combat is handled in the style of a tactical RPG, but unlike a game like Disgaea, there are no sprites. Combat is handled on a grid and in lieu of sprites, the characters are represented by arrows. That’s right, just different colored arrows on a grid that literally looks like a sheet of grid paper. While this alone may sound like a deal breaker, it isn’t even the worst of it. Battles have you looking around maps for target ghosts and once you find them you are able to engage in combat. The issue with this is that all movement happens are once, so say that you move in front of the ghost and choose to attack. The ghost will move after your movement phase, but before combat, so if the ghost moves, your attack is wasted. Meaning that the combat engine is completely random, as you must attempt to anticipate where the ghost will move and attack in hopes of hitting it. Further adding to the frustration of this system is the chance that you can damage or break something in the room should your attack miss, which deducts from the reward you earn when complete the mission. Finally, the biggest annoyance is the fact that you are timed on each mission. This means you have a set number of turns to complete you objective and, should you fail, you must start the battle over again. Combining this with the completely random nature of the combat engine really makes the game feel more like an exercise in frustration than anything.  Which was a real let down for a game that I was hoping that I would enjoy.

This is where the game recovers a bit from its poor battle system, as I feel in love with the game’s visuals from the moment I began my initial playthrough, well for the most part. While the game has some beautiful artwork that is used for the cutscenes, it once again falls apart when you get into the game’s combat. Once again, the combat system grinds everything to a halt, as combat is confined to such a small part of the Vita’s screen.

With half of the game’s visuals are stellar, it made me wonder just how the audio portion of the game would hold up. This made me realize that I hadn’t even been paying attention to the game’s music. Not that it’s bad by any means, it just wasn’t anything all that special or all that memorable.

I wanted to like Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs, I really did. I love the game’s style and I think the game’s visuals during the visual novel sections are fantastic. However, the game all falls apart when it comes time to use its combat system. When you couple the random nature of the game’s combat system with the bland visuals that accompany it, the game loses all of the momentum and goodwill it may have built up in its opening moments.

The premise of the game being a group of Ghostbusters, but set in Tokyo has me hooked in the game’s opening hours. If the game had simply been a visual novel without the combat engine, I would have scored it much higher, but I simply can’t get over how much the combat system took me out of the experience. Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is an unfortunate situation where the combat engine ruins what should have been an interesting game.

This post was written by
He is a senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A seasoned gamer, Zach has been playing video games since the early 90s and have owned everything from the NES to the Xbox One. Aside from video games, Zach is a nerd of all trades and dabbles in everything from collectible card games to Gunpla.
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