Tokyo 42 has gained a fair amount of interest since its reveal less than a week ago, with the announcement trailer receiving 135,000 views since march 30th, and the trailer reception has been pretty damn positive. We were lucky to get hands on with the title in its pre-alpha demo at EGX Rezzed 2016. Tokyo 42 is developed by Smac games and published by Mode 7, the developers most well-known for the Frozen Synapse series.
The thing that seems to have caught people’s interest is its frankly stunning art style. Tokyo 42 boasts beautifully colourful isometric environments with extremely minimal texture detail. The game is just a joy to look at. However, Tokyo 42 is more than just pretty window dressing. The core gameplay of Tokyo 42 was a blast.
The game’s website itself describes the game as a “Lovechild of Syndicate and GTA 1,” and I can’t really come up with a more apt comparison. Even in the short demo that I got to play, the GTA 1 influence was very apparent. The player is dropped in a densely populated map and is given tasks from various accomplices either in shadowy rendezvous or over the phone. The GTA influence became apparent when I had the ability to just say screw it and shoot a nearby pedestrian, resulting in a police chase across the map eventually ending in death. Couple this with thee bustling neo-future cityscapes and isometric stylings of Syndicate, and you have a rather unique mix of styles that gel surprisingly well together.
Although simple on the surface, it became apparent a few missions in that there are multiple approaches the player can take to complete missions. When given the objective to enter a temple in a heavily guarded area, I had the opportunity to jump my way to the nearest high rooftop and snipe, attempt to sneak past the guards, shimmy across neighboring buildings, and even attempt to jump on the various hover cars that were flying pass and hop over into the enemy territory.
It’s the little distinctions that set Tokyo 42 apart. About five minutes into gameplay I realized I could rotate the camera Fez style with a tap of Q or E, which reveals whole new areas of the map that I had been completely unaware of. Everything from a staircase that led to a previously unreachable rooftop to an entire full-fledged nudist garden sitting atop a slightly lower building, complete with running waterfall. A few more minutes in I learned I had the ability to immediately shapeshift into a different looking character with the tap of a button in order to shake the police tailing me after my small katana genocide in the nudist garden. All these little mechanics help liven up what could have been an incredibly basic open-world isometric shooter.
Having barely 20 minutes hands on with the pre-alpha build of the title, It’s hard to comment on whether the game’s simple gameplay loop and mechanics will expand over time; however, the short slice I got was a thoroughly charming and unique little mix of ideas that left me genuinely charmed and hopeful for the future of this game.
There is no information available as of yet regarding what systems Tokyo 42 will be available on or when it will release. But I recommend paying attention to this one over its development.