When I first looked at the original release of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, I honestly wasn’t particularly eager on it. On the outside, the way the trailers sold it felt like some stereotypical Japanese visual novel. With a title as generic as Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, you can see why I wasn’t keen on devoting too much time to it. However as much I dreaded it, I was surprised to find a pretty fantastic title despite my low expectations. In the case of judging a book by its cover, I was wrong to underestimate the game. It certainly had its faults, but by no means was this as standard an experience as it first seemed.
Therefore, I just knew that I had to try this game out again once its enhanced rerelease was announced. Now, a little more open minded about it, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs manages to fix up some of these faults and add some extra goodies on the side. With additional side missions and improved combat mechanics, Daybreak Special Gigs is an excellent title and worthy of your time and money.
In Tokyo Twilight, you play as a transfer student starting off his first day at Kurenai Academy. In typical JRPG fashion, the game asks for you to provide some standard details about yourself, such as your name and birthday. The game then goes even further, asking your height, weight, eyesight, and the kind of clubs you’re interested in. After filling in your details, you are then introduced to the characters Sayuri Mifune and Masamune Shiga. After a brief introduction and being shown around campus, you then encounter a ghost and are forced to fight it. After putting the spirit to rest, you are invited to join the Gate Keepers, an occult publishing magazine that specializes in exorcising dangerous spirits.
Gameplay is divided into two primary segments, Adventure Mode and Battle Part. Adventure Mode is where the bulk of the story is told, with a visual novel-like story divided up into several chapters. In each one, the story typically revolves around the Gate Keepers being called in to investigate an area that is being haunted by some sort of spirit. From there, it's up to you and your organization to speak with some of the locals, look for clues and investigate key areas. At the end of the chapter, it usually concludes with a boss fight and a new recruit signing up to the organization.
In regards to the plot, I don't want to spoil too much. To those who are curious as to the kind of tone you can expect from Tokyo Twilight, try to picture the Ghostbusters if they decided to make that into an anime series. Then, imagine every chapter being told in a Scooby Doo episodic fashion, with a brand new mystery in which you and the gang must solve. Without skipping the dialogue, these chapters typically take around half an hour to complete.
As well as some visual enhancements to the main story, Daybreak Special Gigs provides players with some bonus missions for many of the side characters. Usually activated after the recruitment of a particular character, these chapters add an extra two hours of game time and generally serve to establish their personalities in a little more detail.
Throughout the story, you are encouraged to interact with characters through dialogue choices, as well as utilizing Tokyo Twilight's bizarre Emotional and Sensory Input System. With this mechanic, players can combine both emotional and sensory inputs to react to certain characters and items. Presented through two wheels, players can select their actions based on what they are feeling and how they wish to express it. For example, if I was to combine ‘Love’ and ‘Touch’ as a response, this may lead me to hug or inappropriately touch certain characters. Whereas if I decided to pick ‘Friendship’ and ‘Touch’ instead, I may instead respond with either a handshake or friendly pat on the back.
While your dialogue choices and emotional responses may not change the story, they do impact your chances on befriending new characters. For instance, if you decide to respond with an aggressive attitude to a majority of situations, you're going to scare people off. Some may respond differently, but most potential recruits will decide not to join due to your hostile stance. While this is an interesting mechanic, I found that there was very little clarity as to what this feature is and how to operate it properly. Still, while newcomers are most likely going to be a little lost, it does lead to some interesting and inappropriate encounters once you get the hang of it.
Putting aside narrative and emotions, the main gameplay of Tokyo Twilight comes in its combat system. The best way to describe Tokyo Twilight's combat is a mixture of Fire Emblem's top-down movement, with elements of Shin Megami Tensei thrown in as well. Prior to every mission, you’re shown an overlay of the level, giving you a chance to plan your movements in advance and place traps in order to defeat the ghost. Once that's sorted, you must then select three additional recruits before heading off to the location.
Starting off the mission, you are given an overlay of the map to which you have to navigate through in order to find the ghost. As you move around the level, you have to strategically predict the enemy's movement and flank them where they're most likely to move. With every successful hit made, the camera pans into a first-person perspective to show our characters deal damage on the unsuspected target.
Much like any other JRPG, enemy ghosts will vary in both attacks and behavior. For instance, some ghosts may be strong against ranged attacks, while others may be vulnerable to it. Some will run away once they spot the characters, while others will act aggressively. There are a huge variety of foes to take on in combat which really helps make every ghost encounter feel different. Later bosses are tricky to defeat, with brute force thankfully not always being the most reliable tactic. If there was one complaint to be made, it's that the difficulty spike in later missions is probably going to deter all but the most experienced players from finishing the campaign properly.
Much like the story, Daybreak Special Gigs also provides some improvements to the game’s combat. For instance, players in the original release would only be allowed to perform one action at a time every turn. In this title, combat is sped up by allowing players to perform multiple actions at the same time. Another change to the combat is that the title now actually plans ahead with some of the traps, and automatically provides a basic setup for all the devices you may wish to use within the mission. My first impressions of this were generally positive, and even if you decide to not go with most of the traps, it does clue players into what type of traps they may/may not wish to use in later missions. That being said, once you get up to your eightieth exorcism it does get a little mundane having to once again strip away the exact same traps again and again.
Much like the original, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is an excellent enhancement to an already fantastic game. As well as addressing the tutorial complaints I had previously, Daybreak Special Gigs goes above and beyond by providing additional story content that is both interesting and fun to play. While it may not reach the heights of Fire Emblem or Shin Megami Tensei, fans of both visual novels or strategy games will find some genuine value in this hidden gem.
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita with copies provided by the publisher.
With the extended story and improved combat system, Daybreak Special Gigs is an excellent enhancement to an already fantastic game.
- Improved Tutorial Clarity
- Strategic Combat Mechanics
- Beautifully Animated Characters
- Unique Enemy Variety
- Bland Background Visuals
- Difficulty Spikes