Tokyo 42 is described as a hyper-stylish isometric open-world shooter that comes with unique visuals, bullet physics, and crowd simulation. It also goes on to call itself a critically acclaimed action masterpiece, but how much of the latter is true? That’s a fairly heavy term to tie to the experience and whilst I do agree that much of what’s on offer is fresh, I certainly cannot agree with the self-proclaimed description.
The game starts out wonderfully and sees you located in your Tokyo apartment. Moments later a news broadcast announces the first murder of 2042, followed shortly by the confirmation that you are apparently the culprit. Evading capture for a crime you didn’t commit, you’re now tasked with working your way up the criminal chain to find the real culprit and put an end to the mess you’ve been pulled into.
It’s not hard from the get-go to appreciate the vibrant and diverse visuals that pop with every shift of the camera. There’s some excellent presentation for players’ to enjoy, everything from the base environment to each structure that it houses has been carefully crafted to offer up some gorgeous fields of play. Thankfully this bonds well with the design of Tokyo 42. You’re able to take full advantage of the multi-tiered buildings and surroundings, something that proves very useful when the game takes it up a notch. You’ll be bobbing and weaving between structures and stairways as you seek out your next target, or do all that you can to evade an onslaught.
The objectives that you’re tasked with can range from simplistic to overly tough, lasting anywhere from a minute to twenty minutes in length. As an assassin, it’s only expected that you have a plethora of weapons to utilise, as well as your trusty blade. The amount of freedom you typically have during a mission tends to be spot on, but there are times when you feel as though the game is pushing you onto a certain path, forcing you to use a specific playstyle. This is made all the more apparent by the fact that you don’t always have sight of where your bullets are heading, which either means you’re going to need to use some guesswork or move to a new (closer) vantage point.
Much like HITMAN, Tokyo 42 allows you to suit up in different attire and use disguises to aid you on your mission to kill a target. It’s key for any game that comes with a tactical edge to offer up a wide range of tools for the player to enjoy and make the most of, something this game manages to supply remarkably well. It’s a shame however that the AI don’t behave, or more specifically, respond how you would expect. Their awareness of their surrounding is quite literally baffling. Many a time did I misfire or misjudge a shot, for the bullet to hit a wall right next to where an enemy was positioned. Now I don’t know about you, but if I was to ever see a bullet hit a wall right next to me, I’d be gone before you could blink. In Tokyo 42, the AI barely react. If however you take out an isolated enemy that’s hidden from sight, out of view from his buddies, the AI will descend on you like a fly on you-know-what. It’s irritating, especially in the later stages of play.
My biggest problem with Tokyo 42 is the difficulty curve. This is a unique looking game that gives off an excellent first impression during the initial stages of play, but just over half way through the game, the novelty wears off. This is mainly due to the sudden climb in difficulty, and it’s here where a game that’s enticing and heaps of fun, becomes frustrating and rage-inducing. Enemies just seem to get a huge bump to their reaction time as well as their precision, and when you group that to the different enemy variants, it does get somewhat overly tough. Don’t get me wrong, I like a challenge, but here it just felt like I was being punished for having so much fun in the first half of the game.
As lightly touched upon above, you can play this game (for the most part) however you like. If you want to enjoy the benefits of being incognito and stealthily making your way through the experience, you can. If you want to go all-out Chuck Norris, and run-and-gun your way through the game, you can. Hell, you can even find a balance between those playstyles and achieve both. Regardless as to what you aim for, the controls are very simple to get to grips with. Aside from movement, you’ll be making best friends with the right analogue and the right trigger, which are used to aim and shoot, respectively.
The AI will do everything in their power to bring you to your knees, often swarming you with bullets, grenades, and more. They have the ability to teleport, which makes the game massively tense and unpredictable. One thing that is constant and guaranteed about Tokyo 42 is that you will always be outnumbered. It doesn’t matter how you play, you’ll need to ensure that you put on a tactical front and judge your movements carefully but quickly. I found it a much easier game to manage when I was standing my ground until the very last moment. Using cover as much as I could, or zipping around my immediate surroundings whilst fighting back foes was undeniably rewarding when I eventually emerged victorious.
The game houses a nice band of collectables for you to seek out. This includes new attire for you and your cat, yes, your cat. This friendly feline can be deployed to locate opposing assassins, and while this feature does come in handy from time to time, it’s hardly a game changer. That said, there’s heaps of content to dive into here. You have main objectives, side objectives, the collectables, general exploration of the gorgeous miniature open-world, and then you have multiplayer. The multiplayer is very Assassin’s Creed-esque, in which you and an opposing player will be thrown onto a map, tasked with blending into the crowds whilst trying to seek out the enemy. It’s a great deal of fun and certainly something I can see myself revisiting over and over.
Make no mistake about it, Tokyo 42 is stylish, ambitious, and unique. There’s a great deal of content to throw yourselves into, with varying environments and scenarios to keep the game feeling fresh. The gameplay offers enough freedom to enjoy the experience however you like, even if it does slightly lean in favour of those that prefer running and gunning. Unfortunately the game does become overly tough when you’ve made it roughly over half way through, and it’s here that Tokyo 42 begins to become less exciting and more tedious. It doesn’t help that the AI can be wonky, but with these issues to the side, there’s little else to groan about. It’s a gorgeously crafted game that look good, plays great, and stands out.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.