Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is a visual novel coupled with a take on strategy role playing, from Toybox Inc. It tells its tale across thirteen self-contained episodes, each lasting around 30 minutes to an hour, which makes it nice for a quick pick up as you know you won’t be committed for too long.
Each chapter follows a basic premise, whereby someone has a problem with a ghost and your crack team head to the location to put the ghoul to rest. The story is not complex, however each episode held my interest, and is well written. A modicum of interactivity is provided via the rare choice, and the expression wheel that occasionally appears. This allows you to express yourself by choosing an action, shown as a heart or a fist for example, and then one of five body parts. This had no real impact on the story however; no matter what choices I made my character appeared to be a massive pervert or douchebag. The wheel did not make it clear what action I was likely to be taking, thus following numerous failed attempts to do the right thing, such as comfort or handshake someone, which ended up trying to fondle them instead so I gave up and went for the kiss option every time for my own personal amusement.
After all the talking, the hunt to bust the ghost begins. The battle is primarily presented via a top down view of the location, and icons representing your team and ghosts (when you can see them). Each of your squad has a number of action points that are used to move, change facing, and perform actions, and once the orders have been given both your team and the ghosts enact their moves at the same time. This leads to combat being quite random as it is hard to predict where the enemies are going to move to; even though it gives you a predicted conal effect they don’t always move as far as you expect and you often find yourself attacking empty space. A turn limit also applied to each encounter, so missing with attacks is frustrating and I found myself running out of time on a few occasions. If one of the ghost hunters or a foe is successful with an attack, the camera switches to a first person view of the team member involved, and damage is dealt accordingly. It may be that the randomness of the combat is to add to the suspense however it was just annoying and it often felt like I was unnecessarily wasting time.
Upon vanquishing the ghost there’s some more talking, the client’s problems are conveniently resolved, and the credits for that episode roll. The monster of the week format works well here, and the TV style presentation did make me smile.
Between missions you can upgrade your team’s items and buy traps to make combat easier, but the interactivity of the game is lacking and there is little replay value once completed.
The presentation is good and lots of detail has gone into the character portraits during the visual novel sections, a personal favourite was the shopkeeper whose hair and apron were, inexplicably, blowing in the wind. The music is rocky and catchy, and I found myself humming along on a few occasions.
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters fills me with mixed emotions. I enjoyed the simple story, however the combat is too random to be enjoyable. Those looking for an easy to follow story will get something out of it, just don’t expect to do so twice.