Much of what we see in today’s gaming often depicts the future as being rather bleak, oppressive and joyless. But loading up Tokyo 42 gave me a burst of energy with its jazzy visuals, retro-inspired gameplay and neat concept that involves assassinations, pop culture and dark comedy in a neat package. Can this futuristic play on the Hitman formula be the gust of fresh air we need from the hardcore, overly serious titles we’ve been getting recently?
Tokyo 42 is an isometric action adventure game that seems to be a love child of Hitman and the old school Syndicate games with a dash of bright colors. You will dive into a story of betrayal and revenge as you embark on a journey to clear your name for murder. You do this by becoming a hitman and killing lots of people. There’s a sense of Irony here isn’t there? To be fair, Tokyo 42 is not to be taken seriously in any way, shape or form. It’s a perfect love letter evokes pop culture, dark humor and satirizes what society could easily become. Players will explore a vastly beautiful that’s litter will pop culture references galore, taking a heavy influence from Blade Runner where live flourishes above the clouds in a high rise heaven. People live longer as well thanks to a wonder drug, meaning plenty more scumbags and criminals are living longer if not taken care of by an unnatural demise.
The main objective in Tokyo 42 is to complete various assassinations, killing off some of the society’s elites and those who upset the balance including gang lords and the boss of a mini-golf empire. By pursuing these death sentences, the player’s recognition will increase and more contracts will become available. The themes and circumstances of each hit will be very tongue in cheek and vary between stealth, shootouts and at times become much more complex in execution. So your assignments will take you to snipping your target from long distance, infiltrating a heavily guarded apartment complex to kill a beef connoisseur with a samurai sword and starting a gang war where both gangs kill one another.
Did I mention there’s also a nudist gang as well? They’re pretty intense.
Tokyo 42 by its nature is inconstant as the range in quality for level design, pacing and execution can differ extremely. Some missions are great fun, stealth is simple yet highly enjoyable and the vast scale and detail of the world are simply brilliant. What does become a problem and overall impairs on the experience are some broken fundamentals.
As the world is presented in an isometric format, you have to rotate the camera manually to change the view. In most instances, the camera will pan in the most obscure place, with the view being completely covered by a large building or due to the certain areas in the world’s design, become vastly difficult to make out what’s happening. This is particularly annoying when you’re engaged in say a vehicle segment or large scale shootout that requires clear visuals in order to survive. This brings me onto another problem in Tokyo 42.
Aiming is also troublesome as it’ll take some time getting used too yet impairs players during more hectic moments thanks to the crude sense of feel and control. This is not helped by the fact fired projectile’s move at an incredibly slow speed. It’s an odd design choice as normally you can face a small group of enemies, firing aimlessly at you and soon enough you’ll just spend time dodging projectiles, firing off a shot here and there until you die. There’s also another odd design choice where the player can only take one hit before they die. This would be fine if the game remained focused on smaller groups of enemies, making more complex firefights or have more constructed stealth segments. This doesn’t help as well for manic boss battles which would be great fun if not for this annoying feature.
Of course, there are a fair amount of checkpoints in the campaign missions but side quests become tedious and a little overbearing in what they demand. You can crouch to gain cover but accuracy and grenades from enemies are often on the mark. After a few gun firefights, they become tedious. The stealth elements are much stronger for gameplay and I wished the developers would’ve focused more on intelligent and highly thoughtful gameplay rather than the boring and unbalanced shooting.
While Tokyo 42 has some wonderful aesthetics, including its neat pop-art inspired world, awesome soundtrack and dark sense of humor. It’s a shame that certain fundamentals are painfully crude in execution and handle as well as a shopping cart with no wheels. Tokyo 42 has charm but lacks a solid execution to keep you invested, but is still worth checking out if the price is right.
A PC Review Copy of Tokyo 42 was provided by Mode 7 For the Purpose of this Review.