General game information
Game name: Tokyo 42
Release date: May 23, 2017
Price: US$ 19.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Isometric open world shooter
Developer: SMAC Games
Publisher: Mode 7
Tokyo 42 is an isometric open world shooter that tasks players with assassinating a number of targets in a world where death has been rendered almost irrelevant thanks to the efforts of a nanotech corporation. We play as an innocent citizen looking for a way out after they get blamed for a murder they didn’t commit, and we’ll have to kill goon after goon in order to unravel a conspiracy and survive in this strange future.
Setting, characters and story
The game’s futuristic Tokyo is incredibly pretty, although it probably shares very little with the real world location. Most buildings are made up from different cubic shapes, and the vibrant art style brings the city to life in a way that must be seen to be believed. Civilians and other NPC factions go about their business, moving through the busy streets like ants and creating the illusion of a living environment that is ready to absorb us at any time.
As expected from a futuristic city, Tokyo is full of flying vehicles that dart around the edge of the screen, offering a glimpse at a world that took the best things from The Fifth Element, but chose to discard the contaminated high rise apartment buildings and toxic slums in favor of a clean, bristling metropolis.
With such an excellent playground for us to explore, I must say that I was a bit disappointed by the game’s story and characters, as we’ll find classic types that have been done to exhaustion and a cliche-filled narrative that didn’t to a lot to separate itself from other titles telling a similar tale, aside from the obvious differences borne out of the setting. I was also turned off by the game’s humor, but your mileage may vary on that.
Playing Tokyo 42 can either be a joy or a nightmare, with very little in between. The development team nailed the tight on-foot sequences, but horribly botched the vehicle sections that will pop up from time to time, mostly due to the perspective and the way players must handle camera movement. Luckily, most of the time we’ll be on foot, sneaking through trigger happy hordes or searching for the perfect vantage point in order to assassinate our target with a single sniper rifle shot.
As the game progresses, we’ll gain access to a number of weapons that can be very useful in specific situations but, to the developers’ credit, I didn’t felt forced to own a particular tool (with some exceptions, of course) and the open levels let me approach the situations I had to face in wildly different ways. A disguise system is also available, letting players become a member of a specific faction for as long as their energy lasts (we’ll have to find recharge spots in order to continue using our disguises after our own supply runs out) and adding even more options when facing particularly tough challenges.
Aside from a generous arsenal of pistols, assault rifles, rocket launchers and sniper rifles, we’ll be able to use grenades, katanas and high tech gadgets. Earlier missions won’t require much planning, but late game scenarios will often ask almost herculean feats from us, with alert guards patrolling every insertion point, powerful Nemesis characters that act like civilians until they are close enough to take us down, and heavily armored police squads ready to drop from their flying cars if we murder too many innocents while trying to get to our targets. Luckily for us, the game doesn’t penalize death too heavily, simply sending us back to the latest checkpoint we activated before biting the dust.
Sadly, Tokyo 42‘s camera isn’t as forgiving as its death penalties, and it will often be the cause of our demise, as we must keep rotating it in order to see enemy forces, or check if the ground below us is real or if it’s just a cloudly pit of death. As I said previously, vehicle sections highlight the game’s camera problems very clearly, since we are forced to rotate the camera at high speeds, while also trying to control an unwieldy motorcycle. Considering that we can use a network of portals to quickly teleport between areas, I’d rather be forced to walk/run than use the available vehicles. Thankfully, forced vehicle missions aren’t common, so I only had to endure their torture for a relatively short period of time.
A player versus player multiplayer mode is also available, and it lets us use the campaign’s stealth mechanics to blend in and strike our human opponents when they least expect it. I had fun with it, but right now it’s quite basic and I don’t see it lasting for a long time. Hopefully the developers will be able to add more modes in the future, or a stats tracking system that would at least give it some much needed longevity.
Graphics, sound and performance
Tokyo 42 is a beautiful game, and I would be lying if I said that I’m not willing to forgive some of its most frustrating moments in honor of its vibrant and clean art style. Buildings rise from the clouds, green mazes invite us to discover the secrets they hide, and busy streets populated with a variety of civilians, cops and warring factions rendered in a blocky, low-poly style create the feeling that we are watching a diorama, or an ant farm.
On the audio front, Tokyo 42 fares almost as well as it does on its graphics department, as its soundtrack hits all the right tunes, creating tension and excitement when it needs to, or simply accompanying the player as they move through the world. The ingame sound effects didn’t quite match the high bar set by the soundtrack and the beautiful graphics, but with the exception of the gunshot sounds which felt weak and underpowered, I can’t complain about them.
Tokyo 42 looks amazing and it’s often fun to play, but a few key issues drag down the experience quite a bit. While the game’s stealth systems are well done and the faction mechanics and open ended design can generate truly exciting moments, everything comes tumbling down when vehicles are involved, due to clunky camera movement and unresponsive controls.
6.5/10 – Good.