Tokyo 42 was announced towards the back end of 2016 and immediately grabbed the attention of gamers with its unique and highly stylised aesthetic. Its isometric view of Tokyo and its rooftops really do make the game stand out from others available.
The game is all set to launch on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on 31st May and for many people, the aesthetics are enough to warrant the purchase of £15.99. But for those yet to decide, what else does it offer?
In Tokyo 42 you play as an unnamed man who has just been framed for a murder he didn’t commit. To clear your name, you, the player, with the help of your best friend named Tycho, decide to become a hitman. The deeper you delve into this crime underworld, the more you start to uncover that the major pharmaceutical company Nano-Med (whose advertising features prominently in the game world and even the Tokyo 42 title), may not be all that they seem.
The jury remains out on whether this method of clearing your name is the most effective way to prove your innocence, but it does help form the basis of the stealth/twin-stick shooter.
The main story takes place across 25 missions, but there are many more side missions to extend the game. These vary from a standard hit, to taking out enemy strongholds and even see a few time trials thrown in. Some of these missions also reward you with one of three ratings at the end: Ronin, Ninja or the portmanteau, Roninja. Ronin is awarded when you kill every enemy in the mission, Ninja for completing the mission without being spotted, and Roninja for killing all without being spotted. Some missions only offer a Ronin or Ninja, but it is Roninja which is the ultimate reward offered on only a handful of missions.
Of course, the missions handed to you don’t simply involve killing innocent people, as there are a number of gangs in Tokyo that need putting in their place. However, these aren’t your typical Yakuza type.
The game offers a bit of humour with gangs such as punks, mini-golfers and nudists. Some missions can be solved by simply starting a turf war between the gangs, but many stronghold missions involve quelling their numbers.
When not taking out gang members, Tokyo 42 has a world begging to be explored, not least because of the way it’s presented; there are also a myriad of collectibles to be discovered ranging from overcoats to weapon skins. There are even different skins for your cat. Most of these hidden items require varying degrees of platforming action or tougher still, discovering many of the secrets hidden within the buildings themselves.
The previously mentioned cats are a vital tool at your disposal during the multiplayer. The multiplayer takes the form of a standard deathmatch against other player opponents on custom made maps, much smaller than the single player areas. The difference is that you do not know which of the NPC pedestrians is your enemy, which is where your feline friend comes in handy. The cat has the ability to follow any suspected individuals you think may be your enemy, making it useful when there are a couple of suspects you need to keep an eye on.
The ‘Trackacat’ as it is affectionately known, also becomes available later on during the single-player portion, helping to ease you onto the difficulty curve.
If it wasn’t apparent from the accompanying screenshots and introduction then Tokyo 42 is a visually striking game. Its isometric approach to the camera allows you to see the depth of the rooftops you clamber over. The buildings and statues on top of those then become even more visually impressive.
The gunplay also fits the overall aesthetic, with bullets appearing as blue and orange orbs within the world. These bullets are typically slower than normal bullets as they allow the player time to dodge and hide from, but not straight outrun. This makes the gun choice more important; sniper rifles fire bullets quicker than most but much slower rate of fire, assault rifles fire more but at a noticeably slower speed.
Tokyo 42 is the creation of Sean Wright and Maciek Strychalski who run the studio Smac Games. They describe Tokyo 42 as the lovechild between the original Syndicate and Grand Theft Auto games. The gameplay certainly borrows from them both, more from GTA in terms of gameplay, however the story is more on the side of Syndicate, as Tokyo 42 has a more serious undertone with only slight smatterings of humour. The world may be brightly and beautifully coloured, bordering on garish at times with some of the sculptures dotted around the open-world, but the story is a lot darker.
Tokyo 42 launches on Xbox One and PC come Wednesday 31st May. As mentioned at the beginning, the art style will be enough for most people to buy the game, but this preview piece has hopefully filled in some of the missing info. Our full review will be available on launch day where we can give our full thoughts.