Blending stealth and action elements is a formula built for success. However, does Tokyo 42's unique take on the genre result in a worthwhile isometric open world adventure?
Just by one look at Tokyo 42, you know that it's a unique game. The striking pixel-perfect visual style gives the impression that it's rendered in two dimensions although the environments are actually 3D. In fact, you can rotate the camera at eight different positions whenever you want to get a better look at your surroundings. The city itself is full of distinct areas that offer an impressive amount of variety to the overall atmosphere. Speaking of which, the soundtrack is composed of trippy music that ranges from mood-setting melodies to toe-tapping broken beats. Also, the tunes seamlessly fade into each other as you play which sounds great. On the other hand, the sound effects aren't anything special and the lack of voice acting makes the world less lively than it could be. In the end, Tokyo 42's impressive graphical style and soundtrack are sure to delight fans of indie gaming.
When it comes to gameplay, Tokyo 42 is basically an open world mission-based game similar to Grand Theft Auto. However, the missions tend to play more like Metal Gear Solid due to their stealthy nature. Most missions involve assassinating a target which is reminiscent of Hitman although sneaking around enemy guards and carefully thinning out the herd of foes on your way to the target will make you feel more like Snake than Agent 47. You'll also find yourself luring opposing parties to fight each other, riding motorcycles, and wearing disguises to fit in to certain areas. It's quite a varied campaign that will keep you hooked to see what the next mission will involve.
No matter what a mission calls for, the amount of strategy required makes mastering it a rewarding endeavor. Sometimes, rushing in with guns blazing will do the trick but you may have to carefully duck behind planters and systematically cut through guards with your katana from time to time. Figuring out the ideal route and executing a plan that comes together perfectly feels oh so satisfying.
All of this being said, the controls are incredibly clunky and extremely unintuitive. I found myself fumbling around trying to equip weapons and use certain abilities hours into my playthrough which just goes to show how needlessly convoluted the controls are. I wish you could just aim and shoot but there are two modes of aiming which is still confusing as I write this. Sometimes, the camera will lock in place because you forgot to cancel out of the long range aiming mode and then lose track of your character in the process. Now that I mentioned the camera, it constantly requires you to change angles due to the crowded city's buildings always getting in the way. This is especially irritating while trying to ride the motorcycle. On top of this, it's often too far away which makes tracking your character more difficult than it should be. In short, the awkward controls and camera are Tokyo 42's biggest flaws.
Before I wrap this up, I encountered a few glitches throughout my time with Tokyo 42 that stood out as odd. For example, you can usually jump on top of elevators in order to ascend the sides of buildings but I came across one where I constantly fell through it and perished. It's inconsistencies like this that can add unnecessary frustration to an already challenging game.
Tokyo 42 is a refreshing take on the action/stealth genre. Although it's definitely rough around the edges in its current state, I hope the developers work on a sequel because this is one memorable and promising gaming experience.
- + Stunning visual style and great music
- + Mission-based open world campaign provides a variety of enjoyable scenarios
- + A satisfying amount of strategy is required
- - Controls are unintuitive and clunky
- - Problematic camera constantly needs tending to and is often too far away
- - Has its fair share of odd glitches