In Ghostwire: Tokyo, you wake up to the mass disappearance of nearly the entire population of Tokyo, paving the way for otherworldly visitors to take over the city. Resembling real-life superstitions, folklore, yokai, and urban legends, these Visitors won’t be stopped by conventional weapons alone. You’ll have to work alongside an unlikely ally, the spirit of a grizzled detective named KK, to gain the powers and abilities necessary to hunt down the perpetrators of Tokyo’s disappearance and restore reality to the city.
In addition to equipment like a powerful bow and arrow and mystical techniques like Ethereal Weaving, knowledge is also a useful tool in resolving the paranormal threat engulfing Tokyo. These are just a few examples of the beings, both hostile and potentially friendly, that you’ll encounter on the haunted streets of Tokyo, as well as a bit of information to help you on your ghost-hunting adventure.
Based on the urban legend of the kuchisake-onna, also known as the “Woman with an Open Mouth,” Ghostwire’s Kuchisake is a ruthless visitor in the form of a masked woman wielding enormous scissors. In the original folklore, the kuchisake-onna asks her victims if they think she is beautiful, only to reveal her disfigured smile. She then repeats the question, often maiming the victim with similar scars if they falsely claim that she is pretty or killing her outright if she says otherwise.
“At least part of the inclusion of kuchisake-onna was due to how ubiquitous the concept is in Japan as an urban legend,” explains game director Kenji Kimura. “That said, what ultimately led to the inclusion was the fact that at first glance they don’t look like monsters, just normal women in coats. As such, they complemented one of our goals for the game: to portray the haunting and extraordinary within completely ordinary settings. As they get closer to the player, you can hear them snapping and slashing as they open and close. It generates an extra immersive listening sensation when experienced through the 3D audio capabilities of PlayStation 5.”
Clever misdirection can help prevent you from becoming kuchisake-onna’s prey, and beating Ghostwire’s version requires a similar approach. When he gets close, use your ethereal weave to summon a blocking barrier at just the right moment to stop his attacks, but beware, even the deadliest of enemies lurk in the alleys of Tokyo. “Ghostwire: Tokyo also features another variety of kuchisake-onna in red clothing. That version is inspired by a different urban legend involving a woman in red,” explains Kimura. “In that sense, the kuchisake-onna in Ghostwire isn’t just drawn directly from legend and folklore, but rather as a combination and reimagining of concepts.”
While visitors like the bloodthirsty Kuchisake pose a serious threat to the unprepared, not all supernatural beings in Tokyo are enemies. Some, like the wandering tengu that hover over the city’s skyline, can be crucial assets in your quest.
Look near the tops of buildings (or take advantage of your Spectral Vision ability) to spot these yokai in the air, and use your Grapple ability to climb onto the rooftops of Tokyo! In addition to unlocking entirely new areas to explore, the city skyline offers wide vantage points to drop enemies on, as well as chances to get an awesome shot in Ghostwire’s Photo Mode.
“The top priority for the yokai designs in Ghostwire: Tokyo was to ensure that they were all unique and easily distinguishable,” says lead character artist Yoshifumi Hattori. “In the case of the tengu, that meant wearing clothes similar to those of yamabushi, a kind of spiritual hermit who lives in the mountains. We chose to turn them into tengu birds specifically because we felt something more beastly would fit in well with the urban landscape. After all, Tokyo is full of crows.
“There are many different stories of tengu depending on the region and time period,” adds Kimura. “The ones that caught our attention were the ones that showed people being carried from one place to another in the blink of an eye by tengu, as well as the creatures whipping up strong winds to lift objects into the air. These things made us think it would be fun to transport players to high places in the game.”
As mischievous as they are often lovable, tanukis are a famous staple of traditional Japanese folklore. Often depicted as tricksters, these mythical raccoon dogs are known to possess shape-shifting powers. “We gave them a distinctive way of speaking by having them use the regional dialect that is prevalent in the part of Japan famous for the tanuki legends,” says Kimura. “Beyond that, each of the creatures is characterized by their various clothing, accessories and headgear.”
As you tour Tokyo, you will discover that a group of these little ones have been lost in the streets. Dealing with them can be quite rewarding, but it will also require a keen eye – after all, tanuki are masters of disguise. See a sign or bowl of ramen that’s a little out of place? It could be a tanuki!
Shine Dancers get their name and appearance from teru teru bōzu, traditional paper dolls commonly designed as adorable charms wishing good weather. However, the Airborne Visitors taking to the skies of Tokyo are less of a lucky omen and more of a threat capable of ambushing from the air (or even hiding like a harmless piece of cloth, so keep your eyes peeled).
“For Ghostwire: Tokyo, it was important to us to depict the haunting and the extraordinary within completely ordinary settings,” says Kimura. “To achieve that vision, we went to great lengths to incorporate things that look like ordinary people on the outside or appear harmless, but can take on a creepy look depending on the interpretation.”
“Teru-teru bōzu charms are an example of this. In Japan, these are items that are hung under the eaves of buildings to ward off rain and invite good fortune. However, seen another way, they look like dolls hanging from the neck. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition, which is what makes Shine Dancers one of my favorite visitors.”
Like their counterparts in Japanese folklore, the kappas in Ghostwire are amphibious yokai found near water. They possess helpful Magatama that can unlock your potential to learn better skills, but they are also sneaky little creatures to catch. “Kappa was not that difficult to incorporate into [Ghostwire: Tokyo]Kimura says. “If you look at the Tokyo cityscape, you will find a surprising number of rivers and ponds, as well as fountains located in commercial facilities. These kinds of water fountains are familiar sights to anyone who lives in the city.”
“The kappa in our game are the [variety] people easily imagine, including his usual head and shell plate,” adds Hattori. “When it came to the finer details and other things, we added elements that are more typically seen in creature designs made outside of Japan.”
Fortunately, much like the myths they’re based on, the kappas in Ghostwire can’t resist their favorite snack as bait. Those familiar with kappa folklore already know what food we’re talking about, but here’s a hint: It’s a green vegetable known for staying cool. As for where to get one, you might have some luck at a nearby store or kiosk…
Speaking of stores, convenience stores and other kiosks in the city may be operated by a new generation of merchants: a yokai nekomata that resembles a cat with two tails.
“The original idea was to make the shops places that players could wander into when they needed a break from exploring the city and fighting the Visitors. We thought it would be nice if the shops could have something in them that would put the player at ease, and that’s how we came to have nekomata in charge of the shops,” says Kimura.
Ghostwire’s nekomata are happy to offer the player provisions, ammunition, and other supplies… for a fee, of course. You will need to acquire a special currency called Meika by completing quests to pay for your goods. From time to time, you may also be tasked with acquiring some special items for the nekomata. We suggest doing these favors for Ghostwire’s feline friends: they may not believe in a free lunch, but they know how to reward a hard-working ghost hunter.
“There are a lot of rewards to be had by helping them locate the items they need, but there’s also a relaxing element to the whole dynamic,” says Kimura. “When you give them items, the nekomata will actually use them. These are things like lion masks, pumpkins, hairpins, and more. We hope players realize how cute they look when wearing these accessories.”
“As a general rule, yokai are not harmful to humans. Even with a specific variety, you will find stories of them attacking and helping humans,” Kimura continues. “If anything, they tend to take a more neutral position towards humanity. This is because, conceptually, yokai were originally intended to personify natural or unexplained phenomena.”
“In other words, even though you may not see them, they could always be nearby, minding their own business. You can contrast this with the kind of monsters you often find in urban legends. Many of them seem to be generated from the negative emotions that people carry with them, their anxieties, etc. I think that’s why, by comparison, you tend to hear more stories about how they harm people. This is the thought that informs Ghostwire: Tokyo, a game in which players acquire yokai powers and use them to fight against the monsters of urban legend.
Ghostwire: Tokyo launches March 25 on PlayStation 5 – reserve today to receive the Premium Biker outfit pack and Hannya outfit items! Players with an active PlayStation® Plus membership can also receive a 10% discount on pre-purchase of the digital version of the game on PlayStation Store. Other terms and conditions apply, offers may not be available in all regions.