You’re enjoying a quiet night at home, eating something you got out of the microwave and watching the evening news. Suddenly, a breaking report on the years first murder, committed by…you!
Then, your phone rings.
This is the brilliant opening moment of Tokyo 42, a hyper stylized shooter by SMAC Games and Mode 7 that places you in the middle of a brightly colored, surreal isometric open world where you have to step up and become a top-tier assassin to find out why you’ve been set up and clear your name.
Because that’s clearly the BEST course of action in this scenario.
Title: Tokyo 42
Developer: SMAC Games
Publisher: Mode 7
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by Publisher
Interface: Keyboard & Mouse
Available on Steam and Xbox One. PS4 Coming Mid-July
Tokyo 42 is a hyper-stylish isometric open-world shooter. Framed for a murder you didn’t commit, you’ll delve into a world of assassins, deadly corporate intrigue and cats. Explore this beautifully hand-crafted micro Tokyo and discover its secrets.
You’re dropped into the action quickly in Tokyo 42, thrust into a bright neon world of assassins and contract killers with nothing but a friend guiding you to some people that know more and might be able to help. While the first few missions of Tokyo 42 are fairly straightforward and constrained tutorial missions, very quickly the world begins to open up like a cyberpunk flower of chaos and carnage.
The freedom to do things more or less the way you want is my favorite part of Tokyo 42. Sure, some missions will have stipulations on how things are to be handled, or what weapons you have to use, but for the vast majority of the game, it’s up to you to decide if you’ll be stealthy, kill from afar or go in guns blazing. You have access to a whole host of weapons from pistols to golf clubs, katanas to miniguns, and grenades of every form and flavor.
This isn’t to say that you can approach every situation in the same way though. Some encounters will see you ripped to shreds in seconds if you don’t employ stealth, but the great thing is your allowed to try and fail in any way you want. That open ended nature makes your actions and decisions have weight and importance, even if they aren’t always successful.
One of the game’s main mechanics is shifting your perspective (If you’ve ever played Fez, you’ll be familiar with this mechanic), and I’m a little torn with its use in Tokyo 42. On one hand, it immediately lends perspective and scale to the environments and the game as a whole. Each engagement is like a puzzle, and sometimes changing the angle you’re looking at things from reveals new avenues of approach or possibilities. On the other hand, some time it felt very jarring to me having to turn the map, quickly jerking from left and right at 90 degree increments. I would have preferred the ability to rotate the map and view gradually, getting exactly the view I wanted of this stunning city.
The presentation of this tiny Tokyo-esq city is absolutely spectacular. While there are some pockets of coherency, mostly the cityscape is a riotous mix of colors and angles, peppered with strange billboards and statues. Giant faces loom at you as you line up shots and enourmous billboards advertise all sorts of products as explosions disrupt the normal hustle and bustle. It all feels very surreal, but also wonderfully inviting, like a playground of possibilities for you to explore and disrupt.
The sound design and music in Tokyo 42 also deserves a specific mention. The city has a low buzz about it that feels very appropriate, and the audio feedback from movement and gunplay sounds struck me as particularly satisfying. The music in the game is equal parts synth chill and electro boss battle, if that makes any sense at all, a fits perfectly. The aesthetics of the game all work and blend together wonderfully to create a world in which you’re very quickly absorbed.
NOTE: Tokyo 42 also has a multiplayer mode, which I have not had the chance to try out. Now that the game has been released to the world, I’m planning to play a few matches and will update our review with some impressions in the near future!
Tokyo 42 is a beautiful and busy world, full of things to do and people to kill. Just like you’re character, you will feel a bit thrown into the deep end of a world much larger than yourself, forced to adapt and learn quickly. However, that process of becoming an assassin, mastering the games mechanics, and learning how to traverse this city is extremely satisfying and will not disappoint.