By: John Mills
I want to confess something to start this review: I was hyped for Tokyo 42. Watching the trailers, gameplay teasers, and people playing it on YouTube got me really excited.
It was disappointing to learn then, when I actually began to play it, that I was going to be highly let down with the final project.
I’m hardly the first person to be let down by a game, but let’s get deeper into what went wrong.
Actually, let’s start with the good aspects of this game. I realize that it’s a bit of a hard cut, but there’s some good things to say about this game.
First, it’s very aesthetically pleasing. The visual style is clean, bright, and colorful. The game is a joy to look at, and I enjoy just exploring the eponymous city.
The whole thing is propped up into the clouds and it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s wonderful through and through. Second, the music is right on point.
It has a digital sound that fits with the futuristic, bright landscape and futuristic technology very well. The third point I want to touch on is the exploring.
Every horizontal surface is reachable if you can find your way there. It’s amazing to move around this highly detailed landscape and figure out how to get where you want to be.
The world is rich with secrets and collectibles. Finally, finding your way to a tough secret or collectible is truly satisfying. Unfortunately, that’s where the good parts of this game really end.
So what’s the bad? The camera is constantly problematic. To elaborate, the camera is isometric and controlled manually in 45 degree increments by the ‘Q’ and ‘E’ keys.
This actually works well when exploring and you can shift it around to ensure the best angle for whatever move you’re trying to make when contemplating your next move.
Problems arise in combat when—due to the game’s one-hit-kill bullet hell nature—you don’t have time to move the camera to a better angle for both shooting and dodging.
This has gotten me killed more times than I know. It makes an already challenging game more difficult than it needs to be.
I have no problem with difficult games—I wrote an entire column about how I enjoyed them—but overly difficult because of mishandled mechanics is in a different category.
This problem is magnified because it’s the core gameplay mechanic. It’s not something that can be worked around
In the end, the issue with Tokyo 42 is that the problems with combat badly overshadow the rest of the game.
Everything that’s truly fun and enjoyable is unfortunately lost in the stumbling, creaky mess of combat mechanics.
Tokyo 42 is like a car the enters a drift every time you make a left turn. Sure, most of it works as intended, but there is still a critical flaw that ruins the rest of the car.