Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs (PlayStation 4) Review

By Renan Fontes 02.10.2016

Review for Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs on PlayStation 4

In a world where ghosts persist and obsess over their strongest desires, it's up to a group called the "Gate Keepers" to keep those spirits at bay and protect the denizens of Tokyo. Blending the visual novel formula with turn based strategy RPG elements, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs, rather ambitiously, seeks to offer a visual novel experience for those who prefer more involved games and an RPG experience for those who prefer the more novelistic and story-heavy approach. A mishmash of genres and ideas, are these ghosts worth pursuing?

Right out the gate, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs shows its biggest, and most persistent, flaw: nothing is properly explained. In conversation, the protagonist will occasionally be allowed to choose an option from a dialogue grid so that he can respond to whoever he's talking to. The problem is, though, the first time it happens, and any subsequent time the grid comes up, there's no explanation to what each choice means.

Worse yet, the dialogue grids are split into two phases. The first phase chooses the protagonist's mood and the second chooses his immediate action. He can be happy, sad, angry, romantic, or what can only be assumed as neutral, and then he can respond with any of the five senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and smell.

Screenshot for Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs on PlayStation 4

It's totally unclear whether these choices matter (spoilers: they really don't), which is unfortunate because this is a level of player control that's rarely been seen this generation. The potential with this mechanic is limitless, and could possibly lead to so many branching paths that visual novels are known for, but it's all too obvious that the player choices are just for show. They'll lead to humorous conversation beats, and then be promptly forgotten so that the story can carry on.

As the overall writing and story is actually quite well done, the attempt at player freedom can be pardoned as a late minute attempt at giving some seldom of control to the reader. After all, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is just as much a visual novel as it is a strategy RPG. Unfortunately, it isn't a particularly good one.

Screenshot for Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs on PlayStation 4

Getting to the first battle should be an exciting moment. Special Gigs' first chapter, while doing a poor job at explaining its mechanics, eases the reader into a world holding a lot of promise. It's genuinely creepy, it plays with visual novel clichés in a fun way, and the writing is solid throughout. The moment the first enemy appears, however, all semblance of atmosphere is shot thanks to its rather generic design, and then the battle actually commences.

Most strategy RPGs have the sense to give their battlefields scenery, unit designs, or even just something aesthetically pleasing to look at. Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters forgoes that silly notion of art design for a minimalistic approach using arrows, boxes, and a very ugly UI. What makes it all the more aggravating is that the visual novel portions are absolutely gorgeous, with character models and backgrounds that look truly alive.

It would be one thing if the strategy portions were just bad aesthetically, but the actual battles are far too frustrating for their own good. Every battle has a turn limit which, while not a bad idea in concept, is made completely infuriating by having player units and enemy units move on the exact same turn. The player turn has to be spent effectively guessing where the enemy ghosts are going to move, and there's little room for error thanks to the turn limit; effectively turning what could have been a good tension based mechanic into a full stop in momentum for the sake of artificially heightening the difficulty.

Screenshot for Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs on PlayStation 4

Setting traps, training units, and equipping new weapons and items can all be used to make battles easier, but each mechanic is integrated so poorly and explained even poorer that there's as much trial and error in figuring out how everything works as there is in trying to win a battle.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs' saving grace is its actual story. Putting the false sense of control to the side, the plot is surprisingly well thought out and respects the reader's reading level, offering some genuinely good prose. The characters themselves also interact with each other brilliantly, but there just aren't enough good gameplay mechanics to call it a good video game.

Screenshot for Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is mixed parts good and bad. On one hand, it shows great concepts in its desire to blend visual novels with turn-based strategy RPGs, while also managing to sport genuinely good writing. On the other hand, it spreads itself too thin between both parts, feeling like two betas to two separate games. It's a shame, really, because Daybreak Special Gigs has some of the most inspired art and sound design this generation hidden under its more frustrating moments. The story is good and the characters are all fun and lively, but it's hardly worth getting through the bad parts to experience them.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Aksys

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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