PC, PS4, Xbox One
Sometimes it helps to get a fresh perspective on things. In Tokyo 42, however, doing so is absolutely essential. In this top-down world, threats are everywhere. Moving and shooting are, as such, tremendously important. But just as vital to your chances of survival are the camera controls, which rotate your perspective to the left or right. This is a game of manipulating space, denying enemies line of sight whether in or out of combat.
“Perspective is the key thing,” says Maciek Strychalski, co-creator of Tokyo 42. “Because we’ve got blocking buildings and stuff, you’re having to constantly rotate the camera. In terms of level design we’ve made sure that at any point you’re visible from two or three angles – but you’re not always visible. Really, half the game is about getting the right angle.”
That’s especially true in a minigame we’re shown, a daft, physics-heavy motorcycle street race that undermines the obvious Akira reference as AI drivers smack haplessly into barrier after barrier. But it’s true everywhere, across the singleplayer’s open world and the more condensed arenas that play host to
Tokyo 42’ s multiplayer death-matches. While it’s given the two-man design team a few problems to overcome – walk into a building and the roof simply lifts off and disappears – the opportunities that lie in putting such emphasis on camera positioning are intriguing.
That’s especially true in multiplayer, which begins with all players milling anonymously in a crowd. You can click on a citizen you think is acting suspiciously, marking them with an eye icon so you can keep track of them. If you think you’re being watched, however, you can simply duck out of sight and change your character skin, reemerging in different clothes, your opponent’s tracker lost. Anonymity is key, then, but impossible to maintain: a depleting battery meter in the bottom corner of the screen can only be topped up by getting kills, and while you load in with a sword at your side, you start with no ammo and can only top it up with conspicuously placed pickups. Powerful guns are left in too-plain sight, too: one level has an assault rifle in a large glass dome in the centre of the level, accessible only by a single door that leads down a long, narrow hallway. Get in, and you’re going to have to fight your way out.
Tokyo 42 began life as a multiplayer game, and a one-level prototype was enough to secure publisher Mode 7’s interest. While map design suggests a style of play – small, enclosed areas for fast-paced combat, larger spaces for more drawn-out engagements – there’ll also be a battle royale mode set across the open world that hosts the singleplayer component. You’re cast as an assassin of sorts in a future Tokyo that is as good as run by a shadowy pharmaceutical company that keeps the population doped up on a drug called Nanomeds. “They rebuild tissue very quickly,” co-creator Sean Wright explains, “so you’re never doing real murder. Being an assassin doesn’t exactly mean killing people, but raising their insurance premiums. It’s a harsh world, but nobody dies.” Right you are.
Nods to the source material come thick and fast – a walker tank inspired by Ghost In The Shell, a shoulder-mounted heavy laser whose explosions are pure Akira – but Tokyo 42 has an identity and style all its own. While the future-anime environments catch the eye, it’s the people within them that bring the whole thing together, helping a series of hand-designed levels cohere into a believable place. Here’s one area in which perspective doesn’t matter: regardless of where the camera is pointed, Tokyo 42 looks great.
“Being an assassin doesn’t mean killing people, but raising their insurance premiums”
FROM TOP Sean Wright and Maciek Strychalski, co-creators of Tokyo42