Tokyo 42

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

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