Small but imperfectly formed
Walking around a city that decorates its streets with giant cat statues or mammoth-sized pills is hell for a photographer. Taking a picture when you’re gazing up at one of these monoliths from below like the tiny human you are is tricky. In the top-down assassination bonanza of Tokyo 42, however, it’s not an issue as you’re looking down on the action from far above. Too far above, in fact. Tokyo 42’s biggest problem is also why it looks so damn fantastic: everything is too small. From your minuscule assassin to the targets you’re meant to eliminate, just seeing what they’re doing and where you are is a nightmare. Despite the levels being beautiful enough to hang on your wall, the inability to zoom in enough means avoiding the admittedly slow-moving bullets from your many enemies is hellish. Playing on PS4 means that you’re sitting at least four feet away from the screen, and it’s painfully obvious that Tokyo 42 isn’t made for that.
REST IN PIECES
Sneaking past a tycoon’s goons gives you a glimpse of what the game should excel at: stealthy assassination with a thick coating of style, where you rotate the map to climb around its dream-like buildings, with patrolling guards at a minimum. Yet missions like this one are few and far between, the more common contract involving getting past a deluge of enemies that will – we guarantee – kill you over and over again. ‘Frustrating’ doesn’t begin to cover how it feels. One hit and you’re a goner. It takes a while before you master weaving between bullets like Neo.
Mind you, the soundtrack is perfect for a game that feels like Blade Runner in a cleaner, technicolour 21st century, and exploring each level is bound to make you delight in the unusual municipal design choices blending Japanese tradition with Brutalism. Switching out your outfits to avoid being pursued is a stroke of brilliance, too, as is pitting nudists against punks in a turf war (no joke). These are the best contracts, letting you explore the levels and focusing on discretion rather than going in all-guns-blazing. Tokyo 42 is a well-intentioned jaunt around a wondrous city, but you’ll need a magnifying glass to enjoy it on PS4.
An over-emphasis on being outnumbered makes a master assassin in real life. Yet here, coupled with a lack of stealth missions, equals one frustrated player. Zoe Delahunty-Light