You’re having a relaxing evening at your apartment in Tokyo. “BREAKING NEWS! Murder in Tokyo! The first murder of 2042 has been confirmed by police. Thanks to the Tokyo Police Department’s tireless detective work, the culprit has been identified.” You look at the TV screen and notice a familiar face…it’s YOU. So begins the setting for Tokyo 42, a minimalist isometric action game developed by SMAC Games and published by Mode 7. This is our Tokyo 42 review.
From the moment that you are wanted for murder, you are never alone. Messages are sent to your phone telling you where you need to go and what you need to do. Tycho, your newfound friend, guides you out of your apartment and into the game’s prologue area. Hey since you’re wanted for murder, may as well become a hired assassin to earn money…right?!
Missions are given to you via terminals and your handlers, such as Tycho. You are slowly gaining favor and cash to climb the food chain to get the attention of more powerful and connected clients. The missions are varied and numerous, so finding something to do is never a problem. You’re always going to be working for someone.
I want all the things.
Collectibles, you say? Say no more! Tokyo 42 gives them out in spades: Weapon shaders, outfits, weapons, weapons, weapons, coats and cats…yes cats. You are also given a set of binoculars and, of course, a long list of points of interest that you can collect.
Missions can earn more than just reputation and cash; you can also earn a badge showing how stealthily you were able to complete the mission; Ninja, Ronin or Roninja (or nothing if you don’t meet the requirements such as being spotted and/or fail to kill everyone before escaping).
But wait, there’s more!
Combat is easy to pick up; you aim with the right analog, run with the left. Clicking the right analog allows you to zoom out further for weapons such as the sniper rifle. Left and right triggers throw grenades and fire weapons (or swing a katana) respectively. Quick selecting a weapon is handled by pressing Up on the DPad, then picking your weapon and hitting A on the pop-up UI window. Stealth is a matter of pressing X to crouch down. Jumping (WITH NO FALL DAMAGE!) is mapped to A. The shoulder buttons allow you to rotate the world on-the-fly 90 degrees at a time.
You can change your avatar into another person with a simple touch of the B button. This is useful when enemies are looking for a white male with blond hair and you shift into a black female. There is a charge bar on the UI that will limit this ability, but the map has numerous charging locations to refill the bar.
While on your missions, you may trigger those words on purpose by shooting innocent citizens, or by accident while trying to assassinate your target. But when a dropship of police fly onto the screen and drop, it’s time to start strafing, ducking, shooting and running to survive. You’re not going to survive, however, as Tokyo 42’s Cop Drop gameplay will just bring in another dropship with increasingly more difficult police (and eventually robots) to end you. This should sound familiar to anyone that has played Grand Theft Auto. Yes, it’s fun.
Have katana, will travel
Getting around the map becomes easier as you progress and visit new places. Portals automatically unlock as you approach them, allowing for quick travel. You can use these portals at any time to go anywhere as long as you’re not in a restricted area. This is a major plus as the map becomes quite large, this is Tokyo after all.
Tokyo 42 is just a lot of fun. You can play in short bursts, or long play sessions and still feel satisfied that you accomplished something. Running around the large map, seeing a collectible perched on a ledge will make you forget about anything but figuring out how to get to it. Acquiring cash needed to purchase bigger and badder guns never felt like a tedious chore, the game rewards you in numerous ways with mission rewards, secret coins, and drops from fallen gang members.
While I am primarily a PC keyboard and mouse loyalist, I felt the isometric camera made WASD movement a bit wonky. It’s like trying to play Q-Bert, you need to press SD, SA, WA and WD for diagonal movement. Luckily, Tokyo 42 supports controllers natively. I used a USB Xbox One controller and immediately the game controls extremely well with the analogs.
As a side note, since I have a young son (he’s 8) and I’m sensitive about what he can play, Tokyo 42 self-censors language with “*%*&^#$” and the violence and blood are very minimal.
Tokyo 42 releases on May 31st for PC and Xbox One, the PS4 version will be released in Mid-July and will retail for $19.99. This review copy was tested on Win 10 64-bit, i7-6700K @ 4.0 GHz, 16GB Ram, GeForce 980 Ti. It was done with a retail PC code provided by the developer.