Tango Gameworks’ Ghostwire: Tokyo envisions its Japanese city as a ghost town — literally — with the dead roaming the streets and few humans left alive after a mysterious paranormal event. But at one point during development, Ghostwire’s open world looked different, the developers told Fanbyte in a recent interview.
As the writing team bounced around ideas for the story’s direction, one consideration was to fill the open world with more humans, rather than leaving protagonist Akito (and his spirit friend, KK) to wander the city alone. In this scrapped idea, Tokyo’s Shibuyo would still have had its strange paranormal event leaving much of the city abandoned, but others would have survived too.
“In one of the iterations of the storylines we created, yes, there were still people that were alive in the city,” game director Kenji Kimura tells Fanbyte. “But it made things a little bit more difficult with some of the side missions and the gameplay to have humans still existing there. And so to make the game easier to understand, and to make it more enjoyable, we removed all those humans that were still alive.”
The biggest hurdle was how much the story would change with those added characters roaming the world. Protagonists Akito and KK have a chance meeting during the beginning of the game, and their fusion allows for them to survive together. What would the others be doing? Would they be on a similar quest to save Tokyo?
It would have made for a drastic change in direction, for both storytelling and gameplay. Our reviewer Michael Higham, for example, critiques that one of Ghostwire’s biggest flaws is how formulaic the open world feels, as you bounce from one task to the next. Stronger, recurrent characters could have helped fill that void.
“If there were other people that still survived this supernatural vanishing event, then the question arose of, how did the other people survive? And what do those other people know about this big vanishing event?” Kimura says. “We started going down the path of, ‘Okay, do we want to start depicting how these other people also survived? And what exactly are they going to be doing in parallel to what KK and Akito are doing?’ And then we decided we wanted this story just to be focused on Akito and KK to better communicate the storyline and the gameplay that we wanted to put into the game.”
Read the full interview with the lead development team of Tango Gameworks here.