IntroductionTokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is an adventure visual novel about a team of ghost hunters (duh) as they take on multiple cases to help protect people and further their researches in the field. It has light strategy role-playing elements implanted into the actual hunting and combat. Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters was originally released in Japan in 2014 and was brought to North America by Aksys Games for the PS3s and Vitas in 2015, and NIS America brought the game to Europe a few days later. The Daybreak Special Gigs edition released in late 2015 in Japan for the PS3, PS4 and Vita, and has now made its way to North America (European release in October 2016). It has received focused attention to the combat as well as added story details. You can buy the game on the PlayStation Store for the PS4 ($49.99) or PS Vita ($39.99).
StoryThe game starts off as you are arriving at your next school, Kurenai Academy, after a short general intro setting the premise for the existence of ghosts in our world. You bump into a girl running, who you introduce yourself with, as well as another female student, later known as Shiga, who has a certain connection with spirits but discourages herself from believing it. Chizuru Fukurai, the Editor in Chief of The Gatekeepers, will also jump into the story quickly in the introduction as she is at the school for her investigation. I won't give away too much of the story at the beginning as it is a great one to experience without knowing about, but your first case will come in the form of the school being haunted by a ghost/man in a burning coat. He's extremely dangerous as he has somehow already brought an end to one schoolgirl's life. You'll more or less accidentally become involved with the hunt, but this will result in being offered a position with the Gatekeepers who will continue to go throughout Tokyo battling and exorcising demons.
GameplayYou'll be able to essentially embed yourself into the character you will play as when in your first class, different students ask you questions (where is your hometown in Japan, what's your favorite class, height, weight, eyesight, and if you'll be joining any clubs or sports). When in the text dialogs with characters, you'll be given 1 of two different forms to respond with; the wheel and actual dialog choices. The wheel will show 5 different symbols (a fist, a heart, a handshake, a question mark inside of a head, and a teardrop) representing anger, friendliness, love, sadness, and curiosity. After selecting one of the 5 icons on the first wheel, you'll be taken to another one in the same style that allows you to choose touch, listen, observe, and taste.
The combination you choose will result in how you interact with the characters, but the game doesn't explain to you how they will turn out and is almost a guessing game at first. After you grasp the idea of it, it's pretty easy to predict (friendly icon and then touch will mean for a handshake, the curiosity icon with the smell icon will allow you to investigate the smell of sulfur when asked, the love icon with touch icon will...well I'm sure you can imagine). Being mindful of your choices is important as it will completely shape the characters future interactions with you (you don't want to be the new student who, as Shiga would put it, is a pervert). Choosing who to be friendly with and who to try romance on is something that can be challenged and explored with more than one play through.
It won't be long until you are given your own Ouija Pad, the device that allows you to see your characters and the ghosts on a grid-like layout of the combat area (seen below). The combat is fairly luck based, at least until you are able to purchase some equipment to assist blocking them into an hour. You'll move your characters on an AP system, meaning you may decide to move 4 squares and then place them in standby mode, or move them 2 or 3 squares with an attack to finish. Where to move them is the tricky part, since you move your characters based on where you think the enemy will be, not where they are; sometimes you'll move too far and pass them, sometimes you won't get close enough for your attack to do anything, and other times they'll simply just avoid you all together.
After you get into a good position and the attack actually renders, you'll be taken into a first person view where it'll show the ghost and how much your attack damaged them. Being bumped into by a ghost though will leave your character injured. It's not a horrible combat system, but you are not told in much detail how to strategize movements other than the repeated "predict enemy movements." It'll take just a little bit of time to grasp, though, nothing too complex, and you'll eventually catch on to little tricks or the best spacing between characters and ghosts that'll allow you to successfully connect with attacks.
Sound and GraphicsI was a little bit confused when it came to the way some sounds were used (or not used). It seemed fairly random when music would play during times of text dialog, while other times it was completely silent. The main music fits with the rock band theme that occasionally occurs, but felt a tad bit out of place with the other sounds when changing back and forth as it tended to sound louder. But everything else is beyond fitting; the school bell sounds like a grandfather clock chiming with an eerie ring, or the engine of the vehicle starting up, etc. While there is no English voice, there is also minimal Japanese speaking; mostly at the beginning or end, or a few gasping remarks scattered throughout. While I have enjoyed hearing the Japanese voicing in other games, the lack of kept it feeling more connectable to in my opinion.
The art style is beautiful, bright, and sharp. Characters will appear on screen, and instead of being static cutouts, they blink, sway, and flow, allowing for everything to feel like a living world. The backdrops and environment visuals will occasionally have a painted look to them but still extremely pleasant to look at. You'll often times see moving animations or cutscenes that will have their own slightly different art style, playing out the point of view of a spying demon, or a depiction of one's storytelling.
ConclusionTokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs provides an incredibly fun adventure full of intriguing characters and settings. The interaction and conversations are incredibly deep and impactful to the game and future dialogs which are something I'm sure everyone would be greatly appreciative of being able to experiment with. Several characters offer different personalities and potential sub stories around the main plot, where they also bring diversity to. The combat aspect of the game is a little strange in comparison to the rest of the visual novel but after practicing and learning, becomes less of a task, and more just part of the adventure. It's advertised to have 30+ hours and there is no denying you'll get that much and more out of this game, especially with the amount of replay value after your first completion.
|+ Great story with interesting high school setting||- Combat is fairly luck based at first|
|+ A bunch of fun and unique characters||- Interaction wheel is vague|
|+ Crisp and bright art style|
|+ Extensive replay value|