Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs Review

By Shawn Collier on December 10, 2016

Last year, Aksys Games localized and released Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters on the PS3 and PlayStation Vita. A game in the visual novel genre, it had unique aspects to it but was hampered by some odd design choices which limited its potential as it could cause frustration for those trying to learn its mechanics. So with this year’s enhanced port and re-release, titled Daybreak: Special Gigs, how does it fare now on the PS4?

For those who didn’t play the original, the basic premise of the narrative is that you play as a new transfer student at Kurenai Academy in Tokyo. After introducing yourself to your class and going on a tour of the facilities, you end up on the unused fourth floor of the building. On said floor, you come across a ghost which is quickly exorcised by a group called the Gate Keepers. Because you end up involved in said event and do a good job doing so, the group recruits you.

The overall narrative flow is your typical visual novel faire utilizing an episodic structure. There’s a number of different characters involved, with some being optional that you can recruit and some of those having new story arc in Special Gigs that help flesh out their characterization more.

The main issue most players will have, which was also an issue in the original, is the dialogue choice mechanic the game employs. Instead of your typical dialogue choices, there’s a nonstandard “moods” and “senses” mechanic at play, with symbols that really don’t make all that much sense and are confusing for what veterans of the genre are used to. The game does little to explain how these choices work properly, so players are often up to their own devices. And this is an issue when the game expects a certain choice for certain paths especially.

Playing into the “ghost hunters” title namesake, there’s a battle mechanic introduced not too long into the game. You and up to three allies need to eliminate a particular ghost, which can be accompanied by three other fellow ghosts (to even the odds!). Turns work under an point system, where certain actions such as movement use less points than attacking. The catch is that things aren’t turn-based between the two sides, so players have to best figure out the movements of the ghosts to get the upper hand. There’s also other RPG-lite aspects such as status effects, equipment, traps and items thrown into the mix.

Similar to the dialogue choice explanation issues, I did find some issues with how the developers “explained” the mechanics for a few aspects of the battle mechanics. While some aspects were self-explanatory coming from a JRPG background and the game explaining things well, other aspects weren’t explained that well at all. Overall the help presentation here felt a bit rough.

Graphically there hasn’t been a huge upgrade in the port to the PS4, although granted as its a visual novel title there isn’t really much the developers could do here to boost things compared to other genres. The graphics themselves were already pretty well-detailed, so as things didn’t decrease any from the original versions it’s good to see that stay as it was. The soundtrack fits in nicely with the game, and they have a nice touch by having the save menu update the gig poster based around your current progress. There’s Japanese-only voice overs, but I didn’t find any fault with them during my playthrough.

Final Thoughts

If you didn’t get the chance to play through the original Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, this is easily the recommended version to pick up. But for veterans it’s more of a director’s cut of the original than anything else, so unless that’s enough for you this may not be enough to warrant a second gig.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs was reviewed using a digital copy provided by Aksys Games. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
If you never played the original, this is easily the suggested version to pick up.
Nice to see some gameplay mixed into the usual visual novel format.
Graphics are nicely detailed.
The mood and senses mechanics aren't that well explained in-game.
If you disliked the original's gameplay elements, it's essentially the same thing here again.
If you're a veteran of the original and the new character routes and other extras aren't enough, there isn't much else to entice you in this package.
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