Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is a combination of a visual novel experience aligned with a very strategic role-playing design tied to it. The original title, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, was released across all three Sony platforms back in 2014 in Japan, while the western releases came out a year later. Much of the game has you interacting with a lot of characters and understanding the story’s direction through various decisions that the player must make, as they venture through the game’s mysterious world hunting ghosts. If you’ve played the original Tokyo Twilight then you’ll feel right at home with this as it’s mainly just an updated version with a revamped battle system to provide a smoother experience.
What to expect
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is all about reading between the lines as you cruise through the game dealing with various scenarios, and coming face to face with ghostly enemies in a strategic battlefield. There isn’t much of a detailed breakdown pertaining to the functions of the game which may come across as strange for some, but the game felt more like a trial and error experience as you spent more time with it. You’ll be tested mentally on your ability to think quickly and place your characters in positions on the screen in order to trap ghosts and return them to the other world.
This game will require much of your time when it comes to reading as we stated earlier, so expect to be seeing a lot of dialogue between you and other important characters you’ll encounter throughout the story. There’s certainly a lot of battling ghosts shortly after so don’t be thrown off by the text since it actually does come in handy in some moments. Brand new story elements have been added to provide a richer experience for those who enjoyed the original, along with all new Daybreak Scenarios which is sure to keep you busy for some time.
The story begins as you’re a new transfer student into Kurenai Academy, which as of late has been notorious for a lot of mysterious paranormal events taking place on school grounds. On your first day of entering, you’re greeted by Sayuri who turns out to be the very uptight and prissy class president, who takes you on a tour around the school. As she shows you around the various floors, she saves one in particular for last, which turns out to be where someone died. The two of you run into another student named Masamune Shiga, who you actually spoke to prior in your classroom. You’re then attacked by an evil ghost who you now must exorcise. Chizuru, the CEO of the Gatekeepers, is impressed with your quick work and invites you to join this group of ghost hunters. From there your adventure begins as you must uncover clues behind why these ghosts exist and work with various clients across Tokyo to exorcise ghosts for them.
To be very blunt, there wasn’t any tutorial available which made the game feel very foreign in many aspects, especially when coming into the game for the first time. We were unsure of what the senses meant and what their actual purpose was, so it felt like trial and error more than a deep understanding. This made playing through the game a little bit more cumbersome because we had to use our own discernment when in conversation with other characters. The strategic elements of the game are definitely interesting which we’ll point out in just a moment, but the fact that we had to guess our way through most of it really took a lot of energy out of it. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the gameplay features that were interesting and touch on their pros and cons along the way.
Various improvements were made to the gameplay which provided a more engaging experience, and one of these improvements was briefing. In this setting, you can choose from a selection of suggested layouts, which can aid you in your hunting process as you progress through the story. It kind of acts like a tutorial in a way, but it’s not an actual breakdown of the system itself which was unfortunate. This briefing offered us plenty of options to choose from and to be honest, everything was laid out in an organized manner for us to manage everything efficiently. If we needed our purifying salt or sacred wine, we could easily find it and deal with our enemies with ease. There wasn’t much else provided and for that reason, it really took away a lot of hype for the upcoming battles, and nothing was really explained to ensure that our battles would go smoothly.
This was one cool feature that we liked which allows the player to use specific items to do what’s called ‘Area Trapping’, which prevents your enemy from advancing and allows you to strategically place your characters around it and defeat it without much concern. Some items such as Purifying Salt allow you to control a wide area of the board which increases your chances of hitting your enemy and dealing damage when necessary. This was something we felt was very fun because there were various ways with which you could eliminate the enemy, which provided a stimulating experience. As you grow more accustomed to how trapping works, the methods of approach start to evolve and you start to feel more in control when tougher opponents start to unveil themselves.
We would’ve liked if this feature had a little more explanation for new players to the game because Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak really does require a lot of tactical thinking, and so you wouldn’t want to spend most of your brain power trying to wrap your head around how this function actually works. Other things such as the contingency fee weren’t explained thoroughly, and while we could certainly understand it other players might not truly see eye to eye with everything.
Using Multiple Actions / Layout / Etc.
Before we crack down on the multiple actions we thought it would be better to start off with the layout, since this is what truly plays a major role in playing altogether. When you encountered your first battle towards the early stage of the game, you were introduced to the layout which looks like a sudoku board with your characters, boxes, and your enemy’s location spread throughout. You also had different color health bars which, to be honest, we weren’t too sure what purpose they had, but then we eventually were able to figure things out. The long yellow bar is your HP, while the big number is your AP or attack points. This was all totally a blur for us because none of it was actually explained in a tutorial like fashion, so we had to just pay close attention to what was going on as we performed certain actions.
Your attack points can be used to perform multiple actions using your skills which are all tied to specific points so that you know just how much you’re spending at a time. What was nice was that you could use up all of your AP in one turn if you had enough, and score big damage against the enemy which felt rewarding. Overall the ability to use various actions during battle, while being able to flank ghosts from the side or behind for massive damage was satisfying, but we wished that the layout had more dimension and not just a flat and bland board. Of course, there are limitations with creating a more free-flowing interface, but considering how powerful the Vita actually is there really shouldn’t be an excuse as to why boundaries couldn’t be tested.
One other interesting was the ‘Ghost List’ which essentially is like the “Pokedex” of ghosts that you encounter throughout the game, and you add them to your underground website. It was nice to go back and research a little on the ghosts we encountered because it allowed us to devise better strategies for what was to come next. The interface was very clean and you had some cool animations for each ghost once you highlighted them.
Glossary / Extras
We’re not sure why they made us wait to access the glossary until further into the game, because it really helped out a ton especially when it came to certain terms we weren’t sure of for example what the purpose behind the contingency fee or what fringe science was, and the purpose for salt in battle. This should’ve been granted to us immediately in a glossary settings option, or again, just as a tutorial as you played through the game. Having to wait for everything to be explained after going through the entire ordeal of playing without much knowledge was a little disheartening, simply because the game has some merit and fun factor but it truly sucked a lot of that out of us.
Another extra feature for fans of the game is the voice album, where you can listen to your favorite characters voice actor/actresses in your free time. If you’ve played the original Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, you’ll actually receive a bonus charm that you can hang in your company van. While the little trinket was a nice little reward, perhaps providing some added weapons or extra damage would’ve really sold us more.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is not going to be for everyone because it’s a game that’s essentially an update of the original, and aside from that it’s really not much else. One of the major gripes that we’ve mentioned quite frequently is the severe lacking of a real tutorial mode for anyone that is new to the series and just picked it up as something to pass the time. We weren’t too fond of having to sift our way through various options to try and come up with decisive methods when perhaps a visual representation could’ve been implemented to create a more uniform approach.
The game does introduce you to the basic formula of the system, but it doesn’t really break everything down in a way that’s sufficient. Be that as it may, the gameplay itself is still the major selling point because it’s really fun trying to come up with different ways to exorcise the ghosts, with the limited time that you’re given. We did thoroughly enjoy the dialogue between characters because of the witty and sarcastic remarks, so that was most definitely an added bonus.
Using various items to throw off and trap your enemy were cool, and teaming up with your other comrades made for a fulfilling experience. On that note of teaming up with other comrades, what would’ve really made this game more thrilling was adding an online feature so that other exorcists could band together to fight these crazy ghosts. It felt somewhat scripted in the single player aspect because you really only had your AI to assist you, instead of teaming with your friends to create a little more variety.
Overall, we felt that the game, despite its drawbacks, has replay value because you can always find new and interesting ways to deal with the ghosts, and track your progress along the way with the ghost list. The artwork was splendid, along with the soundtrack which is to be expected since Arc System Works always create some very rockin’ material for their games.
Good replay value for those who want to come back for more ghost hunting.
Solid length of gameplay.
Great soundtrack and visuals.
Deep strategic elements implemented.
No tutorial to introduce new players to the game.
Felt very scripted after some time.
No online feature to create a more robust experience.
Battle interface felt flat.
Options menu felt extremely dated and lacked severely.
More details pertaining to the senses options would’ve been more useful.
Honey's Final Verdict:
While Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs suffered from a lot of drawbacks, the game still has something to offer for fans of the series and those who fancy strategic gameplay elements, tied with some visual novel experiences. The game felt a little longer due to having to figure things out on the fly, but perhaps if that’s something you don’t mind then it shouldn’t be a major setback. We hope that you found this review to be insightful and provided you with enough information to make your decision easier. If you’d like to see more game reviews from us, be sure to let us know what games you’d like us to review in the comments below!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!