Developer: SMAC Games
Publisher: Mode 7
Genre: Action, Isometric shooter
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Rating: T for Teen
Tokyo 42 is an isometric pixellated shooter that places the player in the shoes of a resident of a near-future cyberpunk Tokyo. Framed for murder, the main character must delve into the world of mercenaries and assassins, digging ever deeper to find the truth. Tokyo 42 is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Players take on contracts and missions to kill various NPCs. Guns, swords, blunt weapons, and explosives are used to fulfill these objectives. Pixellated bodies will fall over and persist for a short time, with no gore and minimal blood.
Many citizens of Tokyo 42 are users of a new drug that revives them after being killed. This is used to alleviate any player guilt in accidentally killing bystanders, but I never noticed any penalties for killing civilians.
NPCs that players interact with will occasionally use language, represented by non-numerical symbols usually associated with comic-style censoring ($&#^%). There is no voice acting, so all text is written.
There is a faction in the game that resides in a Nudist colony, but they are so small and pixellated that you cannot see anything.
I love a good isometric game—my game library is full of them. After playing Tokyo 42, I understand why many of them are turn-based. Tokyo 42 is more action-oriented, and takes place in real time. It does allow players to pause the action while switching weapons, but can otherwise feel frenetic if you get overwhelmed or surprised by a firefight. On easy, you have a shield that will protect you from three attacks with the following one killing you. Respawning happens quickly, but resets your objective, even if you had killed your target. So if you get killed before your turn in the mission you’re on, you have to do the whole thing over, which is frustrating.
Another big frustration for is was the camera. Players can rotate the camera in Tokyo 42 by pressing “Q” or “E” by default. Each button press rotates the camera 45 degrees, and while it’s helpful in calm moments, it can be disorienting during a firefight or if your view is suddenly blocked by a building. Usually, I try to keep the camera still during shootouts so that I could keep a clear line of sight on my targets with some success.
My last main frustration is jumping, which feels off for a couple of reasons. You don’t take fall damage, making it seem like you have Matrix-like abilities to tuck and roll, but you cannot jump over anything higher than a waist-high ledge. On occasion, you have to engage in some jump puzzle activities, but you have to make sure to land on your target since there aren’t any ledge-catching or vaulting mechanics. And despite being not great at jumping, I still often fell off stairs to my death because my character unwittingly bounded off-course. Irregularly, it just feels like my character is floating instead of running when going down.
In spite of these frustrations, Tokyo 42 is a well-realized game world. The blocks and pixels are well done and never confused or left me wondering what I was looking at; if players ever start to lose which on-screen spite is theirs, they can toss on a trenchcoat and channel Deckard or Neo if they’d like. I was even impressed when I was idle, because rival factions engaged in shootouts if they cross each other, ignoring the main character unless he or she decides to hop in. These roving factions are marked with a red dot above their heads to designate them as enemies; if you attack them and take all of them out, you’ll be rewarded with a small sum of cash. Players also have a nemesis to contend with, who will pop up at different times and try to kill you. All of these serve to make Tokyo 42 seem more like a living, breathing game world.
The missions themselves are fairly straightforward. “Go here and kill this person or these persons,” makes up 90% of what you’ll be doing. The other missions are some of the more entertaining ones, with the exception of the sniper missions. Trying to snipe in real time, with an isometric perspective, is as annoying as it sounds. Other missions see you secretly infiltrating a faction’s meeting for a rendezvous, or trying to bait one faction into fighting another without getting caught.
While it’s not full of original gameplay ideas, Tokyo 42 is a cool setting. I almost wish SMAC Games would have gone for a fixed or top-down perspective, like Heat Signature (which I often found myself comparing Tokyo 42 with). While nice to look at, it’s a bit too hectic without enough control available for the player in my opinion.
The Bottom Line
Entertaining in bits, but ultimately more frustrating at times, Tokyo 42 is a cool game setting that needs a fixed camera and some tighter controls.