Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs is an odd duck. This is largely due to what the game is, but also in part because of the decision to localize the title so soon after the release of the first game. The game has definitely been changed, and largely for the better, but whether the changes are large enough to justify a purchase is a more difficult question to answer.
TTGH:DSG definitely has an amazing premise and aesthetic. With its gorgeous, painting-like character and monster sprites and detailed, almost photo-realistic locations it’s absolutely beautiful to play. Punk and rock music play in the background throughout the game and the trophy list is chock-full of references to classic rock songs and horror movies. The story, which entails a transfer student getting swept up in the day-to-day adventures of an occult magazine that periodically exorcises ghosts, takes heavy cues from anime. Each chapter in the game is like an anime episode and even goes so far as to include an opening and ending animation. Everything about these is fantastic and really elevated my enjoyment of the game.
Within each chapter the cast sets out to investigate a complaint of supernatural phenomena. While the ghosts in the chapters basically serve as a “monster of the week” that are soundly defeated, the setting in each varies greatly. In my time with the game I helped out a newly-single bachelor, a boy in the hospital, seniors in an assisted living home, and more. Each of these small vignettes were well-written and fairly poignant, with new character sprites as well as guest characters that were able to be permanently recruited if all the proper choices were made throughout the chapter.
Where Tokyo Twilight falls short, however, is in the conversation and battle systems. At certain points during the story, you will be presented with a wheel with various pictures on it. Hands shaking, a head with a question mark on it, a heart symbol. No explanation is given. After choosing one of the five options, another five are given, this time corresponding to the five sense. Eyes, hands, nose, etc. This means that when this wheel appears there are 25 possible outcomes of your choice. The catch is that the outcome changes depending on context. Selecting the same two choices in different parts of the game had me attempting to kiss, bite, or just stare blankly at the person with whom I was conversing. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the options were more consistent or if they didn’t effect character affection levels, and thus recruitment potential, but since they do it was nothing more than an annoyance.
The battle system in the original Tokyo Twilight received very mixed sentiments, and for good reason. It plays out sort of like a strategy game, with your characters moving like pieces on a minimalist game board in pursuit of an invisible ghost. The use of traps allows for a variety of functions, such as serving as a decoy, preventing a ghost from passing a certain location, and radar to allow you to see the ghost if it’s in the vicinity of the device. Before a battle, suggested traps are laid out for you to save time, but I found that eventually this was a huge waste of money as the traps were regularly poorly positioned or useless for the particular ghost I needed to hunt.
Actually fighting the ghost is the most difficult part of battles. Because your characters and the ghost move simultaneously, you see the places where the ghost might move during each turn. It is on the player to maneuver the characters so their attack ranges cover all these potential spaces so that a hit can be landed. All this must be done within a turn limit. This results in a battle system that looks pretty bland and can be quite frustrating as ghosts sometimes like to move to the one space your characters couldn’t manage to cover. Even a shakeup in the battle system in the later chapters couldn’t completely save the battle system.
Sidequests can be taken on in the form of additional exorcism requests. Winning the battles in these nets you additional experience points and money, both of which are essential if you want to be able to handle the story battles more efficiently. Battles also earn TP, which lets you train character skills that allow the setting of a higher number of traps, earning more EXP, or even just being luckier. For even more TP gain, you can play a mini-game that functions like a simpler version of the regular battles, just without trap setting.
The option also exists to leave the office and head to a couple of places. The first is the lab, where a member of the team can craft new items, traps, and equipment for you if you have the necessary ingredients and funds. The second is the general store. While the items in the store aren’t that great, their lottery system is. As you take on investigations and spend money while out, you earn lottery pulls. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place can nab you some nice items and equipment, but pulling a “special” slip gives a keychain which can be used before battle for handy special effects like a percentage increase in experience or money.
The changes from the first game are the reason for this game’s very existence. The biggest of these is the addition of the titular Daybreak chapters. These are side stories that reveal more information about the optionally recruited character from the chapter, as well as about the chapter’s main ghost. The stories themselves are nice additions, if you get the chance to see them. Failing to recruit an optional character will permanently lock you out of seeing their Daybreak chapter, so it might be best to play this one with a character recruitment guide just to be on the safe side. The most unfortunate parts of the Daybreak chapters is easily the crazy difficulty jumps. At times I would grind my characters up to handle the story chapter only to be met with a Daybreak chapter that had enemies 12 levels higher than what the story required.
Battles have been retooled a bit, giving out more EXP and TP as well as allowing for extra attacks if you haven’t spent all your AP for a particular character’s turn, and a bestiary has been added to view ghosts that have been defeated. A few typos have been fixed here and there, a few new animations have been added, and the ghost placement in a few chapters has been adjusted. If you did play the original version of Tokyo Twilight, having your save file on the Vita unlocks an extra keychain for battles that gives an extra 2 turns in battle.
All in all, it’s difficult to recommend TTGH:DSG to everybody. If you’ve played the original game the new content here might not be enough to get you to buy the game again, since it is largely the same and the new chapters don’t reveal that much. If you’ve never played the original, this is definitely the version to get but the difficulty curve might present a challenge to newcomers, not to mention it’d likely be much cheaper at this point just to grab the original game instead.