The latest in Bandai Namco’s anime inspired repertoire has arrived with Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist]. Fans of the anime will get the most enjoyment out of this title, and those that are jumping in for the first time probably won’t find much reason to stick around. It’s unfortunate, because Tokyo Ghoul in general is rife with opportunity for action adventure titles.
Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] follows Ken Kaneki. After a date with a girl he’s noticed a number of times before, he gets critically injured when she turns out to be a Ghoul. He gets saved by implanting organs from the Ghoul into his body, and things turn into a battle against himself, trying to resist the urge to eat humans while grappling with his own new ghoul-ish needs.
That’s the basic premise of Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist], as well as the anime. The game does a good job of taking players through the major events of the show, but there isn’t a lot that fans of the anime won’t know. It’s a missed opportunity to explore more of the lore of Tokyo Ghoul, but much like My Hero One’s Justice, we’re mostly here for the fan service.
Luckily, Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] has plenty of that. There are multiple playable characters here, so you can enjoy some time with your favorites from the show. Most of the main narrative follows Ken, but different character options exist within the side stories of Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist]. Some story stages can be replayed with different characters once they’ve been completed, but not all.
I think Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] took some cues from My Hero One’s Justice in terms of storytelling too, because the entirety of the story is told through still shots with text overlays. I don’t find this to be the most effective way of storytelling, because it doesn’t help invest players with the overall plot, but it is an efficient way of explaining major plot points quickly.
Again, this isn’t a title built to bring in new fans, but to cater to people who are already into the show. Which is why I’m okay with the way Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] told its narrative. If you haven’t gotten around to watching the show by now, you probably won’t. I just wish that for such a flashy show, there had been a little more effort to draw players in during cutscenes.
It doesn’t help that the level pacing is so poor during gameplay. Players will shuffle from room to room defeating enemies until they reach an object they have to interact with in order to continue. For the type of game Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] is, the stages were surprisingly long, which made the overall experience feel really weirdly paced.
The other thing that didn’t help the pacing was the overly recycled enemies. Players will defeat hundreds of the same enemies, with only a handful of variations between them. Luckily, there are some incredibly fun and flashy bosses and mini-bosses that players will encounter on their journey to help liven things up.
These are where Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] really shines, because it actually mixes up the formula and requires players to employ their full arsenal attacks, which is mapped to just a few buttons anyway. There’s something to be said though when I was wishing I could be teleported to the end of a stage to take on the boss of a stage. Environments look pretty rough here, with awful textures and bland environments. At least Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] manages to mix up the environments, offering players a reasonable amount of different areas to explore, even if they’re just there to beat down the same enemies.
While we’re on the subject of variation, each playable character has a unique fighting style. Some will employ more ranged attacks while others shine at the close-quarters encounters. So it’s reasonable to assume most players will tackle repeat stages with different characters because it can drastically change how those levels play out.
Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] also has plenty of playability going for it. There are ten or eleven main stages to the narrative, and each one has one or two side-stories to play through after it’s been completed. The side-stories will also tell stories from the anime, so more fan service for those looking for it. Additionally, there are an absolute ton of accomplishments to unlock, so completionists be aware, there’s a lot to do when going for 100%.
There’s a 4v4 and co-op mode here as well. I didn’t have anyone to play co-op with, and every time I searched for a multiplayer match I couldn’t find anyone, so I can’t attest to how good or bad those modes are.
Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] has some clunky controls, weird pacing issues, and doesn’t look great. Flashy battles, lots of fan-service, and succinct (if uninspired from the source material) storytelling help make up for some of its downfalls. Fans of the show should probably jump in, but the uninitiated should probably stay away from this one.
Tokyo Ghoul: re [Call to Exist] is available now for PlayStation 4 and PC. This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher. Purchases are available here.