Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist’s first video game is here and, well, it tries. There are elements where it gets the concept of the show and its characters right. It has the distinct Ghoul, Investigator, and Quinx classes, which all function in their own way and rely on the skills seen in the original series. Ghouls have kagunes they use to attack. Investigators have Quinques they can use. Quinxes use both. Things are appropriately bloody and violent, as you would expect from a game where ghouls and humans are at war. There’s an elaborate collection of lore to help you understand terminology. But, in many ways, it feels like a lot of what matters and makes the series special has been left out.
Take the campaign, for example. It hops around, with brief static images accompanied by text and describing some especially notable moments. For example, we see Ken Kaneki turned into a Ghoul. But then, Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist jumps to when he was being tortured by Aogiri Tree’s Yamori. The first mission involves his escape from the facility and decision to join. We then see the organization building up and the rescuing of characters like Naki. But, it is all presented in a Cliff Notes manner. If you’re unfamiliar with the source material, the game doesn’t give you a chance to catch up.
The way Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist handles custom characters illustrates this as well. The character creator is incredibly limited, with only a handful of hairstyles, outfits, and weapons available at the start. Even if you get to unlocking, there isn’t much diversity or detail there. You choose one of the three classes. You select a gender. You pick a voice, hairstyle, mask (none are immediately available), outfit, and initial weapons. You don’t even have existing characters available immediately in Subsistence, the multiplayer mode. You have to unlock them. As for Recollections, while you can eventually see the chosen character facing a familiar face as a boss, prior to that you’ll face an assortment of generic original characters with no personality.
The unlocking is another issue. If you want recognizable characters for the multiplayer, you need to play through the Recollections campaign. If you want extra looks or weapons, you have to go through the game alone. While it makes sense to lock up the PVP until you play through the campaign’s tutorial mission that introduces Kaneki and gameplay elements, Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist is billed and promoted as a 4v4 multiplayer game. It doesn’t feel right to have that direction, but then keep so much of the game gated off unless you are willing to play through it alone.
This sparseness shows in Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist’s gameplay as well. Its campaigns are very repetitive, with the same sorts of enemies constantly appearing. If you aren’t facing a recognizable boss or character, button mashing will carry you through. The level design does call to mind the anime and manga, but things are all very bland and uninteresting. Fighting bosses and other actual humans can be fun, but matches are filled with AI characters making up for a lack of actual players. There’s no jump button, which means getting on top of obstacles and platforms means trying to find the right spot and holding a trigger to climb up. When people start using special abilities in close quarters, the camera can’t keep up and it just looks sloppy.
Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist feels like it has the gist of what Tokyo Ghoul is. The character classes feel distinct and fighting other actual humans can be fun. But the storyline is rather barebones, custom characters aren’t appealing to build, and there are times when it can feel hollow.
Tokyo Ghoul:re Call to Exist is available for the PlayStation 4 and PC.