The indie game Tokyo 42 is hard not to recommend but at the same time easy to stay away from. On one hand, it boasts great concepts that are original or refined by other games. On the other hand, the poorly designed gameplay mechanics cloud the great concepts that it has and makes the game extremely frustrating.
As far as graphics are concerned, there is a lot to be admired. The neon-encrusted futuristic Tokyo is just plain beautiful. Everything in Tokyo 42 is a brightly-colored soma trip; it is simply awesome.
The sharp shapes from the buildings and the people that inhabit the environment are pleasing to look at. Character models of the crowds are unique and are often not repeated. It is fun exploring all the secrets that the city has, from the collectibles to the gun skins you can find.
Buildings are also designed to be traversed in different ways to get to objectives, which makes the game feel a lot more dynamic. You also don't have to approach your enemies in a single way, meaning that there are various options to take them out, much like the Hitman franchise.
The sound effects of the game are very cathartic. Every assassination is satisfying as well as other kills. The music of the game is quite good, consisting of techno and "Cowboy Bebop-esque" tracks that sets up the mood for the game.
There are also plenty of gameplay mechanics that the game has such as doing mundane tasks for mission givers, other assassins trying to kill you, or solving puzzles throughout the world. All of these things can be found in Tokyo 42 and they all work well.
Because of all these different mechanics, the game feels more dynamic. Nothing in the game feels repetitive, except for the assassinations. Even the assassination missions that can be a bit redundant can be approached a multitude of ways.
With all of these different mechanics and great presentation mashed into one game, one would think that Tokyo 42 is a home run but there are many frustrating flaws.
For one, the isometric aiming mechanic has a z-axis for height and it auto-adjusts based on the environment. This makes some shots incredibly imprecise and can easily cause the player’s death.
Another problem is the camera perspective. The player is able to turn the camera on four different camera views, much like the indie platformer game Fez. This adds another dynamic to combat in which you have to turn the camera to find enemies who are hiding behind cover.
However, if the player is under pressure it becomes extremely tedious and disorienting. What makes it worse is that any building that blocks the player's view of their own character does not turn translucent, causing you to loose track of your character.
This may have been a deliberate choice by the game's developers but from the perspective of your character, it doesn't make any sense because the buildings don't obstruct your character's view in any way. This just felt like an unnecessary handicap. This "handicap" can lead to many frustrating deaths and may even ruin the game for some.
Overall, Tokyo 42 would have been an extremely strong game coming into mid 2017 with its great concepts. However, many frustrating quirks like the aiming and questionable game design choices can lead Tokyo 42 to the edge and fall off.
This game may have been awesome if the perspective was changed or the mechanics were better but for now, this game is only above average at best.