Sui Ishida's Tokyo Ghoul was one of the standout action anime and manga franchises of the decade, so it's a surprise to see it get its first console game effort released now that the series has ended its run. On the other hand, this means there's an entire series of moments to draw inspiration from for any title. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, however, as this also means that no matter what any game does, it's not going to feel as complete of an experience as something encompassing an entire series should, which is the main concern with Tokyo Ghoul: re: Call to Exist. While it's a solid experience that fans of the series and newcomers are sure to enjoy while it lasts, it casts such a wide net that a few noticeable flaws seep through the gaps. Flaws which pile up and get more egregious as the experience goes on.
Tokyo Ghoul:re: Call to Exist is a third-person action game where you can play as a ghoul, Quinx, or Dove, and each three of the player types has a different set of weapons, attacks, or abilities. Despite each of the differences, each type is the same at the root with a light attack, a wide range attack, a special, and projectile. But each type has their advantages, with Ghouls being able to finish off enemies for more health, Doves being able to block attacks with a shield and can carry grenades, and Quinx can have moves from a little of both.
The actual gameplay sees Kaneki (or any one of the series' characters) clearing out various enemies in an area before moving on to the next area of a level. Getting passed each stage will eventually bring you to the boss of each level, and beating the boss clears it. The story mode puts a story filter over these missions, and comprise of levels that adapt big moments in the anime series. Unfortunately, it's lacking in any real drawing power for those unfamiliar with the series already as it's just a lot of bullet points from the anime adaptation -- including the divisive and non-canonical Season 2. There just isn't enough context given for most of the story beats.
But where it lacks in flourishes in the presentation, Call to Exist makes up for with its solid gameplay style. Action is frantic, and it's satisfying to clear out huge rooms of enemies. Unfortunately, the title's definition of "difficulty" is just to swarm you with more enemies so the only real challenge is keeping your eye on the health bar as various enemies chip away at you during attacks, but that's not as much of a downside as you would expect, as playing often leads to a nice state of zen.
Outside of story mode, there are a few extra modes that include unlockable harder missions where you have to defeat waves of increasingly tougher enemies and bosses. You can create your own characters, and upgrade them with various materials, or play through them with any of the unlocked series canon characters you've unlocked through play. There's an online multiplayer component that works well here, but finding others to play with is admittedly going to be a challenge.
While the overall presentation is limited with uninspired level visuals and color — which is expected from this series — there's just no argument of how much fun it is to take down Ghouls. Clearing out rooms and fighting off waves just feels satisfying, and there's plenty more of that kind of satisfaction with unlockable characters and levels. It's going to be fun even to those unfamiliar with the source material, but those hoping to see and experience more from Tokyo Ghoul itself might find it lacking.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Tokyo Ghoul:re: Call to Exist is now available on PlayStation 4 and PC. This review is based off a code provided by the publisher.