Voila: The Die Hard Mission. Not that it’s called that. I can’t remember what it’s called, but anyway, like a lot of Tokyo 42’s missions – and that is not a criticism – this one sees you infiltrating a skyscraper to get the guy at the top. The skyscraper is called the Nakatomi building, and that’s enough of a cue for how to approach things. You’re massively outmatched, of course. Goons on every floor. So as you advance, you have to be stealthy, which in Tokyo 42, if not in Die Hard, means using the katana: sneaking up behind people and slicing them before they know you’re there. But at the top of the building – Tokyo 42 does not do interiors very frequently, so every structure in the game is covered with exterior walkways you navigate to move up and down – katanas won’t really cut it anymore. You have to ride the penthouse elevator right into an ambush.
So what would McClane do? He would have options here: save points are common to encourage experimentation, and there’s a loaded weapon wheel to pick from, although nothing in amongst the sniper rifles and rocket launchers will come as much of a surprise. Despite all this, it is a wrench to be forced from the shadows. Tokyo 42’s wider design suggests a game built around freewheeling open-world adventure. It’s at its best, though, when it settles into a different groove: stealth and precision. Stealth and precision, and the occasional moment where you have to leap into the unknown.
Tokyo 42 is a dreamlike action game. You move across bright, toytown landscapes with a wonderfully dreamy gait, executing dreamy, easy to maneuver jumps from one building to another, and occasionally exchanging volleys of dreamy, easy to navigate gunfire – if such a thing is possible – when everything goes wrong. Crucially, this dreaminess doesn’t feel like a problem. It’s not one of those games where everything feels floaty and lacking in impact. Rather, it’s the old Jack Reacher chestnut: you write the slow things fast and the fast things slow. In Tokyo 42, the action would normally be too fast to make sense of. Rather than opting for bullet-time, the developer drops a few Valium and the whole thing finds its own pace. Slowed, for sure, but wonderfully precise with it.