I Love That Tango Gameworks Never Makes The Same Game Twice
Tango Gameworks is a weird developer, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. I am one of the few who will go to bat for The Evil Within in spite of its mediocrity. Shinji Mikami set out to create a modern survival horror game that not only emulated classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but also carved its own campy, irreverent path forward. It still runs like ass on consoles and is filled with mechanics that are either too obtuse or imprecise, yet there sits a sincerity at the centre of its creative vision that I can’t help but admire. It has great vibes.
Everything this studio has put out does, whether it be the Lynchian atmosphere of The Evil Within 2 and its parallel universe baths filled with cum, or the startlingly realistic and equally stylish neon-drenched streets found in Ghostwire: Tokyo. Hi-Fi Rush followed in such ghastly footsteps, a game that doesn’t have a scary bone in its body. Tango decided to swap out bloody violence and mythical yokai for a wholesome himbo twink with a robot arm and a love for rhythm. Nobody could have expected any of these games, and they’re all wonderful.
None of them are masterpieces. If anything, they each have fairly noticeable flaws and shortcomings that stronger design or more nuanced feedback could have helped with. I would much rather see games like this succeed, with generous budgets and small issues, instead of the same prestige blockbusters over and over, with examples the latter now being few and far between. The Evil Within was a spiritual successor to genre greats on the surface, but digging past the first few chapters unveiled an existential journey through multiple different universes and perspectives with a campy cheese that riffed on the likes of Twin Peaks and similar genre fiction perfectly. It is a wild, bloody, and unpredictable gem of a game that its sequel wasn’t afraid to reinvent while keeping the same hallmarks.
Swapping oodles of bloody violence for cosmic horror was a bold move for a new franchise, yet The Evil Within 2 ran with it and produced one of the finest sequels in years that not nearly enough people played. Its characters and narrative were mostly nonsense, although the game knew that, hamming it up in just the right places, so we couldn’t help but feel invested. Its open world was dense yet sprawling, concentrated in its intentions without feeling bloated. The same can be said for Ghostwire, which despite its often generic objectives, seemed to understand what makes a fictional place so compelling to explore.
Ghostwire ran out of steam towards the end, and I never cared for its characters, but that didn’t matter when the abandoned streets had their own stories to tell. You can lose hours merely rescuing wayward spirits and banishing evil ghosts, finding valuable time to relax while pilfering through lively storefronts and abandoned apartments. Tango is yet to nail down a consistent identity as a studio, and thus each new project is free from the unfair expectations that so many others fall victim to. Hi-Fi Rush only further cements this.
I’ve only played the first hour, and on the surface it feels like Tango Gameworks has gone from a first-person supernatural shooter to a third-person character action rhythm game with bright, anime-esque visuals. That isn’t just a small jump, it’s a monolithic leap, and one none of us could have expected. Studios are so often defined by expectations and obvious genres they excel in, but here we have a Japanese development house willing to take risks and try new things even if they end up short of the mark.
Games are a medium where anything can be done with the right resources and imagination, and we should be celebrating gems like this or we’ll allow them to fade into obscurity.
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