Daybreak: Special Gigs is an expanded port of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters for PS3, PS4, and Vita back in 2015. As a visual novel style game with somewhat luck driven turn-based combat, this particular version includes a new Daybreak story scenario and some improvements all around to tweak this game into the definitive edition of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters. So is Daybreak: Special Gigs a ghastly experience, or is it so good, it’s scary? Let’s find out.
Daybreak: Special Gigs opens with you controlling a new transfer student at Kurenai Academy, and shortly thereafter you encounter a drop dead gorgeous girl another student, and an instructor who immediately wrap you up in impromptu ghost hunting. You obviously aren’t spooked by such a haunting affair, and join the school magazine club which doubles as the front for an entire ghostbusting organization called the Gate Keepers.
Puns aside, the game, outside of combat, plays just like how you would expect a visual novel to play: You press a button to progress dialogue and are often offered choices on how to proceed. The choices are a little obfuscated, especially if it’s your first time playing the game, as you can choose how your character responds to something via two icon-covered wheels. These wheels have five options on each, the first being things like a handshake symbol, a heart icon, etc., while the second features eyes, hand, nose, and the like. No explanation is given for what each icon means though you would think it’s easy enough to decipher.
Without being explained what the icons mean, you may try to kiss a character during an important moment and lower their affection for you, creepily sniff them, or something more… normal, as one option may have you voice your opinion in one dialogue section but may have you “taste” a heroine in another. Unfortunately, the outcome of whichever icon option you pick is determined entirely upon very thin context.
For example, you may choose the hand icon to have your character lovingly reach out his hand to touch a character that’s having a hard time, but it may result in you slapping the person with whom you’re speaking even though that same option worked the way you wanted in a prior conversation. It normally wouldn’t be a big deal, except that these options usually determine party member affection levels which is a metric that directly correlates to whether or not you can permanently recruit them once the chapter is finished.
The story is precisely what you would expect from a game featuring so many anime overtones: The story is presented in an episodic structure with openings and ending sequences for each chapter. The story unfolds very much like a, “Monster of the Week” style show, with varying focus on settings as you unravel the mysteries surrounding the troublesome specter before you bury it for good. Players can even recruit a variety of characters assuming you made proper choices throughout the chapter– usually by not sniffing them like a creeper or randomly biting them (I would strongly recommend using a guide, as it can be quite nebulous what a option may result in, sometimes). Each character you recruit also has their own Daybreak chapter, as well, so permanently missing a recruit-able character can lock you out of more than just their abilities.
The visual novel sections of the game are still quite well done, replete with bright, colorful visuals, expertly drawn character portraits, and surprisingly good music for this type of game. There is some limited animation to the character artwork which breathes a decent amount life into a game that constantly deals with the dead. Players will get to enjoy a soundtrack composed of rock and punk elements as you dig up the circumstances surrounding various ghosts before you’re inevitably forced to exorcise them in battle.
Combat is also similarly obfuscated and also a bit reliant upon luck. Players are presented with a chessboard-like surface where you move your characters in pursuit of an invisible ghost. Enemies and allied characters move simultaneously, with your party attempting to strike the area in which a ghost will move, while the ghosts try to run away or bump into your characters to attack them (which cancels the attacked party member’s action). Even though players have access to barriers of salt to block off ghostly escapes or detection devices that inform the player of enemy locations when they are spirited away, the combat system is essentially a game of Battleship with J-Rock playing in the background. Forecasting where enemies will move, if they’ll teleport, etc., is extremely important to even have a ghost of a chance in Daybreak: Special Gigs.
Overall, Daybreak: Special Gigs is a very competent visual novel game. The production values are excellent for a game in its genre as both the music and aesthetic design is on point with the anime theme. The game does fall short in a couple of areas, with nebulous dialogue options via an icon-oriented menu, and combat that is essentially Battleship with a ghastly side of guesswork. Those who are willing to use guides may be more forgiving of the dialogue options, and those who have patience or just enjoy everything visual novels have to offer may better appreciate the combat. Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is an interesting game with some grave miscalculations in execution, and would be recommended if you’re a fan of visual novels or perhaps find it on sale.