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Ghost Of Tsushima

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 28 - 2020

Being a ghost with an incredibly sharp sword.

 
Sony’s PS4 exclusive games always shine bright and bring about a large amount of hype. The latest title to appear exclusively on the PS4, even as we rush headlong into the next generation of consoles, is Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima. This open-world Samurai adventure set in the 13th century really does beg the question of why Ubisoft didn’t jump on the setting for their Assassin’s Creed series. Given how immersive Sucker Punch have made the setting, Ubisoft may have missed a trick there. Still, Ubisoft’s loss is our gain as players step into the boots of Jin Sakai, a Samurai who is coming to realise that acting honourably and within the code of the Samurai may not be enough to save his land.

 


 
Ghost of Tsushima is set on the island of Tsushima, which early in the game is the destination for a rather brutal Mongol invasion. The Mongol leader, Khotun Khan, has studied the ways of the Samurai and so knows exactly how to take advantage of their sense of honour to achieve victory. Jin Sakai is one of very few survivors from the initial assault, and begins by simply wanting to rescue his uncle, before moving on to save his entire land. This is where Jin’s internal conflict comes in to play. As the Mongols fight dirty to overcome the honourable Samurai, Jin will also have to cast aside his honourable ways in order to succeed. This is amply proven to Jin early on when, following the way of the Samurai, he marches up and challenges Khotun Khan, only to be soundly defeated and left lucky to still be alive. From here, Jin realises that new tactics, along with some allies, may be the way to go.

 
The story for Ghost of Tsushima is nothing too different from what we have seen before, and Jin’s inner turmoil has little effect on how the game plays out, which seems like a missed opportunity. With that said though, there is a cinematic feel to the game that makes the story come across as far more than it actually is, and much of that comes from the absolutely stunning setting.

 


 
The player is given the freedom to explore the island of Tsushima as they see fit, and there is so much to see. Whether following a main story mission, enjoying one of the multiple side missions, or simply wandering around, there is always something beautiful to enjoy looking at. Watching the grass move in the wind, marvelling at shrines on a cliff side, or simply enjoying the view from a hill as the sun moves down in the sky, it is very easy to just stop and marvel at the beauty of this world. There are moments in the exploration where the world may feel devoid of life, or times when a previous battle casts ugliness on the beauty, but the level of detail marvels throughout.

 
Visuals have always been a highlight in Sony’s exclusives, and so it should come as no surprise that Ghost of Tsushima looks as good as it does. What may come as a surprise though is how the developers have approached the open world game formula. There is a lot here to recognise, such as markers on the map to indicate activities, but waypoints and a mini map is nowhere to be seen, forcing the player to navigate the world with their own senses, paying attention to things like visual gusts of wind or hints seen on the horizon. While it may take players long to find their way, it also gives rise to more chances of finding something new or interesting to look at or engage with.

 


 
Should they wish, the player is quite able to plough through the main story missions one after another to completion. However, doing so will not only make the game more difficult as Jin will inevitably miss out on improvements, but also players will that way miss out on all of the additional little stories to be found in the game. As is common in open world games, there is a lot to do beyond the main story, and players will find a large variety of side missions to participate in. From the stories that involve Jin’s allies, which are always interesting, to requests from random peasants, to duels with other Samurai, there is always something new to do. Very few of these missions feel like busywork to bulk out the game, which is quite unusual. Then there are the more explorative activities, such as following a fox to find a statue and earn extra charm slots, or climbing up to a shrine to get one of those charms, or finding a hot spring for a small health increase. There are even special places for the player to just sit and reflect, composing Haikus and earning a new headband.

 
No matter what the player ends up doing though, they will inevitably have to fight enemies. There is a strong stealth element in Ghost of Tsushima and the player is just as capable of sneaking around in the shadows, avoiding being seen and maybe slitting a few throats along the way, as they are running headlong into battle. The stealth mechanics are perfectly serviceable, if nothing new. The face to face combat is much more involved, at least it becomes that as the player progresses. To begin with, Jin is somewhat underpowered and lacking in much beyond a light and heavy attack. However, once the player has made their way through the game, upgraded their equipment, learned some new abilities and unlocked some new stances, which allow the player to deal with different types of enemy, the combat really becomes exciting. While button mashing will get the player so far, the battles in the game are better when played defensively, especially when the games’ one on one battles are taking place. For these, the player needs to avoid, dodge, parry and wait for the opening. The game never becomes too complex with its different fighting options, and despite battles often being more considered, it is quite easy to feel like the all-powerful Samurai warrior, which I think is what most players will be looking for.

 


 
Ghost of Tsushima is an open world adventure that feels very familiar in its layout. Despite this familiarity, there is very little that the game does wrong, and so much that is done better than others. The visuals and level of detail are impressive, and the game is packed with things to do which, while not necessarily new, are always enjoyable. The stealth is a little stale, and forced stealth sections can be frustrating, but the combat feels powerful and thoughtful. Anyone looking to fulfil their Samurai fantasy in an open world will find Ghost of Tsushima offering hours of honourable, or not so honourable, enjoyment.

 

 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 



 

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