When Sony announced Ghost of Tsushima at Paris Games Week in 2017, I was intrigued. We did not get much information at the time, but I have long wanted a good samurai game.
I always thought a samurai game would have been a good fit for the Assassin’s Creed series but it never came to fruition. Since the game was so far away from release, I lost interest and stopped tracking its progress. It wasn’t until the Sony State of Play that happened in May where that interest was reignited. I have to be honest. I don’t care for the games Sucker Punch as produced. I’m not a fan of Infamous and I’m not a fan of Sly Cooper. I began Ghost of Tsushima with cautious optimism. I’m happy to tell you, this game is incredible. Almost every aspect of this game is top notch and even the gripes are minimal.
The game is set on Tsushima Island in the 13th century. You play a samurai named Jin Sakai. The game begins with you trying to free your uncle, Lord Shimura from the game’s antagonist, Khotun Khan of the Mongol army. The game has you completing main story quests and side quests. It is important to note, while the side quests don’t have a major impact on the story, please do not skip them. They each are unique and provide some fun gameplay and character interaction. Not to mention, they often give you a chance to observe and kill Mongol leaders, which is how you earn new fighting styles.
This game does borrow many elements from the Assassin’s Creed series, especially the newest entries in the series. The problem here is, and I mean no disrespect to Ubisoft, this game has character and it keeps me wanting more. With the recent Assassin’s Creed games, I’ve lost interest and had no desire to keep playing. With Ghost of Tsushima, I can’t put my controller down. One thing that does feel different is the combat. I feel like I have complete control over Jin when he enters combat and the animations are fluid.
Sure, there are the occasional clipping issues where I may phase through an enemy or an object, but I can overlook that. Another thing I love is how to navigate to your next location. The game does not feature a mini-map or any waypoints of where you need to go. Instead, you mark a location on the main map, and then swipe up on the Playstation 4 controller’s touchpad. The wind will blow and take the leaves with it, showing you where you need to go.
This game is also deep. The character skill trees are not just tied to skill points, but your progression by completing certain tasks. See a golden bird? Follow it. Find a fox running near you? Follow it! Completing tasks like writing haikus, bamboo sword practice, and more will help you make Jin a fierce opponent when entering combat. With the game’s skill tree, you can level up your stances, different attacks, weapons, and more. It is enough to keep you playing for hours.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet are the graphics and sound design. Graphics are not everything to me but this game is gorgeous. Are the character models as good as The Last of Us Part II? No, but the scenery and environment where you spend your time is gorgeous. Each area is full of lush green grass or trees. White flowers or petals. Golden leaves that blow with the wind that takes you to your next location. This game is stunning and it is a world I can get lost in for hours. The audio is fantastic too. The clashing of the swords, the grunts from taking a fatal blow, and the great voice acting add to the immersion.
The game also features a Kurosawa mode as an homage to the late filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. With this feature enabled, the game is transformed. The bright and vibrant colors are gone and replaced with gritty black and white. The sound is adjusted to be low quality and mono and the characters speak Japanese instead of English. It feels like you’re in one of Kurosawa’s old films. While this is a very nice feature and I’ve taken many clips and photos in this mode, for me, it was not practical to play the entire game this way, especially with some quests requiring you to find locations based on the color of their flowers or trees.
Sony has ended this generation of gaming strong with two incredible releases just a month apart. Ghost of Tsushima adds to the impressive list of exclusive games the PS4 saw and it is one you should not miss