Ghost of Tsushima
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action, Adventure, Stealth
Platform: PlayStation 4
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 17/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Set on the small island of Tsushima just off the coast of mainland Japan in 1274, the game starts with the army of Tsushima charging the beaches to battle the 30,000 strong Mongolian invaders that have come to conquer their land. As you may have guessed this does not go to plan as the army of Tsushima is defeated with ease, and the Japanese ruler Lord Shimura is captured by Khotun Khan, a successful general and descendent of the legendary Genghis Khan.
You play as Jin Sakai, the nephew of Lord Shimura and one of the few survivors from the battle with the Mongols who has been nursed back to health by a young woman by the name of Yuna. Once Jin awakens and is back to full strength, he sets out on a quest for revenge and to rescue his uncle from the castle that Khotun Khan has taken up residence in. The game is set over three acts with each act unlocking a new area of the large and beautiful island each having their own unique scenery and feel along with a multitude of side missions and collectables to discover.
Looks and Sounds
SuckerPunch have done a fantastic job of capturing the beautiful yet harrowing war-torn Tsushima, from large open fields filled with vibrant cherry blossom trees to burning villages and tranquil waterfalls. As you progress north through the three different parts of the island, the landscape continues to change with what starts as fields of pampas grass soon change to thick bamboo forests and then to snowy mountain peaks.
One of the most anticipated options for Ghost of Tsushima was the introduction of a mode called Kurosiwo, which on paper is essentially a visual filter which turns the bright and vibrant world into a black and white, old school samurai movie, changing both the looks and sounds of the game. The mode itself is named after a famous Japanese director who used the same style for his movies from the early 1940’s right through to the 1960s. I did enjoy using this mode; however, I was itching to change back as one of the game’s biggest strengths is how vibrant and colourful the world is.
The photo mode that they have included is a wonderful addition and is packed with different features so that players can capture any moment precisely the way they want. I don’t use photo modes in games, but I have done this time around as the world is just too beautiful not to. I have seen in various tweets that some players have taken thousands of photos and if that doesn’t say something about the way this game looks or the versatility of the photo mode, I don’t know what will.
Ghost of Tsushima has a fantastic soundtrack when you are exploring the world on horseback or engaged in intense combat. However, if like myself, you want to play in Japanese, the characters lips aren’t in sync with what’s being said, which I feel of takes away from the overall experience. I find it odd that this is the case as the game is published by Sony, which of course is a Japanese company.
Gameplay and Replayability
One of the great things about Ghost of Tsushima is that you can tailor your experience to your preferred playstyle, whether that means wearing particular armour to boost specific stats or using the different skill trees to increase the strength and effectiveness of your Ghost weapons or learning more powerful attacks and combos. I loved that I was able to swap between silently assassinating a camp full of enemies or just charging head-on into a Mongol camp to wreak havoc with my trusty katana.
Combat is the strongest element and gives the player a real sense of power and at times makes you feel like a ‘superhero samurai’ as you slice and dice your way through waves of Mongol warriors.
There are four different fighting stances to switch between depending on what type of enemies you are facing.
Stone – Sword Enemies
Water – Shield Enemies
Wind – Spear Enemies
Moon – Brute Enemies (Much larger and deadlier than other enemy types.)
From the get-go the combat feels fluid and stylish and once you get the basics down its easy to switch between the different stances on the fly, each strike with your Katana feels deadly and deliberate and every enemy attack if not blocked or parried is lethal and can cut you down in seconds.
Alongside the excellent sword fighting, there are an array of ghost weapons at Jin’s disposal to help you, from the small but lethal Kunai to the smoke bombs that will help you escape in a hurry. I always felt prepared and ready for whatever the game wanted to throw at me. There is something oddly satisfying about defeating a camp full of Mongols and watching Jin flick his wrist to remove the blood on his katana before placing it back in its scabbard. As you progress through the game, you will collect several different resources that can be used to upgrade and improve your armour and weapons.
There are several things to do across Tsushima, and most of my 50+ hours were spent searching every nook and cranny for side missions and trying to demist the entire island. Uncovering new places of interest is made simple in the shape of a little yellow bird that flies over your head and leads you to the location when you are nearby. The thing is that every undiscovered location I came across could be anything, from hidden shrines which unlocked new charms to boost certain stats, hot springs that I could bath in to increase my maximum health or even Mongol camps that once cleared demisted that specific section of the map showing more undiscovered locations to go and explore.
If I had a penny for every time I was on the way to a mission and was suddenly distracted and drawn down a different path by the little bird in the hope I would find one of the many cosmetic items littered across the island; I would be a very rich man. Although the cosmetic items are just for show, it really allows you to customise Jin, whether that’s with a worn and beaten up farmers hat or new colourful sword kit to give your Katana a shiny new look.
Even once the credits had rolled, I still wanted to go back and explore areas of the map that I had yet to discover and explore. I played through most of the game on the Lethal difficulty that was added post-launch which made your and the enemies attack stronger, in essence. This new harder difficulty proved to be the perfect balance between easy and punishingly hard. I hope that they add a new game + feature in future updates as I would love to go back and play in the Kurosiwo mode with all my skills and upgraded equipment to see how different the game looks and sounds.
SuckerPunch has created a stunning and vast open-world that had me stopping what felt like every two minutes to take advantage of the feature-packed photo mode and appreciate the sheer beauty of Tsushima.
My time with Ghost of Tsushima has been nothing short of amazing. It is a great final swansong for Sony first-party exclusives, in a generation where we have got to experience some of the greatest single-player experiences that the gaming industry has ever seen! I would quite happily recommend this one to any gamer that enjoys open-world games and would encourage anyone that doesn’t to at least give it a try.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Ghost of Tsushima from the PlayStation Store on the following link, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP9000-CUSA13323_00-GHOSTSHIP0000000