As a fan of open world games, every new one I play I always have certain high expectations of it.
- The map
- Variety in game-play
We have been blessed with some incredible open world games in the last few years, Sucker Punch Productions may not have expected to but they certainly raised the bar for games of this genre and it was a fantastic way for the PS4 to close of this generation when it came to their exclusives.
Poetry in Motion
I need to jump into the graphics first, seriously this game is beautiful! It seems with each exclusive Sony somehow manages to up the levels of quality in the graphics of their games. What truly stands out in this game is the art, it is like looking at a painting. When running through the hills or riding on horseback, its like there is an invisible paintbrush painting as you’re going along.
I’ve always favoured art style over graphics, but this game excels in both
Some of the landmarks you come across the games, the views, the forests, the temples, the leaves, flowers. I could go on and on. The developers came up with an excellent idea of swiping the touch bar on the controller to bring a gust of wind to point you to your desired destination. This just adds to the mystique and vibrance of Tsushima. Forgive me for my ignorance, but I actually had to check if Tsushima is real, because no game has ever made me want to visit a place that much!
For me finding time to play games can often feel at a premium, so when I play I try to make my time as productive as possible. But with this game, I just couldn’t help but walk about and just marvel at its beauty. Thankfully this game has one of the most robust photo modes I have ever used in any video game. I’m talking, changing time of day, weather conditions, adding particle effects, dynamic range and so much more. I just kept on using it, as its so easy to use and there were so many great moments I had to capture.
To match the graphics, the music and sound is also top tier. You can tell Sucker Punch really were inspired by Japanese cinema, and they really did the homework. The orchestral music used for battle, for high tension situations to even wondering out different temples and villages. It felt so authentic, really gave a cinematic feel to it. It added to the immersion of playing an epic Japanese tale. You can play the game in english dub, and from videos I have seen the voice acting is excellent, but I wanted that true experience and played in Japanese dub and it did not disappoint. This game was a masterclass visually and audibly. You need to experience it for yourselves to really feel what I felt, words do not do it enough justice.
Like watching anime, Japanese dub is the way to go!
I’m not going to go into spoiler territory for this game, as I feel I really don’t need to. But rest assured its a story worth playing, it has a ton of memorable characters, epic face offs, a few note worthy branching paths and other great trinkets that fill you on the the world of Tsushima. The protagonist Sakai, may not be the most interesting character you will have played as, but he is endearing and someone you do root for. While the villain Khotun Khan is treacherous, manipulative and stands against almost everything the samurai stand for. Sometimes in open world games, the main villain does not appear enough, but here is present on screen and you constantly hear about him off screen. You definitely look forward to battling with him and trying to gain the upper hand against him in his army in your quest to take back Tsushima.
While the game does not have have multiple choices with multiple consequences. You do feel the weight of some of the actions you are required to take in not only your battles with the Mongol army, but with the people of Tsushima too. The title Ghost of Tsushima actually has a meaning behind it and when you play the game you will see how it comes about and what it means. For the most part the story is focused on regaining Tsushima, but there are some mystical side quests too that bring in some cool supernatural elements, which tie in nicely to the game-play, more on that later.
Epic duels a plenty, with stakes high
Now as much as I rave about the story and the characters of this game, I will admit. It’s no Witcher 3 or Read Dead. Maybe because the premise is a little more simple and the goal to get to the end is slightly more straightforward. Perhaps it could have done with optional side quests that greatly effect the outcome of some main quests and how the world responds to your actions. There is definitely potential there and I guess I could say this is the only part of the game it plays it safe. Nonetheless, it is still a story I was engrossed in and I enjoyed playing as Sakai.
How Strong is Your Will?
I’ve got to say the gameplay almost matches the visuals of the game. There is a ton of variety in combat. Some people have said its like Assassins Creed in Japan, I get where those comparisons come from, but Ghost of Tsushima is game in its own right. Like I mentioned before, the Samurai have their way of doing things when it comes to battle. Their belief in honour and integrity is held to the upmost and highest regard. Nothing outlines this more than the face-off mechanic. So as you’re approaching a group of enemies. You can activate this by pressing the up button on the D pad. You immediately call out your foes, Sakai will scream out something like “bring out your strongest warrior” from there it’s a mini game of who flinches first. You patiently wait for your enemy to launch their attack, you then immediately press the triangle button and kill them with one direct blow. The camera pans to a slow motion shot, a streak of blood bursts out from their body as they fall to the ground from the strike of your sword. It is epic! and you come across these face offs plenty of times, and it never gets old. Later you can chain it to multiple enemies and they even try to goad you into attacking first, which can lead to your near death.
There are multiple skill trees in this game, and a number of stances that you unlock to help you battle different enemy types. With a press of a couple buttons you can switch between stances, helping you chain attacks. One second you’re in a moon stance breaking an opponents shield, then you switch to a wind stance to break an opponent’s long staff. It is multi tasking in a way, and adding in parries and dodges it can all sound very overwhelming. But the game excellently drip feeds you into the different stances and abilities. So by the end of it all, you do feel like a true Samurai master. You even then get a bow to pick off enemies from afar, chimes to draw enemies in, smoke bombs to help you evade and so much more. The combat really lets you play the game the way you want to play.
I played a hybrid of ninja-samurai-archer
Which ties me into answering my question, how strong is your will? As there are sections of this game, where playing with stealth is sometimes the only way to get to your next objective or the more safer option. Sakai being a samurai, the thought of killing some one from the back or sneaking past an enemy. Goes entirely against what he believes in. But after meeting certain characters and gaining certain abilities, you sometimes do exactly that. In a way playing more like a Ronin. Now it’s not a prominent thing, where you got to play stealth. More often than not you can go gung-ho and play as the Samurai. You may find yourself wanting to do just that, to stick to Sakai’s roots. for the most part it is up to you, that is where it ties in the whole idea of building the legend that is the Ghost of Tsushima. Will you honour the code of Samurai, or will you adapt and be more like a Ronin? you really do feel like you’re building your own legend by having the ability to choose how you take on your enemies.
Plenty to do, Lots of Tsushima
Let me get this out of the way, the game does have its standard open world mechanics. Camps to liberate, towers to climb, collectibles to find, secret locations, etc. But for some of these things it does add a unique twist and the tasks you have to do feel very different and new. For example when exploring the map, it’s not like Ubisoft games when you open it and its filled with icons for you to get to. The map expands as you explore, each section you liberate will pop up with a question mark or two, but keeps it at a bare minimum. It feels very much like Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Where the map is there for you to explore on your own and make your own way around it.
There are shrines for you to find, which means climbing cliffs and mountains, some are pretty straight forward parkour sections, where others do require a bit more thought. the rewards you get, do make it worth your while and you are treated to a stunning view. There are hot springs to find that increase your health, and while Sakai meditates he reflects on his own personal feelings. There are Bamboo posts where you have to strike several in one go by inputting the commands as quick as possible. Fox dens, campsites and more. Yes it can feel like these are there for a completionist. But trust me, you will never feel forced to find then. You will find them your own way, and seriously you will be exploring yourself because, Tsushima was built so well that it will make you want to explore the island.
I was constantly treading off the beaten path, because there was always something catching my eye
Side quests are plenty, some of them are mundane and not the most interesting, But others with key characters have a story worth experiencing in their own right and have their fair share of epic moments. The ghost story’s that lead to the more supernatural, are sometimes like a game of cat and mouse and the battles are up with there with the main story missions. Overall there is a ton of meat here, a lot of it is protein and not just fat. You wont find yourself skipping many and just blazing through the main story missions. This is an open world game that is up there with the best of the best.
A Great Send Off
The Playstation 4 has a fantastic library of exclusive games and this game coming as the very last one, definitely had a heavy weight of expectations resting on its shoulders. But when you play this game, you don’t feel like Sucker Punch ever felt it. They really just spent time with it and made it with a lot of love, care, thought and detail. I’m glad they did and took their time with it. As the game is stunning, it is super fun to play, there is tons to do and thankfully runs very well too. There are so many other things that you can do that I didn’t write about or barely just scratched the surface.
I can recommend this game to so many different types of people, so many that I’m just going to say, if you love video games, play this game. I think thats the best compliment I can give it, that everyone that I know, needs to experience it.
So that are my thoughts and opinions on Ghost of Tsushima, what did you think of it? Did you like it as much as me? or maybe just maybe didn’t like it?? Sound of below, would love to hear what you think!