During the last half of July 17, 2020, all the gaming community could talk about was Ghost of Tsushima. Social media and blog posts were emerging with mixed reviews. However, as the hype settled down, the praising critics came in. According to them, Ghost of Tsushima was the first game of its genre to cater to the audience’s needs after hearing many complaints regarding this genre. Other than this, many other factors set Ghost of Tsushima apart from the rest of its kind.
Firstly, Ghost of Tsushima is an action-adventure and stealth game created by the Sucker Punch Productions. Sony Entertainment published this Japanese feudal-era samurai game for PlayStation 4.
The developers took inspirations from real-life locations and mythic locations from cultural folklore. They created a visual masterpiece of a game that has garnered numerous praises for its surreal visuals of the surrounding environments. It was impressive that a Western developer had hit the mark with reviving the rich history of Japan through this game with its impressive and artistic visual graphics. It has been often seen that when it came to Japanese cultures, foreigners had a reputation of messing it up with their terrible depictions. Sucker Punch was careful not to do any of that; they researched extensively through samurai movies, comics, and many Japanese resources. Reviews by Japanese critics had appreciated them for being respectful of the culture by using correct kanji (a form of the Japanese language) and being mostly historically accurate.
About Ghost of Tsushima
As the game begins, a scene is manifested before the player, where a handful of samurai warriors watch down at the beach tensely from higher ground. The night sky is alight with fire-lit torches on the Mongolian fleets that have arrived to invade Japan. Kublai Khan’s (the Mongolian King) cousin, Khotun is here to take Japan with thousands of soldiers. The protagonist, Jin Sakai, through whom the player plays, watches the Mongols land on the beach with his uncle, Lord Shimura. The latter was leading the samurai soldiers to attack the arriving Mongols. Despite being outnumbered, Lord Shimura refused to surrender and charges ahead. Hence, the player’s journey begins.
Throughout the game, Jin’s primary goal is to defeat the Mongols. The player is assigned missions of freeing and saving villages from the control of the Mongols. Villagers soon began to refer to him as “The Ghost,” and isolated groups of Mongol invaders start to fear him. Jin realizes that he cannot defeat the Mongols with the traditional way of the samurai. He will have to adopt a new method of combat and abandon the teachings he learned growing up.
Many critics have admired how Jin is a traditional Samurai rather than a product of Western beliefs, as it usually was in early Western depictions of Samurai warriors. His reluctance to abandon the honorable way shows his inner conflict. He is forced to fight through the methods of poisoning his enemies, sneaking up behind them to attack them. He utilizes stealth instead of facing his enemies head-on.
Taking inspiration from many famous samurai movies, the developers tried to let the players grow empathetic to Jin. As Jin travels through the island, he and the player are given a chance to connect to the ordinary villagers.
Ghost of Tsushima Gameplay
Ghost of Tsushima mostly involves exploring the open world, using stealth to sneak up on enemies, and fight with various weapons and stances. Now, when it comes to combat gameplay, its difficulty is not too easy nor too difficult. Throughout the game, the enemies grow more durable and difficult to fight against. Therefore, the player must train and acquire various stances alongside upgrading weapons. There are different types of enemies. Thus, the player must be careful to use the best stance for maximum damage to the enemy without exhausting or injuring Jin. There’s a lot of creativity that can be extended to the combat. However, the same can’t be said when it comes to stealth.
Players can explore through the island of Tsushima that features various biomes and natural diversities. They have the Divine Wind (kamikaze) to guide them to many locations and unlock side quests or multiple items that aid the players or combats. The side quests are neither too unimportant to be forgettable nor too essential to reveal a significant plot point. They are often there to connect to the culture, be familiarized with the folklores, and watch Jin’s character develop. Certain side-quests involve the other characters of the game, which gives depth to them to the players.
The developers even took care of amplifying the in-game experience and allowing the players to be immersed in the world of Tsushima by adding a background score of traditional Japanese instruments.
One of the more popular modes of the game that had samurai fans reeling in excitement is the Kurosawa mode. The grainy, black-and-white version of visuals gives off the cinematic feel of the renowned samurai movies that had inspired the developers. In a way, this was their tribute to those movies and a way of acknowledging the niche community of samurai movie fans.
Another exciting feature of Ghost of Tsushima is the Photo Mode. It allows the players to take still or moving pictures of the gorgeous atmospheric scenes in the game at any angle they desire. The players can add leaves or various other particles blowing by and control Jin’s emotion in the picture.
Ghost of Tsushima has truly set the bar high with its vast room for creativity in combat gameplay, stunning visuals, and moving plot. The developers certainly took a high risk of emulating the historical Japanese culture of the shogun and samurai days. However, that risk paid off, and the game was a smashing success that sold more than 2.4 million units worldwide while receiving massive praise. It does have some flaws in the enemy AI and restrictive creativity in the stealth gameplay, with some bugs here and there. However, they are not major enough to abrupt the flow of the game. It’s an overall, well-rounded off game that guarantees players to have a great time.