Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 4
Initial Release Date: July 17, 2020
Purchase: Playstation Store
My First Impressions
The time has finally come! This is the game that I had marked as my most anticipated release of the year and I am happy to say that it doesn’t disappoint, at least not through the first 8 hours or so. I spent much of launch day yesterday messing around in the most beautiful open world I have ever seen and fulfilling my desire of becoming a samurai, and it was everything I hoped it would be and more.
The game has one of the most striking visual styles I can remember seeing on any platform. It is a mix of great graphical fidelity with a remarkable art-style that makes for a gorgeous rendition of feudal Japan. The game my fall short of something like The Last of Us Part II in terms of crafting a completely realistic looking world, but Ghost of Tsushima takes a real life setting and builds on it with it’s own cinematic flair that makes it feel like you are playing through a samurai movie.
In the lead-up to this game I heard so many comparisons to Assassin’s Creed and Breath of the Wild and I am delighted to say that these comparisons were accurate. The final product feels like these two games were put together with a Japanese filter on top. This is honestly the first game since Breath of the Wild that I have felt the draw to explore every nook and cranny of a world, and exploration is one of this games strong suits.
Instead of the normal waypoints and mini-maps Ghost of Tsushima does something unique by leading you to your objectives by having gusts of wind guide you. You can also follow foxes and birds at certain points to find secrets that will help upgrade Jin or customize his appearance. It’s really an ingenious way to circumvent the traditional video game tropes and keep the mechanics tied to something that makes sense in the world. The game does a great job of immersing the player and keeping them in the world without the need to get to bogged down in menus and UI.
Once the wind leads you to your objective you will usually need to fight off some enemies. The question then becomes, how does combat feel in Ghost of Tsushima? I thought it felt super satisfying! The game adopts something similar to an Assassin’s Creed game in that the enemies surround you in a circle and come at you one or two at a time, but rather than just parrying, dodging, and attacking, you also have the thing that makes this combat system unique. The stances.
Jin has four different stances that he can utilize in battle (at the time of writing this I only had access to two). You can unlock the 3 stances other than the one you start with by killing Mongol Leaders, needing more to unlock each consecutive stance. Each of the stances give you an advantage in battle over a different enemy type. The first one I unlocked was the water stance, which made Jin more effective against enemies using shields. You can change these stances on the fly during battle and use them to take out certain enemies more easily, and this goes a long way to making you feel like an accomplished samurai who knows exactly how to deal with his foes.
One of the coolest, most novel things this game includes is it’s Kurosawa mode. It was made to emulate the old Kurosawa samurai films. You can turn on the mode at any point and play the entire game in it if you so choose. It turns the game into black and white with a film grain over the top of it, it even makes all the sound seem like it’s coming from an old tinny sounding television. It makes it hard to find collectibles and other things in the world, so at the end of the day it isn’t a mode that I would always want to have turned on, but it was a really cool nod to the old samurai films. I just wanted to highlight this feature as it was something super cool for them to include!
All in all, this game is completely exceeding the expectations I had for it. I knew I would have a lot of fun with it, but it has blown me away to the point this could end up as my personal game of the year! If you are a fan of open-world games or samurai in general, then I can wholeheartedly recommend you pick this one up!
As always, thanks so much for reading! I appreciate each and every view I get! If you are playing Ghost of Tsushima or are planning to pick it up, let me know in the comments below! I’ll be posting even more thoughts (and screenshots) about the game over on my Twitter, so be sure to follow me there to see all my updates! Check back for new posts (at least) every Wednesday and Saturday, and sign-up via email to make sure you never miss a new post! Be safe and have a great day!