Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 4
Initial Release Date: July 17, 2020
Purchase: Playstation Store
I have recently achieved the platinum trophy for Ghost of Tsushima and I love it even more now than I did during during my first impressions post! This game was an absolute treat to experience from start to finish and I’m definitely experiencing a bit of video game hangover after finishing it. It felt like such a complete package and the exact kind of experience I was hoping for coming off of the depressing experience of The Last of Us Part II. Before you read much further, this review will delve deeper into the game than the first impressions post did so beware of spoilers. I will, however, do my best to avoid too many main story spoilers.
I covered it a bit in my previous post, but this is a game that is begging to be explored and gawked at. It is one of the most beautiful games I have ever seen on any platform, and it’s even more impressive to me that they were able to accomplish all this in a huge open world environment. We usually only see this type of cinematic, awe-inspiring, graphical prowess in the more linear triple A titles. It really seems like every moment of this game drips with style and it has me just stopping to stare at my surroundings all too often. This is especially true when you take into account that this game has the best photo mode of any game I have ever played.
Ghost of Tsushima is a game that doesn’t do many new and revolutionary games, but the new ideas they introduce here go a long way in terms of immersion when exploring. Rather than using waypoints like you would see in most open-world games such as this one, this game utilizes the wind and birds to direct you to points of interest. You can still open up your map and pick a point on the map you want to make your way to, but rather than the point showing up on a mini-map (there isn’t one) you will see a gust of wind blow in the direction you need to head. This sounds like a small feature that really doesn’t change much, but it keeps you engrossed in the world and focused on your surroundings. When you couple this with the little yellow birds that will fly by and you can follow to points of interest that are close by, you are met by a game that keeps you immersed and lets you really feel like you are journeying naturally through the world.
When you are following those birds you will stumble across things like fox dens and shrines to name just a couple of the offerings the game will give you to complete. For the fox dens you mostly just follow the fox as it leads you to an Inari Shrine, which will give you a point towards some charm rewards. I was afraid that this would get stale after 50+ hours with the game, but to my surprise Sucker Punch did a great job of keeping things fresh and making it feel interesting throughout the experience.
Once you follow that wind to the next mission on your map you will likely be face to face with a Mongol war camp. This is where the other half of the game comes in to play. The combat. In a game about a samurai that is struggling with balancing his honorable fighting style with the sneaking and back-stabbing tactics of his “ghost” side, the combat can be approached multiple different ways. You can walk straight up to the camp and challenge them to a standoff with one of their strongest warriors, just like you would imagine a traditional samurai to do. Alternatively, you could sneak around the back and slip inside through a gap in the fence and silently dispose of each of the Mongol warriors without ever being seen. The latter of these approaches is pretty much the same as clearing out a camp in an Assassin’s Creed, but if you choose the standoff route you will have a one on one meeting with a Mongol where you hold down a button until you see them move and release it to strike them down in one fell swoop. This is one of the most satisfying ways to start off an encounter when it goes correctly, but if you mess it up you will be left with only a sliver of health as you are surrounded by enemies. Either of these tactics work well and are fun in their own regard, it will all come down to how you feel more comfortable playing. Of course I think most players will play like I did and use some mix of the two styles.
The story largely focuses on Jin’s quest to defeat these Mongol invaders and drive them out, but there is also another storyline that involves his uncle who doesn’t agree with the ghost tactics he has been using. In all reality the story doesn’t change whether you are completely honorable or you choose to be a ghost throughout. You will get some flashback cutscenes when you first do something dishonorable, but outside of that I never saw any changes to the narrative. All in all I really found myself enjoying the story of this game, especially in the latter half when things really start picking up. There was one part in particular, that I won’t spoil, that will be in the running for the best video game moment of the year for me personally.
Now if you want to complete the game and get the platinum you are probably wondering how much of a time sink this will end up being. I’m happy to say that this game is much more streamlined for completionists than most open-world games. You won’t have to find every single artifact and banner, in fact as long as you do all side quests and points of interest on the map you will be most of the way finished with the platinum by the time you finish the story. It was a really enjoyable game to platinum and one that didn’t feel like it overstayed it’s welcome the way Assassin’s Creed Odyssey did. I can see this being the first platinum for a lot of PS4 owners who fall in love with this game.
All things considered I can wholeheartedly recommend this game to any PS4 owner. It is an amazing swan song to the generation and one that deserves even more praise than it’s being given. It doesn’t do much that’s new and innovative, but it feels like it has refined all of the traditional open-world tropes and made improvements on them in just about every way imaginable. It was an absolute joy to play and I hope we get dlc so I can revisit the world again. I think this is definitely the front runner for my personal Game of the Year.
As always, thanks so much for reading! Let me know if you have been playing Ghost of Tsushima or if you plan on picking it up later down the line. Be sure to check back (at least) every Wednesday and Saturday for new posts or sign-up via email to make sure you never miss a thing! Be safe and have a great day!