Developer(s): Sucker Punch
Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Release: July 17, 2020
Genre: Action, Stealth
What’s up Gamers and Gamettes! DevilDriver1313 is back with another review (and game) that is “On the NXT LVL!” One of the most highly anticipated games of 2020, Ghost of Tsushima is an action adventure stealth title developed by Sucker Punch exclusively for the PlayStation 4. The game is set during the first Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274. You take on the role of Jin Sakai, one of the last samurai of Tsushima Island, who sets on a quest of vengeance against the Mongol army led by Khotun that invaded his island and wiped out the entire samurai army and captured his uncle, Lord Shimura. Unable to defeat Khotun as he is, Jin wonders the island searching for allies and learning new fighting techniques that will aid in his quest to rescue his uncle and avenge his fallen brethren.
The game opens with a beautiful cinematic reminiscent of classic Japanese samurai films (I set the language to Japanese for authenticity). Ghost of Tsushima wastes no time throwing you into the thick of battle. You ride with your uncle hard into battle to stop the Mongol invasion, taking down the invaders while on horseback. Soon your steed is gravely injured by the enemy’s cannon fire. Jim and Lord Shimura attack to Mongol foot soldiers alongside other Samurai. This where you learn the controls for Jin’s actions which are very responsive. Jin attacks his enemies with traditional sword strikes. He can block incoming strikes or parry them aside with a well-timed button press. Using the left analog stick and pressing the circle button, Jin can dodge to the side and launch back in with a counterstrike. Jin and Lord Shimura soon encounter the Mongol leader, Khotun Khan, who claims to be the grandson of Genghis Khan. He captures Lord Shimura and defeats Jin leaving him for dead. Jin is nursed back to health by a woman named Yuna, who requests his help in rescuing her brother Taka, a blacksmith. Yuna promises Taka will make Jin new weapons for him to use. With no army, Jin will need allies to aid him if he wants to save his uncle and drive out Khotun and his army. Thus, begins Jin’s journey.
Ghost of Tsushima is graphically impressive both in detail and scale. Seeing the grass, trees, and other plants sway naturally in the wind and exploring the vast open world gave you the sense of being in Feudal Japan. Much like Horizon Zero Dawn, you can easily lose your senses about you taking the beauty of the scenery. True, there are not as many natural obstacles as HZD, but the landscape has been beautifully recreated, capturing the essence of feeling the grass beneath your feet. Jin travels the landscape largely on horseback as he travels from village to village in search of allies to aid his quest. Mimicking horse-riding mechanics has usually proven to be a challenge since it is difficult to properly recreate the movements of such an animal. Sucker Punch seems to have found the correct formula although there have been times where the controls were not so sharp. However, this is a small cosmetic issue that can be overlooked. While about mechanics, let’s talk about the sword mechanics. Usually with action games, swordplay can be fickle. Some games follow their own formula while others follow real world aesthetics. Ghost of Tsushima is the latter. Jin attacks his opponents with sharp, precise strikes and he can parry and counter smoothly, standing ready for the next attack. Being attacked by several enemies, I found the controls quite easy to handle in order to take them out with speed and finesse. The transition from attack to parry to attacking again is smooth and fluid. For a moment, I did feel like a samurai.
Jin can build his reputation by helping the people of Tsushima via side quests. Completing these tasks earns Jin Skill Points for him to unlock new techniques. As the story progresses, he will learn how to assassinate, use a grappling hook to climb walls, collect other weapons such as smoke bombs, firecrackers, and kunai, and learn new techniques to improve his swordsmanship. He can upgrade his arsenal by visiting various craft masters such as blacksmiths, bowsters, and armorers. Composers Ilan Eshkari and Shigeru Umebayashi bring to world of Tsushima to life with beautiful symphonic scores that tell the story. The music goes from being gentle and flowing like the winds that guide our warrior to the heart-pounding, climatic overtones that thrust you in the heat of battle.
Overall, Ghost of Tsushima is a cinematic masterpiece that transports you to Feudal Japan and gives you the full samurai experience. Fans of classic samurai epics will absolutely pour themselves into this game. Assassin’s Creed player will undoubtedly follow suit. Everyone else, you’ll have to be crazy to not enjoy this beautifully crafted saga. I know I have.
4.75 out of 5.
Until next time, I’ll see you “On the NXT LVL!”
Ghost of Tsushima playlist created by PlayStation Music on Spotify
Ghost of Tsushima Original Video Game Soundtrack