Developed by Sucker Punch Productions – Published By Sony Computer Entertainment – PlayStation 4 Exclusive – Out Now
Ghost of Tsushima is a game that has had a considerable amount of hype and expectation following its ambiguous and arty reveal at E3 a couple of years back. Since then every morsel of information which had been drip fed slowly prior to release was savoured as this unreal, beautiful looking samurai game got closer and closer. There were a couple of concerns preceding its release, from my personal point of view at least. One, would it make my PS4 sound like a hairdryer, and two, will its game mechanics ape that of the popular eastern games such as Nioh or Sekiero: Shadows Die Twice? Both of which are fundamentally fine videogames in their own right, but ones which also require a lot of patience and repetition, to the point where they can become rather laborious.
When I finally got my hands on this much anticipated title, it was with much relief, that at least one of the two doubts I had were put at ease, with the gameplay being much more action focussed and less emphasis on parrying, conserving stamina and having to die several times prior to figuring out how to defeat certain enemies. However, the least likely of the two hopes were dashed, as much like playing anything else on the playstation 4 with a framerate of more than 5 frames per second, I was concerned that my machine was going to take off after a few minutes of running through the most beautifully rendered long grass I had ever seen. If there was one thing other than the ridiculous storage to game size ratio that prevented the PS4 from achieving greatness, it’s the fact it sounds like a hairdryer the moment it’s asked to do any work. But that’s a discussion for another day. From the start Ghost of Tsushima is an impressive game. The Mongol invasion of the island of Tsushima is an epic, cinematic battle, where the proud, stoic samurai fight with honour (ignorance and stubbornness) on the beaches, but ultimately lose. Taking control of Jin Sakai, you are gravely wounded in the battle, but rescued and nursed to health by Yuna, a thief who you end up teaming up with in an attempt to fight back the Mongol invasion and reclaim Tsushima.
Tsushima itself is a sprawling open world of beautiful forests, grassland, canyons and mountains, showing just how far this generation of videogames has come over the last few years. Most of which can be travelled with your trusty steed. You are given a choice from one of three equine partners to wander Tsushima, and they will be your companion throughout (I chose Kage, because I was proper into Street Fighter V at the time). Tsushima is probably one of few open worlds where I didn’t use fast travel. Such is the beauty of the terrain, I would happily spend a good few minutes wandering through bamboo forests rather than taking the easy option as it looks stunning. However, with a big open world, comes a multi branching narrative and many side quests, which if you dig that sort of thing, you will no doubt love here. Those after a more linear experience may want to look elsewhere. There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in your quest for allies to overthrow the might of the Mongolian army, and you will be spending a lot of time travelling from A to B, whilst encountering several divisions of said army. You could draw comparisons to the Assassins Creed series, with its many eagles nests which allows you to see more of the terrain on your map, and also shows new areas of interest and various other things. It also pays homage to the classic samurai films of the 50’s/60’s and with its photo mode, you can take in the beauty of the game away from the games’ restrictions and limitations.
Much like is commonplace with seemingly all big budget, prestige videogames nowadays, crafting plays a big part in upkeep and upgrading. A feature that, personally I’ve been over for sometime, keeps rearing its head to ‘flesh out’ games which do not necessarily require any more padding as it is. Why developers don’t just settle for the standard skill trees that this game also has as well, and letting us just worry about saving the island rather than having to collect ‘supplies’ throughout the game I don’t know, but unless you specifically enjoy these games for their crafting elements (in which case just play Minecraft, everyone has it these days), you wouldn’t notice or care if they were there in the first place. Crafting is a tired trope which unless your game is all about making something from nothing, there is no need to pad out these already huge games further with such nonsense.
Clichés aside, Ghost of Tsushima is a lovely game to get lost in and is one of the few PS4 exclusives that would make the platform worth owning. If you can get past the wretched fan noises as well, then it’s an absolute must.