If you haven’t already played the game, there are several assets from the start that could reel anyone in by its singular qualities alone. The action is solid, the graphics are epic, the story and setting is certainly compelling, and being an open world game, you can certainly make this title last with everything there is to accomplish. Without spoiling anything, this generalization is meant to say with sincerity, that Ghosts of Tsushima is certainly worth your time.
That being said, 13th century Japan is looking real damn good. Sucker Punch Productions flexed their muscles here and is certainly their best trait for the game all throughout the story. And rightfully so, they even have a camera mode to catch all those scenic areas you find along the way. Think of traditional Japanese style art and paintings that you may have seen before and Ghosts of Tsushima brings them to life. High rise cliffs with trees overseeing the ocean and the Golden forest below in the evening sun. Leaves, leaves, and more leaves just flowing and decorating your screen with passing winds and ancient forests can only be described as ‘luscious’. I’m not necessarily interested in camera modes usually, but I couldn’t help but use it in one of the survivor camps. The camera freezes the moment but the leaves still flow all around setting up for some awesome cinematic moments. I envy those playing on PS4 Pro.
Being an open world game was a surprise to me since I’ve gone into this game pretty cold and not knowing much besides the awesome reveal trailer. Once I first realized I had the whole island to explore, I was floored to understand that the look of the game wasn’t some mapped out linear section my character was confined in, but the whole island was going to be like this! Shrines, castles, hot springs, waterfalls, and villages are all intertwined with impressive forests and mountainous areas. Open world games aren’t necessarily my favorite but the island’s appearance is such a refreshing take on the game style that I’ve enjoyed exploring everything.
The story and game-play keep you engaged the whole time. The open world busy work quests are not present here. You’ll come across villagers that give you information to work on something on the side but these are missions to save people and liberate areas from murderous Mongols. Everything seems to wrap closely to the main story and goal to free your people and eliminate any danger that crosses your path. Your character, Jin Sakai, will run into opposing mongol camps, troops patrolling the highways, and fortresses and castles to take back. Despite being a lone samurai trying to fight off invaders of your island, you’ll run across plenty of friends to help you as well. What I appreciate most of the premise and direction, of Ghosts of Tsushima, is that you’re getting a realistic story that took place in a real period running through the Feudal Japan medieval era. Within 15 hours of the game, there’s been no mythical creatures or supernatural happenings prominently shown in the story but it’s not needed. The beauty of this game alone gives it that story book quality and and there was care into maintaining a historically accurate foundation for Ghosts of Tsushima.
The sword-play is an important quality to this game. Its presence in this story scratches an old itch of just wanting to brutally cut down enemies with a Samurai sword. Samurai action movie fans will enjoy playing the game and living through Jin’s action encounters as if they were watching movies like, “13 Assassins“. I’ve been craving this type of game for a long time, and with the challenges to master the fighting styles Jin can use, it still shows it can be a welcoming process for less experienced players. If you’re looking for a more easier going experience, learning to fight wont be a crutch to your progression. That being said, you’re not “Shadow of Mordor-ing” your way through bad guys. Realistically, you’re going to be able to handle only a handful of enemy combatants at a time, but as your skills grow, you’ll start to see less of a scurrying Jin Sakai, to more of a legendary bad-ass taking out Mongols left and right.
As an advocate to holding out on AAA titles til they lower in sale price after a couple months (at least that is a common pattern seen with sale value these days), know that Sony Exclusive titles are a welcomed exception to my personal rule. Ghosts of Tsushima is no different from the high standard Sony Interactive Studios has provided time after time. Let me know if you’ve gotten to try the game and what stands out as noteworthy in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback and how you’re liking the game.