Ghost of Tsushima is Sucker Punch’s most ambitious project, which transports us to a whole world inspired by real events, but with the necessary changes and adjustments. This new adventure from the North American studio takes us to the country of the rising sun, more specifically to Tsushima Island, and takes place during the first Mongolian invasion to which the island was subjected in 1274. The game puts us in the shoes of Jin Sakai, one of the few survivors of the attack, and our main goal is to eradicate all foreign threats from the island.
Meticulous and demanding combat
The samurai is one of the most famous warriors in the world and the art of his way of fighting goes far beyond simply “wielding a sword” – or katana if you prefer. Sucker Punch studio has used several official sources on the various forms of positioning these warriors in combat and this is reflected in the gameplay. The game allows you to have several postures where each one of them suits a certain type of enemy, be it opponents with spears, shields or of larger size. It is very important that you use the correct posture in order to gain advantage during confrontations.
The game contains several unlockable skills and ultimately allows greater customization in the way we fight, be it more silent, or in pure samurai style. To help in the combat, we also have a lot of tools at our disposal, which can make a huge difference at certain times. As an example, we have the famous kunais that can eliminate – or stun – several enemies from a distance, smoke bombs or explosives, among many other possibilities.
Ghost of Tsushima combat is quite intense and at the slightest slip-up we may see our lives end in that instant. It is highly advisable to know how to defend at the exact moment, but also to deflect the enemy attack whenever possible, in order to counterattack quickly. There are attacks that are impossible to defend and the game indicates them with a small red light on the enemy. Above all, prepare for intense confrontations at all times and avoid being surrounded by enemies, a situation which can easily compromise the success of encounters. Of course, all this can be avoided if you approach the enemies as Ghost, eliminating one by one in a stealthy and relentless manner.
As far as combat is concerned, the only thing that I have to point out is the absence of the lock on mechanic on enemies, as we can often have enemies on our backs and not even know, not to mention that the camera can act tricky in tighter places.
The world of Tsushima
The way the game guides us through the most varied areas of the island is something very interesting. It is through the wind that we are guided to the next point of interest, or whatever goal we have chosen. This mechanics makes us immerse ourselves more easily in the experience, because it does not force us to consult the map constantly to know if we are on the right path.
The game encourages exploration and does it in an effective way. There is a lot to discover that will help us to evolve in several fields. Many of these places are authentic homages to Japanese culture, both in the way they are integrated into the world, but also in what our interaction with them consists. Nature itself encourages us to discover something off course, as it is the famous foxes belonging to Japanese culture itself, and also some birds that appear in the area, which take us to some places of interest.
There is a good variety of landscapes and their hues are incredible. Climate change is also very well implemented, as is the whole sound aspect of nature. However, I felt that the passage between the different climates is made somewhat abruptly, and there is not exactly a smooth passage. There was also a situation where I saved to go to the main menu and when I returned right after, the weather was completely different. Not that this is a big problem, but I thought it was right to mention an unstable behaviour in this matter. There’s some animal life in the game and we can even hunt some of them for fur. However, there are others with which there is no interaction at all and which only serve to embellish the scenery, which in itself already provides an authentic visual spectacle.
As I mentioned before, the game has several points of interest on the map, but it also has several side quests. These are quite good in terms of stories, and it also develops some secondary characters and their relationship with Jin. Apart from these, there are others with a focus on Japanese culture and which are far from being just “fillers” quests. The stories that they present us are unique and interesting, even resulting in less happy endings.
When it comes to the main missions, these are long and diverse in terms of objectives. In some cases, the game allows us to approach some of them in different ways, which ultimately encourages creativity as much as possible. The “detective” mechanics is quite present in some missions, which forces us to investigate the scenario and look for clues, easily reminding The Witcher 3 in 2015. Coincidence or not, another situation that reminded me of the Polish studio game, is due to the fact that we see the population returning to their village every time we eliminate the Mongol threat from it. It’s not that this is a problem, but it’s also not surprising that one of the best games of this generation serves as inspiration for others of the same kind.
Almost faithfully represented
I had already mentioned some of the visual part of the game, particularly the scenery and all its cinematic magnificence. I also want to praise their design and the way they fit into the world. There are forest areas, huge plains, seaside locations, but also very high places with an excellent view over much of the area where we are. Something that disappointed me a little was how many of the interiors of the buildings are copies of each other. This is reflected more in small houses, but nothing that has a big impact on the experience.
I want to praise the way in which the whole presentation of the game is very well executed with regard to the Japanese theme. Both the presentation of the title of the missions and the way they are given as completed are just some of the examples that surprised me. This of course, without forgetting, the confrontations between two samurai, in which the protagonists are the target of a visual focus that so well represents the films of the genre, and which ends up raising the levels of anxiety and intensity before the battle itself. In this field, I want to highlight the fact that the game can be played in black and white, using a mode called Kurosawa, a reference to the famous Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
It is noticeable that there has been exhaustive work around the Ghost of Tsushima audio. Both the sound of nature and the musical accompaniment itself reflect well the details that were taken into account to make us live the world of Tsushima in the most realistic way possible. It is impossible to be indifferent to traditional Japanese instruments that help to make the whole experience more real. If you want to make the experience even more immersive, you can always switch on Japanese audio. Although it’s not the original dubbing that fits with the movement of the mouths in the videos, it’s undoubtedly a good way to make the atmosphere even more real.
Throughout my several dozen hours of gameplay, I’ve rarely come across bugs, which is surprising considering that we’re talking about an open world. There were some small details here and there, but nothing that would harm my experience as a whole.
The way of the Samurai
Ghost of Tsushima took several years to make and the final result reflects this in terms of its quality. The game takes place on an island and it is possible to explore practically everything you see, offering an immensity of undiscovered terrain. The narrative is far from incredible, but it’s still a great “samurai adventure”, which fulfills its work within the standards that Sony has brought us in this generation. The combat is intense, technical, and at the same time diverse according to the different postures and the tools we can use. The soundtrack is very good and makes the whole experience is greater by using many classic instruments from Japanese music. The secondary content available will guarantee a lot of high quality extra hours, in a world carefully recreated to make us live in what is a Japanese adventure of excellence.
Intense and methodical combat
Japanese culture well portrayed
Somewhat strange behavior in climate change
Camera in combat (in cramped locations)
Release Date: 17 de Julho de 2020
Developer: Sucker Punch
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Ação, Aventura
Platforms: Playstation 4
Review copy provided by Playstation Portugal.