Ghost of Tsushima is an explosive new IP from Sucker Punch Productions for the PS4. The studio is known for hits such as the Sly-cooper series, and the Infamous games.
Of course the reemergence of those titles have slowly shown no signs of traction as of this moment. However, the studio decided to develop a new IP and, for many, the title came as a breath of fresh air for gamers — especially in a time of concern and debate.
In addition to this being a new title in the ever-growing Sony game’s library, Ghost is the concept of ingenuity and how fresh it felt. It doesn’t bear the same weight and identity of titles before it. Of course, many coin the experience as the “Japanese Assassins Creed you always wanted from Ubisoft.”
I can understand where they are coming from and the missed opportunity of the franchise. Especially due to past installments of the Assassin’s Creed series which took place in pockets of time such as the crusades, ancient Greece, and even Ptolemy, Egypt.
So it’s only natural for the emergence of Ghost to incite certain similarities in style and essence of gameplay. However many forget to realize that at the heart of the title it’s a period piece on a fictional perspective of historical events. So either way you look at it, fans were relishing the fact that the reality of being able to explore the magnificent landscape of feudal Japan was soon possible.
Of course, though, the studio went a step further and weaved a strong well-written narrative around the actual Mongolian invasion of the Japanese island of Tsushima which occurred on November 2, 1274. In many ways, the game has a certain flair or ideal of feeling genuine. It doesn’t feel copy and pasted from other titles before it.
For example, the characters feel real. You feel the struggle of identity and placement residing and lingering in the heart of the protagonist, Jin Sakai. The crisis of tradition and the justification of reality is a driving point and throughout the 20-30 campaign Jin, as a character, is in a constant motion of juxtaposition on what side to choose.
At first glance before you even begin to dive in the heart of the title, the first constant thought that dances in your mind when you immediately start the title is “I want to be Samurai.” The game, of course, lets you don the mythical armor of lore, and you partake in the battles you never imagined possible.
One thing to note is the graphic quality on par with film cinematography. The presence of instant five second load times is an element of foreshadowing. Due to the title stretching the PS4 and its hardware to the limit, but also for gamers it is a taste of what the PS5 will have to offer.
One highlight is the colors of the atmosphere, the attention to detail. The contrast of colors and the difference in tones are prevalent the more you travel up the island and clear out the various zones of occupation. For example one zone is full of luscious, vibrant colors and the architecture surrounding, accolades of the era, jump off the screen and cling to life.
In all honesty the hours I spent in the game’s photo mode and comparing my shots with my friends were surreal moments. It’s clear to see that Sucker Punch held the title with a high amount of respect. Due to the admiration towards the balance of historical accuracy melted together with a splash of fiction.
In addition to the essence of gameplay, Ghost of Tsushima is a well crafted and a layered experience. The combat is rich in creativity due to the concept of stances, the methodical knowledge of what enemy type you’re dealing with, and how the AI adapts. In many ways the precision of combat and timing was eye-opening, to say the least.
I played this title blind from start to finish and honestly, I felt like I benefited from that choice, because one thing that left me speechless was the absence of a mini-map. The studio decided to experiment and try something new.
Ghost did have a compass in some aspects but it was replaced by the perception of a wind mechanic. It felt that the studio took every step possible to make this experience one for the ages. The once established video game trope was nowhere to be found. However, to my surprise, everyone I spoke with welcomed the change.
Another thing to give praise to was the cosmetic variety of various outfits. Every piece of attire came not only with a different stat boost or ability, but each article of clothing or sword kit also came with a story to further cement authenticity of the era.
Also not to mention currency being flowers you pick off the ground just felt so organic to the environment. The atmosphere felt so surreal from the element of riding your noble steed through the fields littered with vibrant colors of every flower known.
In addition to the immersive world that Sucker Punch has crafted, the inclusion of the realistic NPC’s calling you “my lord” was a sign of respect. Of course it was just another example of how deep the title really was. For example, I spent hours just roaming the countryside, getting lost in the deep narrative of the campaign.
I will say on record most of my time was just doing side missions and gathering every collectible. I was in the progress of digging up every piece of detail I could find. So, honestly, I didn’t want the tale of Jin Sakai to end but it had to. One thing I didn’t realize was the concept of me being the author was official. Then when the credits did roll, everything hit me.
It dawned on me that I was responsible for how the story unfolded. The various emotions and story beats that affected nerves with me at many points were showcases of my doing. One thing I almost forgot to give praise to is the inclusion of the majestic soundtrack and the emotion each song carried. The score helped round out a visceral experience from other titles I played before.
Sucker Punch crafted something that was never done before. It just goes to show and reinforce that Ghost of Tsushima is a title that takes inspiration from hits such as Sekiro, Batman Arkham, or even Dark Souls. However, the thing that lets it transcend those titles is the property of craft and the emotion of feeling unique.
Ghost was a gust of fresh air. It was a masterpiece on almost every level and if I had to give it a rating I would bestow a 9.7 or an A.
Remember the age-old debate? If video games are art, or in the same league as a blockbuster feature film, the fine line between truth and reality has slowly been decaying over the past few years. In 2020 the line keeps thinning and titles such as Ghost of Tsushima, God of War 2018 or Insomniac Spider-Man are examples of why that trend and revelation keeps occurring.
As gamers we wait for the launch of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X to see if the status quo of a narrative and complexity of detail will make the jump to next-gen, and help solidify the industry and franchise as a whole going forward.
So to Sucker Punch Productions, I end with one final thought: any plans for a sequel?