1 in every 200 men living today can genetically be linked back to Genghis Khan. The Mongolian ruler was just as proficient in conquering countries as he was in conquering the gene pool. The Khans ruled most of Eurasia from 1206 AD to 1368 AD. In Ghost of Tsushima you play as Samurai Jin Sakai on the eve of the very real Mongolian invasion of Tsushima, Japan in 1274.
Ghost of Tsushima is developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. This third person Action game is the first party swan song for the current console generation. Sucker Punch is famous for making the Sly Cooper franchise and the Infamous series. Their last game was the 2014 PS4 title Infamous: Second Son and its standalone expansion Infamous: First Light.
I will try to avoid spoilers for the most part. This game deserves to be experienced so if you are completely blind here is the state of play that breaks everything down if you don’t want to do that however. A honorable mention is the fantastic Kurosawa Mode that transports the vibrant colored landscape into a start black and white version reminiscent of something out of a old time Samurai flick. Its inclusion plus English and Japanese voice and subtitle tracks make the game a treat however you want to play it.
From the moment you load into the main menu the game looks stunning. With a beautiful menu consisting of only your blade and a mask blowing in the breeze the attention to detail is immaculate. Flower petals flow through the air as you traverse the Island in such a way that every time I acknowledged it, I needed a moment to get back into what I was doing. Much of my time in the game has been clearing the map to see the sites of Tsushima more than the actual objective I have at hand. Ghosts of Tsushima also has an incredibly accessible photo mode with the touch of the right directional button you get a menu full of customizable assets to line up the perfect shot or motion graphic of your samurai.
Storywise, Ghosts of Tsushima starts with a bang and then has its hold on you the whole ride through. Jin Sakai is a samurai honor bound to the code and is thrusted into his first battle only to watch all he knows get destroyed almost instantly. Revived by luck, Jin tries to liberate his island with the help of former mentors and new allies. There are three tiers of missions in Ghost of Tsushima: Main Missions, Side Missions and Legend Missions. Each one different in length but the same level in importance. You can spend 40 minutes doing a mission hunting down a legend and getting a rare item as a reward or 15 minutes doing a side quest getting some backstory on one of the cast of characters. Nothing feels like it was just thrown in.
Honorable mention goes to a side quest that lasts only two missions in the second act. Within two missions, the way they portray the relationship Jin has with an old family caretaker feels so realistic that it immediately hit close to home for me. The characters’ dialogue and actions resonated with me to the point where once it was over and a character you were with died, I had to sit at their grave and bawl for a couple minutes. Ghosts of Tsushima is a work of fiction but the stakes feel real.
Throughout the course of the game you learn different stances that are useful against the four archetypes of enemies. I like mixing and matching stances to throw off swarming enemies but after two strikes in the wrong stance (enemy dependent), the game will pause to remind you that another stance is more useful against that type of enemy.
Another thing I have a minor gripe with is the abundance of things to do. So often I would be riding to a main mission I had put on the backburner and a little golden bird would throw me off my course. Their sole purpose is to show you things you can miss like objectives, shrines and fox dens. After a while it felt similar to the usual Ubisoft game where my map was chock full of icons for me to get to and I was just too overwhelmed to get to them.
Ghost of Tsushima is a Masterclass of a game. Simply put if you are a fan of sprawling open worlds full of interesting plot strands, samurai and their noble clashes, or just a damn good story Ghost of Tsushima is more than worth the investment. This has quickly become one of my favorite games of this console generation and I can’t recommend it enough.
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