Brings the Beauty of Old School Japan to Your Screen
Graphics can Really Falter at Character Faces
The Main Story Took a Backseat
6 years after the second instalment to the Infamous franchise, Sucker Punch Productions is back with a totally brand new title, Ghost of Tsushima. Straying away from their more familiar genre of super powered characters, Ghost of Tsushima aims to be more realistic by setting it in feudal Japan with no outrageous abilities in sight.
Ghost of Tsushima is an open world, 3rd-person action adventure game taking place in late 13th century Japan. You follow the main character Jin Sakai, the last known living samurai who is trying to repel the invading forces of Mongolia from taking over Tsushima Island.
Right off the bat, I would say the Sucker Punch definitely put gameplay first although there are many things attributing to what made the game truly enjoyable. When you start the game you get to choose from different modes, whether you want it to be dubbed in English or Japanese, which both have their pros and cons.
If you play it in English the characters move accordingly in sync but it doesn’t quite have the same impact as the Japanese dub (much like anime), but for some reason the the characters lips don’t seem to be syncing as well when dubbed in Japanese.
On top of this, you also get to choose if you want to play the game in a ‘Kurosawa Mode’, a nod to the old Japanese samurai movies directed by Akira Kurosawa (whose movies also inspired Star Wars). The mode lets you experience the game literally in black and white with adjusted audio to make you feel like you’re playing in an actual Kurosawa movie. But while I’d say the mode is a nice addition, it does get jarring to play without colour.
The open world aspect definitely made roaming the island of Tsushima a lot more beautiful, especially when you discover shrines and temples as well as very beautifully designed greenery. The scenic aspect of the game was also further enhanced with the game’s reduced heads-up display (HUD).
Sucker Punch wanted a minimal HUD and succeeded by removing the mini-map and replacing it with a guiding wind that will direct you to your marked locations in game, leaving only your health and ability bar right at the bottom left of your screen. However, having no mini-map can be quite annoying as you can never really tell exactly where the hell you are.
The stealth and traversing mechanics on the other hand, definitely took a leaf from Assassin’s Creed‘s book, with options to stealth kill your enemies with a variety of tools and weapons to help aid you in avoiding detection as well as speeding up your assassinations.
Traversing Tsushima also felt familiar as you’ll not only be climbing walls but you’ll also be jumping from narrow surface to narrow surface and using extra tools to get to hard-to-reach place.
That being said, the true star of the gameplay is the actual combat with your katana. The motion of your character and the way the weapons clash, get parried or even kill just feels so satisfying, especially since each fight with any enemy is a challenging one. Additionally, you’ll eventually learn different sword styles and abilities that make you feel even more stylish.
The ability to have one-on-one showdowns with your enemies where you get the chance to slay them with one swift swipe of your katana, also adds to the samurai movie factor especially in Kurosawa mode.
With such wonderful and engaging gameplay mechanics, I can’t help but feel that the main story took a backseat and kind of faded into the background. This is more so with the amount of side-quests and mini challenges you’re able to pursue thanks to the developers’ aim to give you a truly free-roam experience. That being said, the story isn’t a bad one, it just feels less memorable after many hours of gameplay.
What truly disappointed me though, was the graphics. Playing the first hour of the game made me question if they used mo-cap for the character models as their faces were not really moving and expressionless. On top of that, some of my enemies dead bodies were rendered off the floor above my characters head.
Playing on a standard PS4, I would completely understand that there might be some disparity in the graphics compared to the PS4 Pro. But honestly this isn’t good enough an excuse for how badly the faces were rendered throughout the game. That said, the overall world was still beautiful and really did make me feel like I was experiencing late 13th century Japan.
Overall, Ghost of Tsushima was definitely a fun experience and it did feel like the developers tried their best to stay faithful to what life was like and how things would have looked in late 13th century Japan. However, it seems like they let up on the focus of the story and graphic quality of the game.
In spite of those flaws, I’d still recommend this game to gamers who love stealth or action games and are looking for an experience with many hours of content.