Ghost of Tsushima had been on my radar for a fair while before its release, and being the major game following The Last of Us Part 2, it had a lot to live up to. Luckily for Sucker Punch, their efforts more than paid off producing a stellar game that could give The Last of Us Part 2 and Animal Crossing a run for their money in the game of the year contest.

The game is set in the late 13th Century on the island of Tsushima. You play as Jin Sakai, a lord and highly revered samurai who has to change his ways in order to save Tsushima from the Mongol invasion.

A Story Like No Other

Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima throws you in at the deep end as you take control of Jin Sakai charging into all-out battle. The Mongols have arrived and they’re here to decimate and conquer, you must sacrifice everything you’ve known to defend Tsushima and restore the island to its former tranquillity. Following this battle the story is set up at a perfect pace, allowing you to fully immerse yourself into the world and take full advantage of the side quests and activities whilst never losing track of the overriding narrative and the emotional push and pulls Jin faces over the course of the game.

The game cleverly sets out a three-act structure, unlocking each portion of Tsushima on the map per act. This helps drive a thorough narrative, coaxing even the most completionist of explorer gamers to follow through the narrative as they traverse Tsushima.

Ghost of Tsushima

The side-quests are split into smaller one-off stories from the people of Tsushima and long arcing stories with important characters that follow you through the entire game. Following these side-quests really solidifies these characters, making your personal relationships with them stronger and more intimate than you’d expect from side-quest characters. Whilst there aren’t hundreds of these side missions, the ones that are there are extremely detailed, breathing life and culture into the world of Tsushima making the fight for the island even more important for Jin.

As well as the relationships with these characters, your relationship with main mission characters goes through ups and downs, from deep loyalty to questionable morals, you’ll go through a range of emotions towards these characters, taking you on an immersive narrative journey like no other.

To sum up the writing and narrative design in this game; it’s simply outstanding.

Never a Dull Moment

Ghost of Tsushima

There are plenty of opportunities to do smaller activities in the game, from fox dens and bamboo strikes to tracking down collectibles and finding the novel ways you have to traverse a shrine. 

This game always invites you to explore, in an organic and non-invasive way. Using the guiding wind, you are always aware of the direction of your marked objective without a messy HUD and just a simple breeze. There are also yellow songbirds that will appear, call out their tuneful call and guide you to unmarked places of interest, again inviting you to venture into other areas of Tsushima you may have missed otherwise.

Slice N’ Dice

Ghost of Tsushima

The combat in this game is incredibly well refined, making what would seem like a highly complex combat system fluid and adaptable. Considering how many separate menus there are that you have to navigate during battle it can take some time to get used to, from the varying stances to a variety of brutal and tactical weapons. With a few bugs here and there and sometimes jarring moments of being stuck, this combat system is an almost perfect example of making complex gameplay accessible.

Where the combat truly blossoms is in the skill tree. Once you start unlocking the different stances and combat skills your power as a lethal samurai. Again, the skill tree can be intimidating at first glance but once you start to unlock sections the drive to keep unlocking more skills will keep you heavily invested in gaining those all-important skill points. It massively increases the gameplay experience, progressing at just the right pace, and now with new game+ you can carry this through the full game.

A Beautiful Open World

Ghost of Tsushima

This is one hell of a beautiful game. The mix of colours, sounds and sights attack your senses to create a vast, rolling and stunning open world. The level of detail is evidently intricate, with incredible particle physics, authentic sounds and wide variety of striking outfits to choose from. The detailed outfit system has added more than just aesthetic, with outfits increasing different attributes for different approaches

The game nails the feeling of a massive open world that doesn’t take ages to traverse, and even when it does seem like a marker is miles away, there’s always a fast travel nearby. The different areas of Tsushima are all different in their own ways, with different weather, climates and ways of life, adding to the hugeness of the world.

Ghost of Tsushima

The UI is simplistic, with the wind and songbirds guiding you to your markers. This allows you to fully embrace the visual prowess Tsushima has on offer and doesn’t clutter the screen with loud and persistent markers. The map is stylised in a way that adds to the feel of the game, and whilst it can be tedious sometimes with cluttered markers in popular areas, how the map reveals itself as you progress and the overall look of the map is well done.

Blockbuster Movie Standard

Ghost of Tsushima https://www.igdb.com/games/ghost-of-tsushima/presskit

The cut scenes are executed to a blockbuster movie standard, from camera angles to acting, it achieves what many games strive for but few games accomplish. The detailed motion capture in tandem with award worthy acting creates a truly cinematic feel which is entirely immersive and truly impressive. From this detailed motion capture to details such as clothes moving with the weather, it’s hard not to want to just sit back and watch the game unfold before you.

Final Verdict

This game has truly blown me out of the water with its detail and beauty. From the engaging narrative to the striking open world, there is always something to do. The story is so well written that no matter how long you spend doing side content, you are always sucked right back into the fray when you’re ready to progress.

Score: 9/10

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