Ghost of Tsushima dropped recently to remove the bitter taste many have for the Last of Us Part Two fiasco and its divisive story. Its one of the most visually-impressive releases this year, especially if you consider the PlayStation 4’s aging hardware. It adds easy to understand controls and combat mechanics, plus a deeper than the usual storyline you can enjoy for hours on end.
The game is exclusive to the PS4 platform, so you can’t use your overpowered PC to maximize every graphic setting possible. However, playing on the PS4 Pro with a 4K HDR TV is enough and quite enjoyable for your senses. It’s a great game for when you want to sit back and relax while testing the limits of your fingers and its reflexes.
Ghost of Tsushima – What it’s About (Spoilers Ahead)
This GOTY contender is set in 1274 Japan in an age where the Mongol Empire is invading vast territories to subdue its population and usurp its riches. You play as a Jin Sakai, an honorable Samurai who survives the onslaught of the invasion where the Mongols almost wiped out your comrades. The game focuses on an inner conflict that is born from the realization that maybe the linear and traditional way of the samurai isn’t going to cut it against the Mongols.
Jin then sets out to liberate his home, gather allies, and free his uncle Shimura who was taken by the Mongols. His desperate fight steers him from his disciplined ideals, but he doesn’t forget his code to protect Tsushima’s people. He becomes willing to bend some rules, as long as his primary ideal doesn’t bend and he saves the island.
That inner conflict between tradition and the dire need to act and save the island of Tsushima is the main emotion the game is trying to portray. Many of the game’s actions such as killing from the shadows aren’t part of the Samurai code, but the protagonist will realize that it helps in avoiding bigger conflicts and the collateral that comes with.
Your main opponent is Kohotun Khan who isn’t particularly terrifying despite his hordes of Mongols but has vehemence regarding his plans for domination. He’s a crafty opponent, and the game can sometimes make you feel that he’s ahead of you at every turn. Its also noticeable that your random opponents get stronger and more skilled as you progress, so the hack and slash feel will sooner be replaced with enemies that counter and dodge your moves.
Ghost of Tsushima – Review and Opinion
Let us start off saying that the Ghost of Tsushima isn’t 10/10 perfect, but it’s a fantastic game in every aspect that runs around 40-50 hours. The gameplay is solid, the story has some depth to it, and the graphics is amazing and immersive. There’s a lot of stuff to do and explore on the open map, and you can waste a lot of time just roaming around taking screenshots.
The Ghost of Tsushima’s gameplay is a mishmash of familiar titles like Assassin’s Creed, Dynasty Warriors, and a little bit of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It is not as jarring for beginners like the latter, while it doesn’t get tiring or boring after cutting down endless waves of brainless minions. Samurai and ninja fans will get a kick of the different stances and ways to dispose of your opponent, so you can either headstrong it until the end or stealthily lurk in the shadows stalking your prey.
The progression system in Ghost of Tsushima isn’t traditional as well, like most RPGs that have numbers and stats you can add to raise your damage or ability. You level up by spending points to unlock new abilities which have perceivably improved his style. In a way, you can still create a focused build, but the improvements are better felt and visible as you manipulate the character.
Another way to strengthen Jin is to upgrade his gear such as his sword, armor, and charms to meet the game’s smoothly rising difficulty. You need to accomplish side quests to attain the requirements, so playing straightforward will mean that at some point you won’t be able to get through easily. However, even if you raise the difficulty, you will notice that Jin’s sword is always lethal even if the enemies are tougher and more aggressive.
Jin can also learn to use other tools and weapons as you progress, and most of them aren’t part of a Samurai’s honorable arsenal. He will be able to use a bow, kunai, and even sticky bombs, expanding the way you can approach the game’s combat system. This coincides with the environment’s openness, giving the player a lot of control as to how they want to enjoy and finish this title.
However, one of the minor flaws we mentioned earlier is in the AI where they do not know how to engage Jin if, for example, he climbs a rooftop. The enemies will sometimes just watch you and follow you from below, breaking the flow of the action in some parts. The bosses are quite challenging, but the AI can feel a bit boring especially when you’ve already unlocked the later part of Jin’s progression.
The graphics in the Ghost of Tsushima is breathtaking and impressive, starting with the neutral yet very much alive landscape. The game has a lot of vegetation fluttering about, adding an even ominous appeal when you are about to do a standoff or meet a squad of Mongols. This title is one of the few PS4 exclusives that have that, so even if the physics of the grass aren’t accurate, it is still quite a sight to see.
Some of the environments are also well done, like the hot springs where Jin can bathe and meditate to prepare for the next battle. You can use these by the way to enjoy viewpoints and write poems, relax, and pray, all of which will help Jin in his next battle. It’s one of the mechanics we love about the game where ignoring these will have its consequences or a stop in your progression.
You can also choose two ways to enjoy the sights in Ghost of Tsushima, either in full color or in the very beautiful Kurosawa mode. The latter uses a black and white film grain similar to the style of the classic Akira Kurosawa movies which were some of the most influential products of the Japanese film industry. It would be difficult to finish the game in this mode since there some instances where colors need to be perceived, but it’s a very nice option if you simply want to roam around and absorb the scenery.
And finally, Ghost of Tsushima has an incredible dialogue soundtrack in full Japanese which makes the game even more immersive. The English dub is good enough, but it isn’t as profound or as convincing as the other, especially since lip movements aren’t synchronized. The background music, on the other hand, is quite relaxing, but there are scenes where it can sometimes feel weak or drowned out.
Thoughts on the Ghost of Tsushima
The Ghosts of Tsushima is one the must-buys this year especially since it is the last major exclusive designed for the outgoing PlayStation 4. The game is superbly designed with only a few minor flaws which are often overlooked by the lush scenery and the satisfying progression and combat system. You will love the story if you like struggling underdogs who grow into legendary warriors while fighting off an inner struggle.
As mentioned, there are some limitations in the game such as the background music and decent, but slightly lackluster English dubbing. The additional aspects of Jin’s combat system such as those outside of his Samurai code like the stealthy aspect could use some improvements, as well as the AI that reacts to it when he is revealed. But it’s a solid game overall and well worth its full price on retailer’s shelves.
About the Author:
Paolo is a gaming veteran since the golden days of Doom and Warcraft and has been building gaming systems for family, friends, and colleagues since his junior high years. High-performance monitors are one of his fixations and he believes that it’s every citizen’s right to enjoy one. He has gone through several pieces of hardware in pursuit of every bit of performance gain, much to the dismay of his wallet. He now works with Monitornerds to scrutinize the latest gear to create reviews that accentuate the seldom explained aspects of a PC monitor.