Ghost of Tsushima: Further Thoughts

I’m at the beginning of Act 3 in Ghost of Tsushima, and if I’m honest, I’m ready for it to be over.

To be clear, that’s not because it’s a bad game, it’s a great game. But I’ve invested so much time into some of the side quests, I’ve burned myself out on being a Samurai.

The “further thoughts” elements of these reviews are always the most critical part of the process. Initial thoughts are a first-take, further thoughts become a deeper delve into things that affect me. Then the final thoughts part will look at things as a whole, after I’ve finished the game.

Expect to see less “this is incredible” and more “this doesn’t work for me”.


Story time

So here’s the thing. I’m not particularly moved by the story, or more specifically the lead portagonist Jin Sakai and his motivations.

Ghost of Tsushima is a gorgeous looking, gorgeous sounding and well-built game. But I just don’t have any emotional attachment or feel any motivation to proceed through the story.

Jin is likeable enough, but stoic. I guess that’s what Sucker Punch were going for, but he’s clearly tormented and full of turmoil around the decisions he’s making. His face however, does not show it. Nor does the way he vocalises or gestures.

I get it, Ghost of Tsushima is about tradition, the inevitable breaking of tradition, and how that impacts people in different ways. Exploring motivations to adapt and change, and see how people react. But it just doesn’t grab you.

The supporting cast, though, are filled with life, and excellent. Yuna, Taka, Lady Masako, Ryuzo etc. These stories are where Ghost of Tsushima lives and breathes. These are well acted, well written and really bring the game and story to life.

It’s odd, but I suppose that it works well enough to keep me going.

I just don’t care to much about defeating the Mongols or the honor of my uncle. Jin is fine, but he’s not willing me to push on in spite of adversity.

Ghost of Tsushima is truly excellent for so many reasons, but I’m really quite disappointed in how invested I feel, or more specifically how invested I’m not.


Changing perspective

The most jarring element of Ghost of Tsushima, for me, has been being a Samurai, but basically playing open-world Tenchu.

I love Tenchu, by the way.

Jin is a tradition-bound, hounourable Samurai. But his path throughout the game sees him adapt and change, and drop some of the strict moral codes he’s had pushed upon him all of his life.

That’s fine, in fact, it’s an interesting story element. What took me a long time, though, was adjusting how I played Ghost of Tsushima.

My initial impression was that this is a rigid Samurai, and you should play as such. Then, in the story, things loosen-up. I didn’t though. Particularly when combat is so focused on face-to-face sword combat.

It feels like Ghost of Tsushima is built at the core to fulfill that Samurai style. Especially with the cool standoff mode, and sword stances etc. But then it’s been layered with stealth, murder/stealth kills and leaning much more towards the idea of being a ninja.

I couldn’t quite get into it for a while. I was so adamant that I would play with honour, I would fight like a Samurai. The game doesn’t really want you to do that, though. Despite my best efforts, it wasn’t feasible to not be a bit sneaky.

Stealth games are my thing, I love them. But Ghost of Tsushima isn’t dressed as a stealth game, and it took a very long time for me to become comfortable with it.

Everything works really well, and the stealth fits in nicely, but it just wouldn’t compute with me until well into the second act.


Still a way to go

I’ve chased down suits of armour, foxes, hot spas and flags. Liberating farms and homesteads along the way. Slicing bamboo is a personal favourite!

My weapons and armour are being upgraded, and each set becomes a new favourite. I know I’ve invested a lot of time in Ghost of Tsushima, so now I need to finish it to justify that investment.

I just don’t feel compelled to do it right away. It’s a shame, because it makes it a chore to get back to it. When I’m playing Ghost of Tsushima, I’m loving it, but I just need to get my head into it first.

A game that I love when I play, but don’t miss when I’m away from it. It’s odd.

I think the weirdness of being a Ninja and a Samurai plays on my mind too much. All that armour, but I can roll and jump and climb like it’s Assassin’s Creed……

Take a step back, look at how stunning it is, how good the combat feels and how much fun I have when I get out of my head. That’s when it shines.

Ghost of Tsushima is a game that presents itself as serious and realistic, but is actually just a game. Get that in your mind, and you’re golden!

Now I need to finish Jin’s story, and see how things go as I bring my adventure to a close.

I do wish there was a way to know how long I’d been playing though……..It’s 2020, just add it to the save file information or something!

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