Ghost of Tsushima – Initial Thoughts

From the outset, Ghost of Tsushima has appealed to me.  Playing as a Samurai in an open-world, made by Sucker Punch (the same people who made InFamous).

I know they put a lot of attention into their worlds, and that they make great games.  Tie that in with the Feudal Japan, in 1274, and well, you had me at hello.

Reviews came in thick and fast, lauding the game, and it has been a critical success.  Which is fantastic news for the studio, and another notch on the belt of Playstation and their exclusives.

Ghost of Tsushima is basically set to give me a great time as far as I can tell.

Ghost of Tsushima
 

Samurai’s Creed

After watching a lot (a lot) of Ghost of Tsushima reviews, one thing I never picked up was exactly how much it feels like it could be a game in the Assassin’s Creed series.  Or more, how it “feels” like that.

Movement isn’t as rigid and precise as the countless “Stand-Off” clips I’d seen, would have you believe.  Ghost of Tsushima is very much an open-world, 3rd-person action/stealth game.

Now, this isn’t a complaint.  It just wasn’t exactly what I’d expected of it.  I expected the stoic, considered movements of a Samurai in battle, and perhaps a little more weight in traversal?  I’m not 100% sure what I thought movement should feel like in Ghost of Tsushima, but it’s definitely more akin to a modern Assassin’s Creed than I’d realised.

So you’re climbing, your sneaking (Samurai sneaking? It makes sense within the context of the story) and you’re killing large amounts of Mongols and bandits.

I love Assassin’s Creed, and I love the feel and setting of Ghost of Tsushima, so, so far I am all-in!

 

Fight me

One of the often shown elements of the game is the combat.  Precise sword movements, different stances to counter different types of enemy, and  taking on mobs of enemies with finesse (sometimes).

I started the game on hard, and the learning curve to get my head into the combat was steep.  I wasn’t parrying properly, I wasn’t blocking and dodging effectively, and it just wouldn’t “click”.

Ghost of Tsushima is pretty unforgiving to start with.  If you die, though, it’s probably your fault.  Sure mobs can overwhelm, but you can freely move and evade.

I think I’m about 10 hours in (no way of finding out as far as I can tell?) and it’s all just working for me now.  I think I had to put some work in to really “get” it, but I’m fairly confident in battle now, which is nice.

Stand-off’s are my absolute favourite, though. Ghost of Tsushima allows you to approach a group of enemies and ask them to send out their strongest warrior. Honourable, Samurai style. Cool.

But the tension that it builds, holding triangle, waiting to unsheathe your sword at the right time, and make that single, devastating cut.  Damn, that’s something else. Slowly unlocking the ability to chain more enemies into this, is great.  Challenging enemies, and then cutting them down in slick, sharp moves, all based on timing and reading body language.  Cool cool cool.

 

She’s a beaut

The biggest problem I have with Ghost of Tsushima right now is that I’m not spending enough time on the story.  I’ve so busy exploring, following foxes to shrines.  Following birds to hot springs, and taking photos in the excellent photo mode.

Ghost of Tsushima separates itself here by being a beautiful, nay, stunning game.  The lighting, the wind, the particles.  Everything flows and shines in glory and you end up stopping every few minutes to catch the sun, or the way the water is reflecting light.  I’ve found myself spending 20 minutes trying to get images of mist in the distance…….

This game looks so good, and the tools to take pictures are excellent.

Of course, looks are one thing, but the overall aesthetic would fall flat if the audio wasn’t on-par.  Thankfully, Ghost of Tsushima is an audible delight!

The clash of swords, the sound of arrows whooshing past you. Mongol archers shouting to let their allies know that they’re about to fire.  To the wind, the falling leaves and the choir of the birds around you.

Everything is so carefully crafted here, delivering this glossy perfection. Ghost of Tsushima is a treat for the senses.  Explore, get lost and just take photos.

I really do need to get back to the story…..

 

So far, so good….

Like I said, I struggled to get into combat to start, and it was a bit of a disappointment, because I felt hindered in every fight.  That’s not the issue now, and I feel comfortable in most scenarios.

One-on-one duels are a blast, although sometimes tough as nails.

Ghost of Tsushima looks and sounds incredible, and I’m revelling in being able to explore this world.

The next part of my review will focus on the story, and go a little more in-depth on things like voice acting, dialogue and character exposition.

As it stands, I know my motivations clearly enough, and I’m learning motivations of those I’m becoming allies with, but there’s a lot to take in.  I looking forward to seeing what twists and turns come my way.

Ghost of Tsushima is shaping-up to be an absolute game of the year contender for me.  And in a time where I’m considering games that have defined this console generation, it’ll be hard to discount this…….

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