When I previewed Ghost of Tsushima, my excitement for the game was on full display. After watching the trailers and all of the gameplay previews, Ghost of Tsushima looked like it was shaping up to be the perfect bookend to the PlayStation 4 before the launch of the next generation of consoles.
While somewhat delayed, I’ve finally had the chance to play through Ghost of Tsushima, exploring the beautiful landscapes and following Jin on his journey. The game has a lot of great things going for it, but unfortunately it also has its fair share of issues.
1274. The Mongol Army has invaded Tsushima Island, dismantling their defences, slaughtering its inhabitants and attempting to claim the land as their own. Despite their attempts to push the Mongols back, the samurai on the island were swiftly defeated. Jin Sakai is one of the few that remain, and in order to save the land, he needs to regroup with old friends, form new alliances, and abandon the traditions he once knew.
The Island of Tsushima is truly wonderful and is by far the greatest strength of the game. Environments are vast, and Ghost of Tsushima features a range of different ones. Lush forests, snowy tundras, and calming beaches are just a few of the landscapes that you’ll come across in the game. Sprinkle in the islands flora and fauna and it makes for one of the most beautiful games of this generation. It’s a world that Sucker Punch has gone to great lengths to insert every detail to look as authentic as possible, creating for a superb experience.
Jumping from one strength to another, Sucker Punch has exceeded expectations in constructing a story that you’ll not only want to see through to the end but will be inclined to seek out side-content as well. A strong cast of characters is a huge factor in this, especially our hero Jin. His ongoing struggle between maintaining his honour and doing whatever he can to save the island is an interesting attribute to his character, and the way in which Sucker Punch fleshes him out with childhood flashbacks adds a deeper element to his arc. There’s also a strong supporting cast too, with Yuna, Taka, and Lord Shimura acting as great allies to Jin, while Khotun Khan serves as a worthy antagonist.
I’ve mentioned Jin’s inner struggle between maintaining his honour and embracing the legend of The Ghost earlier, and this plays a key role in how you can approach gameplay and combat scenarios. Sticking with the traditional samurai combat-style creates for some real fun moments. Timing and patience play a key role here, and you’ll need to adapt your fighting style in real-time as you take on different enemies at once. I generally tend to take a more stealth-based approach in video games, but I regularly felt inclined to stick with this style to get that authentic samurai experience.
Embracing the legend of The Ghost and trying to catch off your enemies off guard will likely feel familiar to some players. While traditional combat feels fresh and unique, I couldn’t help but feel like Ghost of Tsushima’s stealth mechanics were far too similar to the likes of Assassin’s Creed. It’s a standard affair and really doesn’t bring anything new to the table whatsoever.
Continuing the trend of Assassin’s Creed comparisons, Ghost of Tsushima also suffers from similar mission design issues that the older entries consisted of. Many missions in the game require Jin to track someone’s location or tail them secretly. It’s a massive drag and turned the game into a slog at times. These missions, while important to pushing the narrative, feel like filler in the worst possible way. There’s barely any variation between them, and certainly nothing about them that’ll stop you from yawning as soon as you’re tasked with going through one.
Another issue that I experienced with the game is a trend that Sucker Punch simply can’t seem to fix, and that is their animation work. Let me be clear here, I’m not talking about animations in the game’s cinematic cutscenes, those are fantastic. What I’m referencing are the repetitive stock animations that have plagued their games for some time. There’s barely any variety between death animations, and oftentimes bodies will float if the terrain isn’t quite level. It really affected my immersion, and gave off a sense that Sucker Punch were cutting corners. It certainly wouldn’t solve the problem entirely, but ragdoll physics would help in avoiding the robotic and clunky animations in these instances.
It might not be as great as I was hoping it would be, but Ghost of Tsushima is still a really good game that’s worth your time for its world design alone. If you’re looking to really immerse yourself, give it a run through with the English subtitles.
Ghost of Tsushima features some of the best world design in a video game and a narrative that is strengthened by a quality cast of characters. Unfortunately, repetitive mission design, questionable animation work and some standard gameplay elements hold it back from being the perfect bookend to a successful console generation for Sony.
- Superb world design
- Engaging narrative and characters
- Fun samurai combat
- Standard stealth-based gameplay
- Janky animations
- Repetitive mission design