After almost three years since its initial reveal, Ghosts of Tsushima is nearing release. The latest project from Sucker Punch is their first title in close two six years, and if what we’ve seen so far is anything to go by, it could be their best yet.
Ghosts of Tsushima takes place in 1274 with players taking control of Jin Sakai. Jin is one of the few surviving samurai on Tsushima Island, with the rest being killed by the invading Mongol Army. Jin is a proud warrior and will stop at nothing to protect his people and the land in which he stands on.
To combat the Mongol Army and its ruthless general, Khotun Khan, Jin must adapt his fighting style by embracing the way of the Ghost. The Ghost is a dishonourable title, one that Jin looks to have accepted as a means of combating the Mongols. The Ghost isn’t a title laced with honour, as Jin has merely accepted it as a means of striking fear into the heart of the Mongol army. He knows that in order to survive and protect the rest of the island, he must do whatever it takes.
As The Ghost, Jin doesn’t fight fair. He’ll use every option available to him to survive and clear the area. Gameplay in this style is geared towards stealth-based combat, with Jin utilising distraction tools and focusing on assassinating enemies quietly rather than in hand-to-hand combat. When caught, Jin can use kunai to take out multiple enemies at once and can also deliver a quick kill to enemies that are frozen in fear.
If a quieter approach isn’t for you, you might find more enjoyment in focusing on your samurai skillset. You’ll primarily rely on the use of your katana in combat, but you’ll also have a bow and arrow at your disposal to take out ranged enemies from a distance. Time is of the essence in combat, as parries will be the key to opening up enemies for a lot of damage. To deal with the different types of enemies in the game, Jin has multiple stances to select from. Each stance is more effective against a certain enemy type, so you’re best to swap these around when taking on groups of enemies.
There’s another feature that I thought was a nice touch – you can challenge enemies to a standoff. These are one-on-one engagements where Jin will fight to the death with a Mongol soldier.
No matter what you’d prefer, you’re free to approach the game in whatever style you’d like. It’s a great move on Sucker Punch’s part as it makes the game more accessible to gamers who prefer different playstyles. I love some stealth-based gameplay, and I also really like the efforts they’ve made to make the samurai-focused combat feel reminiscent of what you’d expect to see in a film, so I’ll likely be jumping between both.
As great as it looked, I did notice a few oddities, however. In the recent State of Play, I thought that the samurai-focused segments looked quite easy, with the enemies not providing much of a challenge. Some of the animations looked a little off too, especially when Jin killed enemies with the bow and arrow. The death animations have been an annoyance for me in past games from Sucker Punch, so it’s a shame to see a similar case here. In regards to the enemy difficulty, I’m hoping that this was strictly for the sake of the demo, or that it can at least be subsided through difficulty options.
Tsushima Island is a vast and beautiful land. It truly looks stunning. Colourful fields of flowers, mysterious forests and weakened villages are just some of the areas that emphasise the beauty of the island, as well as the damage that the Mongol Army has done to it. It’s a world that Sucker Punch really want you to immerse yourself in, and they’ve gone to great lengths to make this possible.
Instead of a standard waypoint, players can be pointed in the right way by monitoring the direction of the wind. Players are encouraged to explore, with the game opting to use natural guides to attract your attention. Smokestacks in the distance are a sign of those in need, while birds and foxes will lead Jin to locations of interest and hidden items.
Customisation plays a big role in Ghost of Tsushima. Jin’s outfit is more than just an aesthetic choice, as different gear is used to accentuate the playstyle that you prefer to roll with. You can change the colour of your gear by collecting dye, but this won’t adjust the gears properties in any way. The customisation goes deeper with Charms and Technique Points. Charms serve as the games equivalent to modifiers, whereas Technique Points are used to upgrade and learn new skills and abilities.
Sucker Punch also have a few features for fans of samurai cinema. Being big fans themselves, the team have introduced an in-game filter to feel more akin to older films. There’s also a Japanese voice track in the game, which you can choose to use with English subtitles. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll be using this when I get my hands on the game.
Ghost of Tsushima looks great. The world that Sucker Punch has created is not only beautiful but one that I can’t wait to immerse myself in. If you’re a fan of old samurai movies you might be inclined to check this one out. Either way, Ghost of Tsushima is looking to be the perfect bookend to the success of the Playstation 4.
Ghosts of Tsushima will be available for the Playstation 4 on July 17.