Released on 17 July 2020 for Playstation, Yes, it’s up to Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima to be the last major PlayStation 4 exclusive released by Sony, before moving on to the PlayStation 5 era later this year. And coming from the hand of TLOU2, that is not a minor task.
Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima is an open-world action-adventure set in medieval Japan. You take on the role of Jin Sakai, one of the last remaining samurai from the time of the first Mongol invasion of Japan in the 13th century.
The story of the game begins when Jin’s uncle is kidnapped by Khotun Khan, the main antagonist of Ghost of Tsushima. The Mongolian warlord locks your uncle in his heavily guarded castle, so you spend the first act of the game training to infiltrate this fortified fortress.
Jin is trained in classic samurai forms. Honorable, one-on-one sword fights and no unfair stealth business. But fair fights are not going to attack the Mongol army, so Jin needs to deviate from his Goody Two-Shoes path and acquire some dirty skills before facing his enemy.
What this really means is that before you save your uncle, you will have to learn to sneak, kill, and use tools like smoke bombs and throwing knives.
The gameplay is considered to be similar to Assassin’s Creed with much better combat. I realize it sounds like an over-simplified comparison, but it’s impossible to ignore how many Tsushima ghosts stem from the Assassin’s Creed series.
A big plus is that Ghost of Tsushima’s combat has more depth than we generally see in this genre. As you progress through the story, you will unlock different poses that are more effective for different types of enemies, you will have to learn to dodge and stop to defeat tougher enemies, and boss fights are often long and intense battles where you need to use all your knowledge and skills to have a chance.
The sword action is well balanced and playing the game on normal difficulty always felt fair and doable, as long as you take time out on side quests to unlock upgrades to your gear and skills.
Ghost of Tsushima, also has a very large world, with numerous icons and legends. The game also comprises a wide number of meaningless collectibles and also bonus rewards.
The missions themselves are structured primarily this way:
You summon your horse to go to a busy settlement or contested area, you take a place somewhere high to monitor the situation, you sneak up and kill as many guys as you can without alerting their friends, and when they discover you, you fight with swords until everyone is dead. Sounds familiar, right?
I wish combat wasn’t the only aspect that feels distinctive in Ghost of Tsushima, but apart from some cheesy side quests, it never rises above the level of a well-done Assassin’s Creed clone.
It could be argued that any game in the open-world genre will feel derived from its predecessors simply by the nature of the genre, but somehow titles like The Witcher 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, and even the infamous Sucker Punch games themselves were felt… Original and fresh. Tsushima’s ghost mostly doesn’t.
However, the original thing is that it doesn’t really matter as long as the game is good. I’d rather play a really good Assassin’s Creed clone than a game that aims to completely reinvent the genre, and it fails.
The same goes for Ghost of Tsushima. If you can ignore how derivative it is, you will surely enjoy this well designed, decent looking samurai simulator. Just don’t expect to see anything you haven’t seen yet.