BY DEAN MOSES
Game: Ghost of Tsushima
Platform: PlayStation 4
Rating: M for Mature
The samurai have been the basis of a wide variety of classic Japanese cinema which tell beautiful, sweep-ing tales of romanticized warriors. Yet when it comes to the world of video games we have been treated to very few titles that have captured the same artistic treatment found in films like Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood, that is until now with the release of Ghost of Tsushima for the PlayStation 4.
A Samurai Tale Fit for Cinema
Thirteenth century Tsushima Island is under siege from the Mongolian army. Alongside his fellow samurai, Jin Sakai rides to Komoda beach to meet the invaders in battle. The Samurai commander
is captured while Jin is left for dead in the battle’s wake. But like a vengeful ghost in a samurai tale fit for cinema, Jin rises again to save his lord and free Tsushima island from its captures. Along the way he will meet a host of warriors and intriguing characters who aid in the fight for redemption. However, in order to overcome these blood-thirsty foes who significantly out-number him, he may have to sacrifice his honor.
The gameplay here offers a wide variety of options when it comes to defeating enemies. You can sneak up on Mongolian soldiers and slit their throats or penetrate a sliding door with your sword to kill the individual on the other side without making a sound. Then there is the much louder, much messier way.
Ghost of Tsushima employs a fantastic sword combat system that has a steep learning curve but is unrivaled in terms of satisfaction once mastered. There are four unlockable stances that each work well against a certain criteria of opponent. For instance, the wind stance is effective against spearmen while the stone stance is best used when battling swordsmen. Upon first facing off against enemies you may become frustrated but after spending some time with the com-bat system and upgrading Jin’s abilities through his skill tree, things will soon grow easier.
Another way of upgrading Jin is through finding shrines by following foxes or participating in mini games like cutting bamboo canes in half or composing a haiku. There are also new outfits to discover by engaging in side-missions like venturing up mountains or clearing out forts taken over by the Mongolians. There is plenty to do and best of all it doesn’t get stale.
Art of the Moving Image
Tsushima Island is breathtaking to behold. The world is akin to a watercolor painting come to life. The colors are some of the most vibrant you will see on the console, not to mention the most pleasing to the eye. Leaves fall from trees, wind blows, rain falls, storms rage, and lightning fill up the sky with vivid streaks. Developer Sucker Punch productions knew how glorious the game they created looked too, so much so that they even created an in-game photo mode allowing you to create your own stunning images before sharing them with friends. This really is art of the moving image.
A few weeks ago, I swore that The Last of Us Part 2 could well be the PS4’s last masterpiece before the release of the upcoming PlayStation 5. Well, I was wrong. Ghost of Tsushima ticks all of the boxes that makes a masterpiece. We have stunning visuals, compelling narrative, and an entertaining gaming experience.