Killer katana action, as Ghost of Tsushima sunsets the PS4

ByGerald Lynchlast updated 12 October 21


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Ghost of Tsushima is an engrossing, blood-soaked and beautiful open world game, and a fitting swan-song for the PS4, even if it"s lacking in some places in originality.

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I’ve never played a game before that rewards you for writing a haiku poem, but that’s exactly what Ghost of Tsushima does.

The long-awaited PS4 exclusive not only lets you live out your samurai dreams, slicing và dicing bandits & invaders alike, but also lets you fully inhabit the feudal Japanese setting that acts as its stage.


What the trò chơi lacks in originality overall it makes up for with an impeccable commitment khổng lồ respectfully rendering this historical era, resulting in a stylish smorgasbord of the best ideas seen in open-world gaming this generation, & a fitting swan-song khổng lồ the PlayStation 4.


Ghost of Tsushima price, release date & key facts

What is it? An open-world samurai epic from the makers of InfamousRelease Date? July 17, 2020Price? From $59.99/£49.99/AU$69

Tsushima island is a joy



(Image credit: Sucker Punch Productions/Sony)Expertly realized settingInnovative navigation guidesImmersive heads-up display

Set in the year 1274, Ghost of Tsushima puts you in control of Jin Sakai, the only samurai to lớn survive a brutal attack from an invading Mongol horde, led by Khotun Khan, grandson of Ghengis. The island of Tsushima has been ravaged by the invaders – farms are left burning, bodies lay strewn across the countryside, bandits take advantage of villages’ battered defences, và Lord Shimura (Jin’s uncle và the governor of the island) has been captured. As Jin, it’s up to lớn you to lớn recruit a rag-tag bunch of allies to force the Mongols back, and use both your samurai training and ninja-like stealth to lớn conduct a guerrilla war against the aggressors.


If you’ve played any open-world games in the wake of The Witcher 3, be that Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’ll know exactly what khổng lồ expect from Ghost of Tsushima. Starting with just the most basic of weaponry và attacks, Jin will become a more accomplished samurai as he explores the map, earning better weapons & armor, and improved powers by exploring shrines, finding rejuvenating hot springs, & liberating encampments from Mongol troops, as well as navigating the twist-laden main story.

It’s a huge game, with more activities và distractions than can be succinctly listed here. Ghost of Tsushima is filled with tasks at every turn, but does well to hide the box-ticking bản đồ icon checklist that other games in the genre fall foul of.

"Guiding Wind is a great way to lớn maintain a minimal HUD và keep you immersed in the kích hoạt without making you feel lost."

This is in huge part down to lớn its innovative exploration tools. Though you have access lớn a fog-of-war obscured world map, there’s no minimap or compass when you’re outside of menus. Instead, you have khổng lồ make use of visual clues around the landscape khổng lồ find points of interest, and make use of a ‘Guiding Wind’ that can direct you to lớn tracked locations as you clamber up mountainsides và wade through sodden rice fields.

It’s a great feature – mark an objective or spot on the map, and when you’re in the trò chơi the direction of the wind instead acts as a visual compass. If trees sway left, your destination lies lớn the west, for instance, while a column of smoke blowing towards you would indicate you need to lớn make an about turn, whether on foot or on your trusty horse that accompanies you throughout the game.

With long grass abundant, smoke plentiful & leaves kicking up in a bluster, it’s a great way lớn maintain a minimal HUD and keep you immersed in the action without making you feel lost. And, when no obvious destination presents itself, the wildlife of the island comes into play – golden birds fly towards the vicinity of secret locations, while foxes leave their dens lớn guide you khổng lồ the location of buff-rewarding Inari Shrines. And, yes, you can pet the fox.

Killer katanas & smoke bomb stealth



(Image credit: Sucker Punch Productions/Sony)Precise và satisfying sword playStealth options well implementedA skill tree that matters

If exploration is one chip core pillar of the game, the second would be combat. It’s swift, articulate, blood-thirsty, & challenging, but also empowering. As a weak Jin early in the game, even a lowly rag-wearing bandit can make mincemeat of you, but familiarity with its systems & the enhancements unlocked across the course of your adventure will have you wielding a katana lượt thích a master swordsman.

"There’s a lot of combat in Ghost of Tsushima, so it’s a relief lớn say it remains fun throughout."

As you’d expect then, swordplay is a major component of combat, and it’s pulled off incredibly satisfyingly here. Many encounters kick off with a ‘Stand Off’ – a bit like a do-or-die game of sword-swinging chicken, where you’ll eye up an opponent & wait for the exact moment when khổng lồ make a deadly first strike, just like in classic samurai films.

Once surrounded, however, you’ll have khổng lồ be more methodical in your approach. Jin will gain access khổng lồ heavy and light attacks, dodges, blocks & parries, và each of these can be modified by one of a number of different fighting stances, accessed by holding down R2 và hitting a corresponding face button, và each vital to lớn taking on different sorts of opponents. Breaking the guard of a heavy-hitting giant foe requires a different stance khổng lồ sizing up against a swift spearman for instance, & learning each enemy’s strength or weakness is vital to lớn winning a fight.

Successful actions in combat build a ‘Resolve’ meter that can be spent to heal Jin, or pull off powerful attacks unlocked later in the game, while completing missions & taking on exploration challenges around the bản đồ can also unlock charms which can be added lớn your weapons to lớn improve your stats and skills. There’s a lot of combat in Ghost of Tsushima, so it’s a relief khổng lồ say it remains fun throughout.



(Image credit: Sucker Punch Productions/Sony)

An alternative approach, however, is always available, and Jin is just as adept at being the stealthy, sneaky ‘Ghost’ ninja that the game’s title alludes to. There’s the de rigueur detection meters và now-standard ‘enhanced listening’ view that lets you track và spot enemies with a red outline even when obscured by obstacles, as well as one-hit assassinations if you creep up on an unsuspecting enemy.

Ghost of Tsushima’s stealth sections are almost always optional, but always enjoyable too – there are plenty of hiding spaces from which khổng lồ plan an attack, lots of verticality lớn camps from which khổng lồ survey enemy patrols, & a good arsenal of ranged weapons khổng lồ use to distract or dismember, from explosive arrows shot from your bow lớn wind chimes and smoke bombs.

With stealthy moves a ‘dishonorable’ approach based on his samurai code, Jin often despairingly narrates these attacks – though they are sometimes vital. Hostage situations, for instance, quickly turn sour if Jin doesn’t remain undetected.



(Image credit: Sony)

Defeating enemies in combat or taking on story missions will eventually award you with a ‘Technique Point’ which can be spent in a skill tree. It’s relatively expansive, but not overwhelming, and it’s great that every unlocked skill feels like it has a meaningful impact on the way you can play the game. It’s worth noting too that you’re never forced down a samurai or ninja path – you can mix & match skills khổng lồ your preferred play style.

Samurai side quests and lore-filled locations


(Image credit: Sony)Tons of side content to exploreLots of variety in gameplayMythic Quests are a highlight

The roads of Tsushima are dangerous & surprisingly busy, but very few encounters are merely for the sake of more combat. Often, coming across a group of wandering bandits or Mongols will be accompanied by the rescue of a civilian prisoner – freeing them and having a quick chat will mở cửa up new points of interest on the map, from collectibles khổng lồ stat-increasing shrines, side-missions và Mongol camps. They’re all varied và enjoyable diversions.

You can build your Resolve, for instance, by slicing bamboo training sticks with a quick-tapping-button-order memory game, find high-powered charms by navigating treacherous paths khổng lồ Shinto Shrines like in a platform game, or unlock cosmetic items by taking a moment khổng lồ write a haiku at points of natural beauty across the map. The world is littered with collectibles throughout, from resources that can be exchanged for upgrades at merchants, khổng lồ records và artifacts that reveal more about the cultures và traditions of the two warring factions.

Some of the best moments of all, aside from the show-stopping main quest battles, come in the form of Mythic Quests – multi-part missions hidden across the bản đồ that reward you with high-powered goodies such as rare armor or special moves. They’re tied lớn legendary warriors from Tsushima’s past that you can find out about by listening khổng lồ musicians and storytellers on your travels (presented with lovely calligraphy-style animations).

Each is distinct and worth tracking down, & could have you pitted against master warriors in boss-battle duels, scouring the island with a landmark-guiding treasure map, or infiltrating heavily guarded encampments. They’re not to lớn be missed, not least of all because the rewards are often incredibly powerful.

Kurosawa style, but not so much soul


(Image credit: Sony)One of the best-looking PS4 games, everLead character is a bit charmlessCaptures the feel of classic samurai cinema excellently

Much has been written about the influence of Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai films on Ghost of Tsushima, and even beyond the black-and-white ‘Kurosawa Mode’ in-game filter, which recasts the colourful landscapes in monochrome shades & film-grain noise, it’s plain to lớn see. From tense one-slice-kill standoffs lớn the smokey, burned-out ruins of destroyed castles và temples, the trò chơi plays lượt thích an interactive Kurosawa film. It’s breathtakingly realized – you’ll truly feel lượt thích a samurai as you play.

Jin"s tale of redemption and revenge is carried more excitingly by the theming và set pieces than his personality.

What’s a shame then is that, in terms of the human elements of the tale, developers Sucker Punch seem lớn have drawn from Kurosawa’s more dour films like ‘Ran’ than the energetic & madcap gallery of characters found in, say, ‘Seven Samurai.’

With a couple of exceptions, notable for the glint of comic relief they bring, everyone in Ghost of Tshushima is just so serious, all the time. Yes, horrible atrocities are going on around them, but without a little levity as contrast it becomes hard khổng lồ care about the plight of Jin & his associates.

Jin, for instance, will divide players. He’s every inch the classic samurai – stoic, honorable, but... A little bit humorless. He’s more Altair than Ezio. Torn between his samurai tradition, requiring him lớn face opponents head-on, & a ruthless new enemy that obliterates all but the most stealthy & cunning of adversaries, Jin must decide whether honoring the past is more important than saving the lives of those in the present. As a result, he’s always very serious, if not serene, và his tale of redemption and revenge is carried more excitingly by the theming & set pieces than his personality.

But what phenomenal world-building this is to be had here. The ‘Assassin’s Creed: nhật bản Edition’ jibes vày ring true as you play, but, that’s no bad thing at all – Ubisoft games are applauded for their attention to historic detail, và Ghost of Tsushima is every bit their equal when it comes to lớn presentation. From the plucks of the Koto to the twang of the Shamisen, Tsushima is lushly orchestrated và beautifully rendered, with red & golden maple leaves cascading around Jin from fort khổng lồ shrine, hot spring lớn temple. Tsushima is constantly in motion, rolls of grass bending with the swish of a katana & fireflies lighting canopy-covered, stoney forest paths. Playing on a PS4 Pro, performance is consistently solid, with no sign of slowdown or stutter, even with 4K HDR visuals in play. Mileage may vary with the base console, however.

Verdict


(Image credit: Sucker Punch Productions/Sony)

Familiarity with the open-world genre may breed contempt here, though. We’re truly spoiled.

Ghost of Tsushima’s individual components build to a satisfying whole, & its historical world is a wonder khổng lồ explore và among the best we’ve ever seen visually.

But its side stories aren’t quite as compelling as The Witcher 3, its systems less playful and experimental than Breath of the Wild, its world less convincingly alive than Red Dead Redemption 2 và its scale less ambitious than Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

Each of these contemporaries had their own failings, of course, and Ghost of Tsushima is admirable & attractive for being consistent và fun to play throughout. You can, và will, chiến bại dozens upon dozens of hours khổng lồ its engaging, blood-soaked combat và wondrous, mystery-filled landscape. Just don’t expect Ghost of Tsushima khổng lồ break the open-world mold.


Gerald is the Executive Editor for truthan.vn, taking care of the site"s trang chủ cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment & audio output. He loves gaming, but don"t expect him to lớn play with you unless your console is hooked up lớn a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Based out of truthan.vn Towers, London, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the tác giả of "Get Technology: tăng cấp Your Future", published by Aurum Press.

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