As we approached the twilight of Playstation 4 generation, Ghost of Tsushima offers a refreshing change of pace from last month The Last of Us Part 2. Where Naughty Dog's divisive adventure tends to be a thought-provoking vision of revenge madness, the new Sucker Punch release looks wonderfully uncomplicated. It is the true escapism of video games, and we love it.
Entering the armor of Jin Sakai, a clan leader, Ghost of Tsushima wastes no time in getting started. In the face of the Mongol invasion on the main island of Tsushima, Sakai and his samurai companions are defeated by the fierce race of warriors.
Broken, beaten and narrowly escaping death, Jin must gather the warriors left on the island to lead the fight against the mortal Khotun Khan and his companions. It's a pretty basic setup, but Ghost of Tsushima's commitment to the setting and the characters makes this revenge trip worthwhile.
Jin himself is a man raised with a sense of honor as his only constant, and seeing his equally offensive samurai brothers cut him off to question his unwavering loyalty to the ideal. Likewise, the secondary characters broaden our hero's spectrum of beliefs.
This is also playable. Throughout history, Jin has gone from being a "relatively inexperienced" sword bearer to a swirling dervish of death and fire, learning more stealthy ways to dispatch enemies.
This is achieved through "Tales", the game's approach to story missions. This allows Jin to increase his "legend" and receive new skills and new advantages through a skill tree in the game. At first it seems that there is nothing revolutionary in the system that we haven't seen in many third-person action titles before, but once Jin unlocks several positions with which to fight enemies, it soon becomes imperative to learn everything he can.
The combat itself also begins as a basic triangle of light or heavy attacks and blocking, but it doesn't take long for Jin to dodge unlockable attacks or try to break an enemy's position to deliver the fatal blow. Sekiro is not, but when combined with postures that work best against certain enemies, there are still many challenges to be faced.
A special mention also of the mechanic "Standoff" of the game, which allows Jin to challenge his opposition to an individual duel. Grasp the triangle and drop it at the right time to kill a Mongolian attacker with a large dose of arterial spray never gets old.
Of course, entering an enemy camp and killing everyone with your sword may seem great, but there is an incredible sense of satisfaction in eliminating enemies before they know you are there. Jin is agile, able to scale areas quickly, roll behind the lid and slide through small ventilation openings to avoid detection, and archery and distraction techniques, such as fireworks, really stand out.
In Jin's duality between his sense of honor and his desire for revenge, Ghost of Tsushima becomes the type of game that can easily be played twice. Both sword and stealth combat are equally viable, and this is a difficult line to walk.
In many ways, Ghost of Tsushima looks like a natural evolution of the Assassin & # 39; s Creed franchise before turning into RPG territory. There are some RPG elements, including charms that increase stats and upgradeable equipment (along with the aforementioned skill tree), but most of the time Ghost of Tsushima is perfect for fans of the Ubisoft franchise who don't want to climb level to be able to kill an enemy.
The island itself is breathtaking, both in size and beauty, from the sanctuaries hidden on top of the mountains to the leaves swirling in vibrant forests. Much of the island's color comes from its foliage, with the soil and grass silenced, helping use the game's HDR to really appear on compatible screens.
It is also a joy to explore; much of the forty to fifty hour campaign offers general guidance, but no firm direction. Instead, Jin must turn to the wind (with a tap on the Dualshock 4 touchpad) to identify the direction of his next destination. If that sounds like a trick, you're right to be skeptical, but in practice, it allows players to stumble across much of the interesting (and often challenging) side content in the game.
Special mention should also be given to the dubbing of the game. Although playing in English seems to be great, it is recommended to choose the Japanese voice track with subtitles. Not only does this increase the game's authenticity, but several hits in the story seem much more emotional in Jin's native language.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the appreciation of the game for classic Japanese cinema, in particular the works of Akira Kurosawa. Although the "Kurosawa Mode", which eliminates the color of the game, is undoubtedly beautiful in its own way, we find ourselves returning to see the game's impressive colors. That said, the legendary filmmaker's influence can be felt in almost every frame, with parts of the story resembling Frankenstein's monster from his most famous works.
After last month's emotionally emotional The Last of Us Part 2, and with the endless possibilities of Cyberpunk 2077 on the horizon, we fell in love with Tsushima and its inhabitants. It is indisputable that he doesn't do much new things, but everything he does, he does with the kind of panache that would make Kurosawa proud. This quest for revenge may not defy your expectations, but there is no denying the amount of fun to be enjoyed off the coast of Japan.
Ghost of Tsushima will be released exclusively for PlayStation 4 on Friday, July 17, for £ 49.99.