Review: Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima, the very latest Playstation Exclusive from Sucker Punch, is playable for almost everyone. Sony has provided us with an early review so we can finally tell you all about this open world Samurai game today! There is high hopes for the game, will Sucker Punch deliver on this?

Sucker Punch is back! This studio, known from Infamous, among others, comes up with something that is largely outside their comfort zone. Ghost of Tsushima is an open world game with a focus on story, combat and exploration. These are therefore the three biggest pillars for this review. However, the game has more to offer than that, so there's a lot more to tell about this title. Let's start with the launch trailer that appeared on the world wide web yesterday:

Dialogue

Let's face it: I never start a review by judging the dialogues in a game. However, you can't ignore the fact that a lot of love has been put into this game. I started the game and from the moment I heard protagonist Jin Sakai speak, I lost myself for a few seconds. The character with which you will play this game has a fairly well-known voice actor from the anime world for the Japanese voice: Kazuya Nakai. This legendary voice actor is known, among other things, for the voice acting of Roronoa Zoro from One Piece. Sucker Punch only decided later in development to have the game recorded in Japanese. So you see something here that you will rarely come across: You will lip-read the game in English if you set it to Japanese. Normally this would soon be the other way around.That is precisely why it is so incredibly clever that the Japanese dialogues are so incredibly well spoken. If I may be so bold as to say that I liked the Japanese dialogues better than the English ones, I'll do this one.

The same goes for sound. Every piece of music has been composed with time, attention and love and can therefore be heard at the moments where it is needed. The climax at the end of Act 1 had so much more impact because of the music playing in the background controlling the shivers through my body. The same goes for ambient sounds such as birds chirping and foxes screeching for your attention. Why do these animals do that? Let's come back to that later!

Story

Jin Sakai is a Samurai from Tsushima. At least, he starts the game as a Samurai in a land opened up by a war with the Mongols. You start the game with Jin who loses the war to Khotun Kan along with his uncle Shimura. You, the sole survivor, soon find out that your uncle is still alive. So it is up to you to start the revolution that will take the country back from the Mongols. This sounds like a simple plot, but the game is much, much more than that.

Without revealing anything about the storyline, I can confidently say that this is the first open world game that grabbed me by the throat since The Witcher 3. Here too you notice time, attention, love and attention in the open world. of course the budget that the game has. Every dialogue has an impact, every person has a story.

There is a lot to do in the world of Tsushima and every side quest is well thought out. You have the feeling that you are traveling around in a real dynamic world to put everything back in its place. Nothing feels game-y to play, it all feels quite organic. But not only the side quests are well thought out, the main story grabs you by the throat more often than you would think at the beginning. The story also builds up at a good speed. It doesn't feel too fast, or too slow, but just as it should be. The characters you meet build a bond with you, and you're going to really like most of them. I especially liked Yuna personally, as well as her dynamics with Jin

Tsushima

The world you find yourself in is, as I said, immense. The map shows 3 major continents to play through. You can actually play the main story almost completely without playing too much side content, whether you want to is another matter. The side content is very diverse. You have side quests and 'Tales' to play. These Tales are short to medium-length storylines that revolve around the story of a specific character. You can see in the map where this character is located and also see how far you are in his or her storyline. Sucker Punch knows that this world is big and that's why you choose your own horse at the beginning of the game, he can whistle at you anywhere and will really come running right next to you.

There are also Fox Temples and Hot Springs, where you will be led by the animals in the world of Tsushima. This is where the world feels largely organic and dynamic as well. However, this is also caused by the 'hints' you get when you target specific NPCs. Every time you enter a village, camp or temple, there are new people with new hints. These hints will then appear on your map as question marks. All these short dialogues are also recorded. You go everywhere with a purpose and sometimes you come across cool things unexpectedly.

You will have to take back the camps or temples that have been taken over by the Mongols. There are certain ways to do this, but you are completely free. In such a camp there is a leader, kill him and possibly do the extra objectives to liberate such a camp. 

There are also plenty of collectibles to find, something I like to see as an RPG fan! You will soon notice that the game does not have a mini-map. You work with a kind of Guiding Wind. You can summon this wind by swiping over your controller. But, make sure you swipe up or else Jin will bring out the recorder! This wind constantly gives you a sense of direction and this also contributes to making Tsushima immersive. The UI is smart and minimalistic and it works perfectly. I was afraid of the open world in this game, considering it might be the biggest project ever for Sucker Punch. I have to say, I was thoroughly amazed with every hour I played. There's so much more to do that I haven't talked about, so be sure to find out for yourself!

Fashion Nova

You feel like a true fashionista in Ghost of Tsushima. There are plenty of outfits and skins to unlock in the game. These skins are mainly color schemes for your outfits. However, your weapons can get fatter looks. Many of these skins you will unlock, get through the Gift system or discover in the world. You can see the outfits found on your missions on the map. When you go over a quest you see what the rewards will be. But, outfits aren't just for looks. In fact, every outfit has its advantages. For example, I am a big fan of the Traveler's Attire. This will make your controller vibrate when you get close to a collectible. There are outfits that give benefits to Archery, Combat, Armor and so on! This makes combat more dynamic than expected.

Combat

Something that most cared about was the combat. I can tell you, this one is awesome. There is a lot to talk about in this aspect. When the open world bored me at times, it was the combat that kept it interesting. You can play the game as Ghost, Samurai or a combination of both. The Ghost Ways is obviously your shortcut. Here you will use gadgets such as smoke bombs, Kunai and sticky bombs. You can also make stealth kills here, which are nice and brutal. Sneaking in this game feels fantastic in combination with the climbing. The climbing is very smooth, something that sometimes had its flaws in a game like Assassin's Creed.

The Samurai way is to challenge your enemies head-on. There are two ways to do this. The first is a standoff. Here your screen gets cinema bars and you start playing in a kind of cut scene. You will face your enemy in a duel. Be patient, because when your enemy moves his arm, you cut him in two pieces of Mongolian flesh. The second way is just running in. The head-on combat feels extremely fluid and has never bored me. This way of fighting already feels like a mini-game in itself. You can parry, attack head-on, block or dodge and counter. However, enemies don't take turns to attack you, so you'll have to react quickly.

There are several enemy types and Jin has his ways to counter them. This way you unlock 4 stances throughout the game, each of which has a positive effect against the weaknesses of some enemies. Also, these stances all play differently. There are a lot of skills and special attacks to unlock. Of course I won't let you know every skill, that would ruin the experience! The game is also really not an easy task and will constantly challenge you. Also in the Duels that you will encounter through the storyline are very spicy! I dare say that I like this combat better than the one in God of War, something I wouldn't think so quickly. But here too the weather is so extensive. You see Jin struggling with himself when he makes kills that are dishonorable, so you also get a deeper bond with Jin as the protagonist.

Your bow and arrow are good at driving up enemy camps, for example you can activate bee nests by shooting an arrow through them, or drop a torch on the grass, which sets everything on fire. But, you can also use this high grass for shortcuts, since you will not be seen in this. Every fortress has its weaknesses. A rock running across the wall? A hole in a wooden wall? No problem, Jin can make very good use of this. Overdue maintenance can therefore have advantages, for us that is! In any case, use your environment well. You are not only a weapon, but you can also play tactically. Sometimes you have to be patient for this.

The world contains many merchants and armorers, to provide Jin with the best equipment. At first I thought there were only 5 outfits, until I found more and more merchants and came across missions. You can upgrade all of these outfits, as well as your weapons, at the appropriate NPCs in each village, camp or temple. The combat is perhaps the coolest thing in the entire game and at times when I was bored for a while, it was the combat that kept the game interesting! You will also find a kind of traveling salesman, who offer your skins opposite four-leaf clovers.

Jin is a good traveler, because this man can climb like no other. With the right tools, like a grappling hook, no mountain is too high for this Ghost. Every shrine you climb up and every building you jump over just feels really cool. 

Graphics and performance

Ghost of Tsushima is a very beautiful game. The world is truly breathtaking. Every area, village or camp has its own unique setting. Despite that, it still feels like a big world with a strong guideline. Running through flower fields, horseback riding through golden forests and climbing along steep mountains is fantastic and again I can't fault it. It's a game where every corner has something cool to see. The performance was also smooth. Even on the regular PS4, it's exactly as you'd expect.

Stylish

Ghost of Tsushima is not only a beautiful game, but also a stylish title. From the outfits and character designs to the way of design in menus. These menus are super clear and do not revolve around anything. A game also has cool cinematics, which sometimes use cinema bars to really give you the feeling of a classic Samurai movie. The game knows exactly when to do this or not. However, the graphic design in this game fits perfectly with the set theme and that also ensures that seamless experience. Sure, the game has some bugs here and there, but even here I often just had to laugh. It is an immense world and a very long game that has received a lot of attention, so you will sometimes encounter teething problems.

This theme is also reflected in the photo modes. Here you can completely edit a scene from the particles to the weather and lighting. These photo modes are always welcome, as are games like Spider-Man and The Last of Us: Part II. About those particles, you will often encounter these in-game. Riding through the golden forest on your trusty horse always feels like an aesthetic experience with falling leaves and sometimes very dense fog banks.

Verdict

Well. It goes without saying that Ghost of Tsushima is a great closing of this generation for Sucker Punch, as well as for Sony's exclusive line-up. It's a fine piece of work from a studio that has never been able to make these kinds of games so great. A lot of time, attention and love has been put into this game and you notice that with every second of playing time. I recommend this game to every PS4 player! The game is stylish, plays smoothly and looks great. No, it's not a groundbreaking open world game that throws the whole formula upside down. But, it does what an open world game should do, with minimal room for improvement. I never would have dreamed that this game would become so strong.

 

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