Ghost of Tsushima Review

August 4, 2020

Ghost of Tsushima has long been one of the most anticipated PlayStation 4 games. Developer Sucker Punch has previously worked on series such as Infamous but this change in direction has fans excited. It is the latest title in what has been a resurgence for single-player games. But just how does it compare to competitors such as Marvel’s Spider-Man and The Last of Us Part 2? The truth is that Ghost of Tsushima is yet another great action-adventure game for the PS4 that demands attention.

Story

Ghost of Tsushima gets its name from Tsushima Island, the location where the action takes place. Set in the late 13th century, the story focuses on a samurai warrior named Jin Sakai. The fighter is the last of his clan and works with a variety of allies to battle Kublai Khan and his Mongol forces. Starting as an honorable samurai, the narrative sees Jin evolve as he seeks to do the right thing. Through recruiting residents of Tsushima, he begins to use unconventional techniques and tactics to battle the Mongols invading his home.

Ghost of Tsushima strikes a good balance between being a realistic historical account and an entertaining fictional story. Jin’s adventure is not something that actually happened. But the overall narrative gives a good overview of the conflict and the major forces involved. It also has plenty of exciting moments and digs deep into samurai culture. There’s a great chance that you’ll come away from Ghost of Tsushima feeling satisfied with the plot because of this.

It also attempts to tell an emotional story. While it is not always successful, Ghost of Tsushima tries to dig deep into the character of Jin. The developers clearly wanted players to become invested in Jin’s character transformation as he becomes the Ghost. There are certainly some moments where this works and you get a glimpse of the turmoil that the samurai is suffering. However, this is rare and the title fails to make you emphasize with the characters. That’s disappointing, but doesn’t take away from the positive aspects of the rest of the story too much. 

Gameplay

The combat in Ghost of Tsushima is incredibly varied. In fact, there are so many different techniques and attacks to use that players are sure to find one that works for them. As Jin’s legend grows, even more abilities are unlocked, providing the freedom to play as you want. Matching the dual nature of the character’s personality, the combat also has various styles. There are traditional samurai techniques, which tend to be more defensive, as well as ghost moves. These involve more stealth-based attacks that you might find in Assassin’s Creed games. Being able to switch between the different stances works well and keeps things feeling interesting and fresh.

Compared to the various combat styles, the weapons in this game are surprisingly simple. Although there are some extra items to supplement your capabilities, the majority of the action revolves around just your sword and bow. The developers have managed to capture the essence of what it must have been like to use a samurai sword. Fights alternate between slow and careful duels to frantic battles. Often, the action can feel like you are only just in control, with the flurry of moves being overwhelming. However, things never feel as if they completely slip away from your grasp. Meanwhile, swapping between different stances adds a layer of strategy to the proceedings that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

Outside of combat, Ghost of Tsushima incorporates several engaging gameplay hooks. Exploration plays a major role in the game and there’s a lot of motivation to go out and see the world. For example, listening to enemies can help you plan assaults and choose the best strategy. Stealth mechanics also come into play, providing opportunities for Jin to be less honorable and more practical.

Presentation

Only a few words are necessary to describe the presentation in Ghost of Tsushima. It is simply stunning. The landscapes are beautiful to behold, with each environment detailed and lush. Out of the many titles released over the last few years, Ghost of Tsushima is one of the most striking. Looking out over the world leads to images that could easily make great posters at every single turn. In particular, the lighting and shadows are a work of art that is more impressive than almost any other game.

Technically, Ghost of Tsushima also runs well. There are some noticeable drops in the frame rate during frantic moments. However, they are far from game-breaking and don’t cause any real issues. Lightning-fast load times as well as a lack of bugs and glitches make this a smooth title to play. Of course, the samurai title is also pretty exceptional in the sound department. A great soundtrack accompanies every action while there are lots of superb sound effects. 

Final Verdict

2020 has been something of a vintage year for the PlayStation 4. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a string of high profile releases for the console. It is almost as if the hardware is having a great swansong before being replaced in the coming months.

Ghost of Tsushima is another example of that pattern. Although it does have some drawbacks, it is without a doubt an exceptional game. The title is also one of the most satisfying to play, largely thanks to the sword-based melee combat. Few games manage to feel quite so impactful or make you feel like a true fighter. Ultimately, Ghost of Tsushima is a must-play that everyone with a PlayStation 4 should try out.

Category: Reviews

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In this article

Developer:
Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher:
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms:
Genres:
Release:
July 17, 2020

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