Release Date : July 17, 2020
Developers : Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher : Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms : Playstation 4, Playstation 5
After their beautiful adventure with The Infamous series, SuckerPunch studio heads to the country of sunrise, and they presented a story from the ancient samurai era, especially during the Mongol invasion, on a small island called Tsushima. An action-adventure game starring Jin Sakai, a Japanese samurai who has become at a crossroads, between committing to the samurai’s code, and diverging to a new path, in order to eliminate an invading enemy that has wreaked his home and has slaughtered his own people.
“When we fight… We face our enemies face to face, and when we take their lives.. we look into their eyes directly with courage and respect, that’s what makes us samurai, only cowards attack from the shadows” those words are still repeated in Jin’s ear whenever he has to kill a Mongol silently or find himself sneaking into a coastal village in the night to end the control of the invaders on Tsushima Island.
He is well aware that what he’s doing is completely against the Samurai code that urges honor, courage, and facing enemies directly, but whenever he felt guilty or shamed by his actions that resemble thieves, the more he kept going on his quest without stopping after witnessing with his own eyes the brutal slaughter of his people and friends on the Komoda beach when the Mongols took advantage of the Samurai’s absolute loyalty to the rules and laws in eliminating them, so he decided to complete the journey of revenge that he had begun alone and to use every opportunity to terrorize his enemies, even as it cost him to turn into a ghost that his own people feared more than the Mongols themselves.
The game takes place during the period of the first Mongol invasion of Japan, which occurred in 1274, where the Mongol army began its first invasion on the island of Tsushima in order to control Japan, which is the supreme goal of the Mongol army, because it was the closest part of Japan that was accessible from Mongol ports in Korea, in addition to the importance of the island, since it has the perfect location for both trading and defending the rear of the Mongol’s army during the attempt to control the rest of the main islands in Japan. The game’s events take place precisely when on the arrival of Kotal Kahn (who portrays Kublai Khan, the true Mongol emperor who led the Mongol invasion across Asia and Japan in particular) to the shores of Tsushima Island so that he can quickly take control of the island and defeat the local ruler of the island, Lord Shimura, the uncle of our hero Jin Sakai.
After the crushing defeat of Jin Sakai and the capture of his uncle Shimura by Kotal Kahn, Jin embarks on a cruel adventure in order to save his uncle Shimura not only for the purpose of his love and deep attachment to him, but in order to return the hopes of all the residents of Tsushima Island, and starting counter-attack on the Mongol army and stopping the invasion and the progress toward the main islands of Japan. And for that Jin will have to find his surviving alies to help him save Shimura and free the island, but during this cruel journey, Jin will have many difficult choices, so will he continue to confront his enemies with the old means of the samurai, who are known for their honor and nobility? Or he will have to take a different approach and become another whole different person in order to succeed in bringing down this invasion and save his uncle and his people from the Mongol grip, which will put him in a moral crisis, both with himself and the principles he grew up on and even with those around him.
The story is divided into two parts, the first, which is the quiet and slow rhythm that characterizes the first half of the story, which was completely dependent on the character of Jin Sakai and focuses on his harsh past and through his conversations with many people that he tries to recruit and ask for their help to reach his main goal. Despite the slow narration that dominated the course of this half, but it is an introductory part to another half full of excitement and accelerated adrenaline rates, it can be said that the first part of the story was the quiet fire that the story needs in order to cook the second half of the story, which has seen a major shift like the different opinions about Jin’s actions that are considered against the samurai traditions, but with Jin holding on to his own point of view, this created a confusing ambiance that makes you unaware of which side you want to be aligned with? Is it the principles and traditions that describe the samurai community and their honorable goals in confronting their enemies by noble means? Or the path that Jin took in order to reach his goal, whatever the consequences.
The characters of the game starting from “Jin” and through to” Yuna” and “Shimura” and even the secondary characters had a great role in highlighting the story and contributed greatly to the construction of entertaining conversations that made me never feel bored from listening to them and skipping the scenes as it happens to many in other videogames, the characters here develop overtime during the story, and when you reach the end, they won’t be as they were at the beginning of the game, which is one of the things that made this game special.
Each one of these characters has its own goal, which Jin will have to help them achieve, some of them seeking revenge and throughout that journey, you find him gradually changing and realizing that revenge is not the best option for his cause, and some of them trying to find his stray and during that search journey, things begin to unfold about his intentions, whether they are right or just nonsense. Many of your allies have their own plans throughout your journey in the game and you will have to help them in order to gain their respect, and find them on your side when you need the help yourself in fighting the Mongols and saving Tsushima Island. Even when you complete the game and reach the dramatic ending you will see that there’s a big shift as I mentioned to these characters and their opinion about Jin / The Ghost who rose and back from death to save his people and free his home.
Now we move on to the most outstanding element of Ghost Of Tsushima and the most enjoyable throughout our long experience of the game, which is the gameplay that has given us a lot of unique and special ideas that many of us have always hoped for in other famous video games, and here is a studio that fulfills our requests during the events of its new game before reaching the end of the current generation. The fighting style of the game can be described as epic and before we talk more about it it, it’s possible to give you an example of the quality of the combat system in the game, of course, we all saw the fighting and sword duel during the events of The Witcher series, which was an experience that we have never seen on the screen, this also happens with this amazing game.
Fighting here is not only about waving the sword left and right and showing off your fighting skills, but it needs to study the timing of the right attack and dodging the enemy’s hits at the right time, maybe it’s a little like ” Sekiro ” because you are simulating the life of samurai who is very good at fighting with the sword, that’s why Sucker Punch studio had to highlight that detail during its game, which they certainly succeed in it, because the variety of enemies in the game forces you to diversify your playing style and methods and developing your character in order to unlock new skills, stances and throwables that help you keep up fighting against the fierce Mongols who use the most horrific and terrible ways in fighting and surround you with the largest number of enemies at the same time.
And since we mentioned ” Sekiro “, we can talk about one of the common factors in the fighting style between both games, which is the diversity of the enemy’s attacks, because they have two types of attack, the first is the normal attack that you can parry and launch an immediate counter-attack, the other is an irresistible attack and you must dodge it if don’t want it to inflict more damage to you, in addition to the endurance system and ability of the enemy’s blocks, which requires adjusting the timing of the attack in order to break their defense and damage them, but the annoying thing here during face-to-face combats is the annoying camera because the game does not have a lock-on system and sometimes you can’t get a better view during the fight of large numbers of enemies, but for me, I can consider it as a challenge to make the fighting more realistic and you never let the opponents surround you or you will get killed immediately, you need to think like a warrior to survive.
The game has a large tree of skills that you can activate for the points gained during the execution of either main tasks or side tasks and also the activities that you can perform while exploring the open world of the game, and these skills allow you to add more of the fighting abilities that help you fight against the big enemies in the advanced levels of the game, and that’s why you’ll always have to unlock these skills to keep up with harder enemies.
Besides the sword, the game offers you many different weapons that you can try to play with, whether the short bow, which is used to eliminate enemies near you, or the longbow for long-range attacks, and these bows can also be upgraded by many “Bow Smiths” scattered around the camps you open around Tsushima Island, and in order to develop these weapons, you will always have to look for supplies and materials. Also next to the arches you can use bombs, whether smoke bombs or the sticky ones that inflict more damage to the enemies and for distractions, there are some special tools such as musical instruments that make sounds to attract enemies in the other direction and give you the possibility of sneaking behind them and kill them silently.
The game also offers a combat system similar to the existing game ” Nioh “, where there are 4 stances, which are different ways to hold the sword, and you can unlock those stances by studying or killing the leaders of the camps. Each one of these stances is dedicated to facing a certain type of enemy, whether swordsmen with only the sword, or armored with medium armor, or spearsmen with long spears, and even the brutes with huge armor and weapons. Each one of those stances has its own skills tree that helps you to strengthen their powers and achieve greater damage on enemies and whenever you develop those skills you will feel more powerful and you will also have fun in fighting and switching between them quickly to eliminate the various enemies around you distinctively as if you are in real combat.
In addition to the direct combat system and the ” Stand of ” that you can call in front of your enemies, the game also gives you a completely different approach, which is the “ghost” way to which Jin is gradually turning, and the game offers a special stealth system that even surpasses some titles that are dedicated for this system, and of course, you can also upgrade your stealth skills, like the possibility of hearing the steps of enemies and knowing their positions, or throwing “Kunai” faster and many different skills that provide a unique stealth experience, and this certainly helps the element of parkour in the game, where “Jin” can move smoothly whether during combats or jumping on enemies from above, or even moving between buildings and rocks to reach your destination, in addition to some tools that help you reach distant buildings and you will get those tools as you progress the game. So you have the complete freedom to either take direct attack mode and test your combat abilities or hide and sneak inside camps like a ninja in order to eliminate enemies one by one and perform the required missions and unlock those camps.
Since Sucker Punch studio announced that Ghost Of Tsushima would be an open-world game, many began to worry about falling into the trap of the empty world that contains only repetitive and boring activities like most of the open-world titles we have seen in the past couple of years, but finally, they were able to present an open world full of activities and side quests that are at least for me one of the best side quests I have seen in a video game because the design of those missions was very dependent on killing boredom completely, each mission has its own short story and a different course of events from the other and will make you want to perform one by one without getting bored even after spending so many hours just finishing those tasks, we didn’t get bored at all.
Because there are also some different tasks from the main and side tasks, which called “Legendary tasks”, which is story missions where you go in the trail of one of the Legends of Japan to search for a legendary weapon or perfect armor that helps you during your main journey, and you can find these tasks by listening to the tales of people in the game world and visiting various areas to talk about these legends and going on their trail with the “music” that tells you these stories in a special and very entertaining way.
Apart from those tasks that you can find by talking to the inhabitants around the island, you will also find various side activities that help you develop your character such as cutting the bamboo trees to test your skills abilities as a samurai, which is, by the way, is one of the famous arts of the Japanese and Samurai and your resolve increases by doing this activity, or finding fox dens that offer you additional places for spells that help you develop your increase the level of damage, and there are also the hot springs that help you restore your health and increase its level and there are many other activities that make you spend long hours within this amazing world. To find those activities, you will find question marks scattered throughout the map, but the game doesn’t have a mini-map it only relies on the wing to guide you and tell you which way you have to go once you locate the place on the main map.
And for the ease of navigating this big world, the game offers us the option of a horse that you can choose from the beginning of the game and even you can choose his name, and unlike the bad experiences that we have had with horses in many video games, here it was good and a bit realistic, he cannot jump from high slopes or stay in the middle of fighting with enemies and you will always find him running until the fight is over, You can also get new saddles for this loyal friend if you want to.
The game world is full of distinctive details and carries a great quality in terms of graphics and visual effects starting from the autumn trees with bright colors and passing the animals and diverse areas of the map. But I noticed that the design of the characters and their faces, was a bit strange and completely different from the first gameplay trailer that the game has and which was full of details, and also the strange lip movement during the conversations, which needed a little work to appear better than it was, but with the beauty of the game world, especially in the second half of the game, that present the large transformation that the Mongols on having left on the island, it provided us with a visually pleasing experience, even though we experienced it via the regular PlayStation 4.
We also enjoyed the special soundtrack during our experience of this title, whenever the music starts playing you find yourself stopping a little bit to absorb this creativity, I even started cutting that music from here and there to hear it again, the music was able to make you sympathize with “Jin” and the game world especially the ending of the game, which is much better marked by the calm melodies and music that played in the background of the ending scene and even throughout the game, and this is due to the great Japanese composer “Shigeru Umebayashi”, and the British “Ilan Eshkeri”.
After more than 60 hours of play inside Ghost Of Tsushima, I can say that it’s not only one of the best titles of the year, but it also deserves to become one of the best PlayStation 4 exclusives, because the game was able to provide an entertaining and exciting story simulating real events with some little differences that added the dramatic elements. The story had to be combined with unique and special gameplay that made me more related to the game, and even the open world that was worrying everyone was exploited in the best possible way by adding professionally designed side missions that make you spend more hours playing it without getting bored like the rest of the games. The graphics were amazing in general and the soundtracks are great too so I don’t think there are some additional things that you can expect from a video game, so for me, Ghost Of Tsushima was a real Masterpiece.