|Ghost of Tsushima|
|Developer||Sucker Punch Productions|
|Publisher||Sony Interactive Entertainment|
|release date||July 17, 2020|
|Genre||Adventure Action, Stealth Action|
The PlayStation 4 exclusive Ghost of Tsushima comes out on July 17th and will most likely be the last for this console. This is an action-adventure game about Japanese samurai developed by Sucker Punch, the authors of the inFamous series and one of the first games at the dawn of the current generation of Sony consoles — inFamous: Second Son.
I am not a fan of these creators and they always seemed to me to be something in between, although their creations were always on the level in terms of budget and scope. And after Second Son, I was even more surprised how they were entrusted with making an almost opening PlayStation 4 exclusive.
Naturally, after the announcement of Ghost of Tsushima, there were doubts about the game, but the exciting world of medieval Japan and the title of the final game of the generation were very attractive. “Well, the guys must have grown up and earned the trust of Sony,” I thought. After beating the game, there are almost no such thoughts left, but even so, Ghost of Tsushima is worth your attention. As always, the details are in the review.
1274. The Mongolian army attacks Japan. The capture begins from the island of Tsushima, hoping to gain a foothold here and make a springboard for subsequent raids on other parts of the country. Local samurai organize a rebuff to the Mongols, but all die, except for the main character named Jin Sakai. Given another chance, he decides to defeat the intruders by any means, even violating the samurai traditions of honor. But one in the field is not a warrior even in Japan, so Jin’s goal is to gather around allies in order to prevent the Mongol army led by General Khotun Khan from finally seizing his homeland.
The story of Ghost of Tsushima is based on real events, but for effect and in order not to scatter the attention of gamers too much on historical nuances, a number of simplifications were made to it, and the fight against the invaders and the moral transformation of the hero were made the main storyline.
All quests or tasks are called stories here. They are divided into main and additional, and the main branch does not sag in terms of the accuracy of events and voltage.
We spent time on the difficult experiences of the characters, added betrayals, intrigues, passions and other tools to create an addictive story. Revelations and deep meaning are not worth looking for here, but for a samurai adventure action game, it turned out to be interesting to follow the course of the story.
Most of the additional quests are also made at the level and reveal in detail the fate of the plot partners of the protagonist, whose support he is trying to enlist to fight the Mongols.
There are also some tasks related to Japanese mythology. In them, the hero learns superblow, gets the best weapon, costume, skill, and so on. Such stories are not marked in any way, so a sidequest taken from an old man near the road can famously spin into an exciting adventure with a miniboss and a unique reward. But there are also enough banal tasks where NPCs need to help free the family, drive out the Mongols, find items, and so on.
Jino Sakai does not have full-fledged partners, as in RPG. Depending on the mission, different characters help him with their own history, attitude to life and side quests, but there are no branching dialogues with elaboration.
Ghost of Tsushima focuses not only on combat and story, but also offers to explore a huge open world, divided into three regions. Because of this, most of the time the hero moves on a horse. It is offered to choose at the beginning of the game and you cannot change the horse. But if you wish, you can temporarily saddle the living creatures of the killed enemies.
The weather, mood and nature of Japan in the game varies depending on the terrain, so autumn leaf fall, snow, summer flowering fields, a hazy sea and, of course, cherry blossoms are available here. Naturally, the change of weather and time of day is dynamic.
Explore the world of Ghost of Tsushima will help natural compasses and marks on the ground. Did you see a fox? Follow her and she will lead you to a temple where you will pray for a weapon slot. Stones with bonuses are inserted into them. Is a bird flying? Is there a fire burning in the distance? Go there and meet a traveler who will tell a beautiful legend, tell news, or even issue a boring quest. Of course, there were some familiar question marks on the map — but unlike games about assassins or the same Witcher, there are no hints here, and the gamer will have to find out the details himself.
An interesting feature was the use of wind instead of a map. There are no compasses in the game interface — everything is concise and works for immersion. And to find out where to move in the selected task, just swipe up on the touchpad of the gamepad and the wind will indicate the direction.
It’s a fresh and handy idea that I’d like to see variations on in other open world projects. After all, you don’t need to often refer to the map or look at the compass in one of the corners — you just jump forward, enjoy the views and follow the wind.
The creators tried to make the world of Ghost of Tsushima alive and bright, but they did it so-so. Despite the abundance of quests, activities, camps captured by the Mongols that can be cleared, temples where they pray, springs where it is worth swimming and increasing health, travelers placed on the roads, enemy troops, craft villages, destroyed settlements, where peasants mourn the dead and try to restore economy, the island seems empty and lifeless with point manifestations of activities.
How it happened with such an abundance of opportunities — I don’t understand, but the persistent feeling that you are riding a horse, and there is nothing around for kilometers, does not let go throughout the entire passage.
Ghost of Tsushima isn’t a Sekiro-style hardcore game, but it just won’t be. Even at an average level, defeating five enemies at a time will not work the first time, and with the leader and a couple of archers, the task becomes even more difficult.
Combat is designed for blocking and retaliatory attacks — choose one of the proposed stances for a certain type of enemy (swordsmen, warriors with a shield, warriors with a lance, and so on), hold the block and attack in response.
With a successful parry at the last moment, the Mongol adversary can be killed with one spectacular blow. As an option, we wait out a series of attacks under the block and attack in response. But for this, you will also have to break through the enemy defense, indicated by a scale familiar from other games above the enemy. The enemy can also attack with super blows, indicated by red or blue flashes. The former can be easily dodged and immediately attacked from the side, while the latter will later be allowed to block by opening a special skill.
There are several development branches in Ghost of Tsushima, where it is worth investing the acquired skill points. They are also useful for opening racks, as well as stealth skills.
In theory, the game can be played without hiding or choose the path of stealth. In the first case, a killing machine will come out of Jin, capable of repelling everyone. In the second — a classic ninja, sneaking in the dark, jumping on enemies from the roof, slitting throats from the back and causing fear to everyone and everyone. Over time, when he appears, the Mongols will even panic and drop their weapons, which will help to quickly deal with a small detachment.
But in reality, you will have to use both options and it all depends on the type of mission or plot twist. Although in most cases they still let you play the chosen role and provide different abilities to complete the quest, this is more of a gamer’s choice, because by the end of the game you can pump almost all available branches and racks.
The roleplaying and direction of Jin is affected by the equipment and stones inserted into the weapon. Depending on the chosen costume, the character can be made more invisible to enemies, increase health, increase armor, and so on. For this, slots were created in the sword and dagger, where stones with the necessary bonuses are inserted. There are also special clothes for exploring the world, which helps to see hidden places, bonuses and other small but cool buns.
Regardless of the chosen path, the hero can throw incendiary bombs, daggers, smoke shells, sticky bombs, shoot from bows (short and long), climb mountains on a grappling hook, fight on a horse.
True, most of this turns out to be an optional and crooked addition to the main combat, and archery or throwing any of the types of bombs is made uncomfortable and annoying.
Judge for yourself. To shoot in Ghost of Tsushima, press L2 and then the character goes into a special mode where he can only do this. A menu appears in the lower left corner, where in real time you need to choose what we will shoot from or what to throw, and there are also types of shells, bombs and arrows. You need to pull the string by holding R2, and after a couple of seconds you need to press it again to shoot. After that, press L2 to exit shooting mode. In other games, like TLOU 2, this is much easier — select the default bow, press L2, draw R2 and release at the end for the most effective shot. Everything is simple and allows you to quickly engage in close combat.
As you can see, this element is overcomplicated and often does not help, but interferes with the skirmish with opponents. Therefore, you should not effectively use a bow or bombs in close contact, otherwise after a couple of seconds the hero will simply be cut down while you perform all these actions.
It is better to use additional weapons from a long distance or with stealth, as well as when the enemies are running in a crowd — this way you can stun them, set them on fire or even make a couple of kills, and then rush into the crowd and finish what you started. An exception to the rule is throwing knives, a smokescreen and a couple of other skills that allow you to set for quick use through the R1 button.
The coolest part of the game’s combat system for me was the one-on-one boss battles. Their roles are played by characters from history and side quests, seasoned Mongol wars, traitor samurai, and so on.
Such battles always take place in beautiful places and with the implementation of Japanese traditions that are often shown in the movies — static cutscenes against the background of falling leaves, opening the scabbard and slowly pulling out the katana, and so on. And the difficulty in duels is high, although fans of Souls games will seem like kindergarten. But in terms of texture and atmosphere, such skirmishes can give odds to almost everyone.
There is no full-fledged crafting of items. But there are loot and materials that you need to collect around the world to improve weapons and equipment. All this is customizable — the armor changes color (this will require paint from flowers), the appearance of the sword, scabbard, costumes, hats, masks, capes, bandages and even the horse’s harness and its saddle change. Nothing special, but it’s nice to customize the hero for yourself without convulsive and mandatory searches for resources — everything is collected in sufficient quantities during quests and along the way on the map.
Ghost of Tsushima is a beautiful game with bright landscapes and textured images of samurai dojos, cherry blossoms, Buddhist temples, rice fields and the sea. But something is wrong with the overall brightness — the developers seem to have unscrewed it to the maximum and added a gray-green palette for atmosphere.
Perhaps this was done on purpose to emphasize the supposedly historical real, but still magical world of feudal Japan. But it looks so strange and periodically cuts the eyes.
The overall quality of the graphics is excellent, although everything was much better on the first videos, the characters move naturally, not angularly, and the sword fights look spectacular and authentic, despite all the cinematic and staged mass battles.
The pre-release version of Ghost of Tsushima did not bug, slow down or close. Only sometimes the PlayStation 4 Slim console buzzed a little strong norms.
The sound is excellent, the localization is good, the voices are almost perfect, and for more immersion, they give you the choice of Japanese voice acting with Russian subtitles. For fans of Akiro Kurosawa’s work, there is even a black and white mode in the style of his films. The music is atmospheric and bewitching, but it does not work separately from the game and does not ask for a player.
Ghost of Tsushima is the best creation of Sucker Punch Studios, but like Days Gone, I don’t understand why it was given an exclusive status, let alone the last game in the current generation of Sony consoles. Alternatively, no one else wanted to release a game for fading game consoles, or everyone understood that the project turned out to be a strong middling game and would be perfect for the summer lull, because it would hardly be able to compete with other AAA games in the fall.
Ghost of Tsushima often borrows a lot from other popular games and does it skillfully, but without zest. There are almost no really new moments, like the wind showing the way, and the rest is in any Assassin’s Creed, the third Witcher, Tomb Rider, Horizon Zero Dawn, RDR2 and so on. In addition, there these elements worked much better and seemed natural.
At the same time, Ghost of Tsushima is not hardcore at all and is unlikely to attract the attention of fans of Sekiro and other projects. But it will be able to interest a casual gamer and, perhaps, will show good sales.
And yet, Ghost of Tsushima is a high-quality game with an interesting plot and a memorable antagonist, bright characters, spectacular, though not always convenient, combat, beautiful graphics, without glitches and minor annoyances.
This is a huge beautiful world, which, although it sometimes seems empty, is able to captivate for a couple of dozen hours and plunge you headlong into Japan of the 13th century. I wouldn’t buy it at launch and without a discount, but if you like the above franchises, as well as Japan from the time of the samurai, then Ghost of Tsushima is quite capable of becoming one of your favorite console games.