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Gaming Review

Ghost of Tsushima: PS4’s Swan Song That Hits All The Right Notes

Release date: 17 July 2020

Platform: PS4

Developer: Sucker Punch

Publisher: Sony Interactive

The good:

  • Beautiful visuals, soundtrack, and story telling
  • Kickass duels to keep you on your toes
  • Petting foxes

The bad:

  • A bleak beginning to its last act

 

Assassin’s Creed. But make it Japanese. A lesson in history, with rivetingly beautiful geography, Ghost of Tsushima is a feast for the eyes that captures the heart of samurai fantasy. One that immerses you in an authentic, beautiful, and satisfying journey on the island of Tsushima, during the 13th Century Mongol invasion of Japan. What starts off with one catastrophic battle will leave you wanting more with its multiple endings.

Beautiful storyline. Colourful characters.

Though slow to start, the plot catches on fairly quickly as Jin, the survivor of the Mongol invasion attempts to rescue his uncle, Lord Shimura from captivity. As the story develops, so do the tales of the characters around Jin. From the secretive and anger-filled matriarch of clan Adachi, Lady Masako, to Taka, the warrior monk Norio who is swallowed by grief, you’ll find yourself engrossed in these characters, just as you’ll get thoroughly lost in this staggeringly beautiful world. Packed with action and filled with quests, including side quests to earn you weapons and armours, and Mythic quests to learn special combat techniques — that’s how you’ll find yourself falling deeper and deeper into this samurai epic.

Fights that punch above their weight

From blades and bows, to bombs, the real satisfaction from all the action comes from your parries and powers. Just as you’ll feel the increasing adrenaline, every dodge, strike, and parry increases Resolve, which can be used to complete special attacks and heal. It’s about stances as much as it’s about swordplay in the Ghost of Tsushima. To succeed, you just need two things — mastering the four combat stances, and the art of timing. Because how you strike is just as important as when you strike. It’s nuanced. It’s calculated. And by the end, it should flow and feel right. It’s brutal, yet beautiful. Gory, yet graceful. Each combat is a delicate dance. And every strike — the perfect screenshot.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the PS4 controller holder

Just as its intense fight scenes will leave you breathless, the beauty of Tsushima is equally breathtaking. If not, more. Taking cues from Mother Nature, you’ll be led to waypoints by the wind, find bamboo strikes and hot springs with directions from golden birds, as well as foxes bringing you to Inari shrines. You can change the weather by playing your flute, and even learn new melodies from singing crickets. From pampas grass and bamboo forests, to lakes and mountains, it’s lush with foliage and teeming with colours. You’ll feel like you’re in a painting, or better still, an ASMR video.

And despite the vivid and vibrant colours that surround you, you’ll still be able to find spaces of solitude. Places that will allow you to compose haikus, shrines that sit atop mountains, as well as hot springs to bare your soul (and butt!).

You’ll also occasionally stumble upon empty buildings, camps, and villages in comparison to the lush environment, which feel like missed opportunities where more could have been done to enrich and enhance gameplay. Not to mention the final act, a bleak and stark contrast to the onslaught of colours in the first two acts, that will throw you off slightly and don’t quite match up to expectations.

That said, not only is Ghost of Tsushima a visual treat, it’s also a work of art that’s well thought, just as it’s well made.

The verdict

Stunning geography and rich in history, Ghost of Tsushima is a work of art. From the massive open world of Tsushima, right to the small details like the ink brush artwork that appears in cut scenes, as well as the Kurosawa Mode — a detailed black and white filter inspired by the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa — as much as it is flawed, the Ghost of Tsushima is a fitting swan song for the PS4.

4.5/5 stars

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