It's hard to deny the impact that legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa had on the entertainment world. His classic tales of vengeance, betrayal, and loyalty with the backdrop of feudal Japan often paved the way for storytelling to flourish in unique and introspective ways. In addition to his contributions in the narrative department, his skills as a visual auteur were unparalleled, even by today's standards. I bring this up because Kurosawa's style is baked into the core of Sucker Punch's phenomenal open world action title, Ghost of Tsushima - the result of developers who all shared a burning passion for films like Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, The Hidden Fortress, and samurai cinema of old and new. Ghost of Tsushima feels like a fitting love letter to that era of film, but most importantly, has set a new bar for all thematic samurai video games to come.
Note: This review is spoiler-free.
Ghost of Tsushima takes place in the 13th century during the Mongolian invasion of Japan. Standing firm between Japan's mainland and the Mongols is the island of Tsushima, populated by the working class and a group of honourable samurai who take a stand against Genghis Khan's grandson, the tyrannical Khotun Khan. We follow the story of the noble house of Sakai and its heir, Jin, who - through a series of unfortunate events - finds himself battling the Mongols while struggling to honour the code of the samurai and build his new legacy as the dishonourable but highly influential symbol of vengeance, the Ghost.
The external battle of Tsushima's few remaining samurai against the invading Mongols beautifully contrasts with Jin's internal fight as both the samurai and the Ghost.
There are plenty of diverse and downright stunning locations such as grasslands, forests, swamps, icy mountain peaks, farmsteads and more that are a joy to explore.
Yuna and Masako are standout characters...
You're given the option between two distinctive general playstyles: the samurai and the Ghost.
Thankfully, the demanding difficulty is off-set by the range of one-hit kill options.
[Kurosawa Mode] never detracted from the astonishing beauty of the game, but rather added something quite nostalgic and almost poetic...
The game takes its time setting up not only Jin as a strong, relatable protagonist, but almost every side character too.
Sucker Punch is able to inject their own unique style into the game that makes it feel more like a successor to the Infamous series...
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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Sucker Punch Productions
Sony Interactive Entertainment
17 July 2020
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