REVIEWED! Ghost of Tsushima (2020)

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Ghost of Tsushima was developed by Sucker Punch Studios, and stars Daisuke Tsuji, Sumalee Montano, Eric Steinberg, and Patrick Gallagher.

I’m not the biggest fan of open world games, so I wasn’t expecting to like Ghost of Tsushima as much as I did.

I actually had very few issues with this game. First, climbing was very finicky, especially climbing ladders. Second, I found it very annoying that there was essentially nothing you could do about the Mongols’ falcons. I didn’t figure out until very late in the game that you could actually hit them with arrows. Finally, and most importantly, the retaking of Castle Kaneda was pretty underwhelming in my opinion. I was expecting an onslaught of Mongols after Jin escaped with Lord Shimura, but it was just one small wave. 

Those few issues are vastly overshadowed by the rest of this game, though. Castle Kaneda was the only underwhelming main battle; the rest were phenomenal. Some standouts for me were the opening on Komoda Beach, Yarikawa, and the final stand at Port Izumi.

Visually, this game is stunning. Every environment is beautiful. There were moments where I honestly forgot I was playing a game for a second or so. 

The open world exploration never really got boring until after I completed the main story, and had seen most of what Tsushima had to offer. This is partly because the environments all look so good. 

The combat was incredible as well. It was extremely satisfying to slaughter dozens of Mongols and learn cool, new moves. Boss fights were especially fun.

Ghost of Tsushima presented a surprisingly complex and emotional narrative about identity, and doing what’s right and honorable versus doing what’s necessary, and the consequences of each path. There were a lot of staggeringly moving moments throughout the main story that caught me a bit off guard, such as the death of Taka and, most memorably, the final duel against Lord Shimura. The “choose your ending” was just right as well. I felt as though this game had just the right amount of player agency to allow for such an ending. Personally, I chose to kill Lord Shimura (not because I wanted him to die or for revenge, but so he could die with “honor”).

Ghost of Tsushima doesn’t only achieve in its action and grit, though. The quiet, peaceful moments work wonders. The haikus allow the player to not only reflect on the given topic for that haiku, but their journey as a whole. The fox dens provide small moments of levity as you follow the fox to a shrine, pet it, and then watch it jump around.

Retaking all of the forts and liberating the entirety of Tsushima was something I didn’t do until I had already finished the main story. While they didn’t add anything to the actual story, I still had fun just playing some more of this game. Once I had around ten forts to go, though, they almost became too easy.

Ghost of Tsushima was an amazing experience that I highly recommend.

9.8/10

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