Ghost of Tsushima is back in the minds of gamers, thanks to the release date being announced in the latest jaw-dropping trailer. But this is a game that was first announced back in October 2017 and you may be forgiven if you’ve not remembered all the ins and outs of the game. With that in mind, here’s a little refresher as to what you can expect in this historically inspired Samurai game.
Developed by Sucker Punch, the studio behind Infamous, Ghost of Tsushima is a historically grounded open-world game set in 1274 on the island of Tsushima, Japan. The backdrop is the very real first Mongol Invasion of Japan. While historical, the invasion was spearheaded by Kublai Khan, the game gives us a fictional character as the main antagonist, the general Khotun Khan. While it’s always fun to replay history, allowing a narrative to play out is more liberating for the writers. Which is also why you play as a fictional character. Enter Jin Sakai, one of the last Samurai operating in Japan after the Mongol ships have landed at Komodahama Beach.
Jin was raised as a Samurai, under the tutelage of his father. Words like honour and respect were a heavy part of his upbringing. But such tactics have proven to be futile against the Mongol invaders. Part of the gameplay seems to be about more stealth and guerrilla tactics. Considering the years, I have to wonder if Jin, in this version of reality, ends up being the first Shinobi, or Ninja. The timelines don’t quite add up, as Ninjas were only said to have become a thing during the Sengoku Period, which started in 1467. But perhaps the legend of Jin, the titular Ghost, had a profound effect on the years to come. But considering the use of smoke bombs and a traversal rope, as well as more traditional weapons like katanas and a bow and arrow, does give me a reason to pause.
I think one of the more interesting aspects of the game is how the world will be displayed to the player. Per Sucker Punch, the game will not feature waypoints to indicate where the next mission will be. Instead, it will be up to the player to decide where to go next. I like this idea, as it presents Jin as a nomad, travelling the island, searching for the next clue or the next quest organically. Perhaps there is something in that bamboo forest, only one way to find out though and that is by exploring the varied environments. This feels very refreshing as it goes against what just about any open-world game does these days. Plus, the world looks very beautiful and wandering it looks to be more than simply set dressing. In another stroke of authenticity, the game will be playable in both English and Japanese.
While there is no word as to how large the game world is going to be, no doubt it will be varied based on the footage we’ve seen thus far. Everything from forests, plains, villages, temples and shrines will be found on the island. And even more interesting is the visual style of it all. Everything looks very bright and dense, at times looking more like a painting. Is it exaggerated? I honestly could not say, as I’ve not seen to Japan and seen its countryside. But it is certainly aesthetically pleasing and that’s something the studio wants to bear in mind as you play the game.
While in combat, things also look unconventional. Instead of a standard hack and slash attitude, things look to be more timing-based and inspired by brawler games. So in other words, you’ll need skill, rather than smashing all the buttons. In the gameplay reveal, Jin takes out one enemy with a single strike after a standoff. Westerns are heavily inspired by the Samurai film genre and seeing this “Japanese standoff” play a role in gameplay makes the Kurasawa fan in me quite content. Likewise, when facing off against a more challenging opponent, the camera shifts to a more cinematic angle. The gameplay showcased at E3, where the GIF below is taken from, is actually a side quest.
As someone who has been excited about this game for years, it’s great to see that it’s finally given a release date. 2020 is looking like a great swan song for this console generation, with many high-quality content promised on the horizon. Let us know if you’ll be picking up Tsushima when it hits PS4 on June 26th, 2020.