Darkness no more
- Mar 5, 2009
Metacritic: 83 | Opencritic: 85
Ghost of Tsushima (/ˈtsuʃiˌmɑː/) is an upcoming action-adventure game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 4. Featuring an open world for players to explore, it revolves around Jin Sakai, one of the last samurai on Tsushima Island during the first Mongol invasion of Japan in the 1270s. The game will be released on July 17, 2020.
Game Informer: 9.5
Ghost of Tsushima captures the mystique, fierce violence, and barely contained emotional angst of the great samurai films. The line of inspiration is clearly purposeful; Sucker Punch included a gorgeous “Kurosawa Mode,” which sets a black-and-white, film-grain, audio-treated effect that doubles down on the classic cinematic vibe. It’s well worth turning on, if only for a few missions. But even beyond that cool feature, this is a game that nails the aesthetic it’s shooting for, firmly establishing itself as the medium’s defining samurai saga.
With Ghost of Tsushima under its belt, Sucker Punch deserves to be in the same conversation as Insomniac, Naughty Dog, and Sony Santa Monica. If this generation is to wrap up soon, it's fitting that it'll end with Tsushima: one of its most beautiful games thus far.
Twinfinite: 90Ghost of Tsushima is an enormous and densely packed samurai adventure that often left me completely awestruck with both its visual spectacle and excellent combat. By steadily introducing new abilities instead of stat upgrades, its swordplay manages to stay challenging, rewarding, and fun throughout the entire 40 to 50 hours that it took me to beat the campaign. A few aspects are surprisingly lacking in polish in comparison to other first-party Sony games, especially when it comes to enemy AI and the stealth part of its stealth/action split. Still this is an extraordinary open-world action-adventure game that solves several issues that have long gone unaddressed in the genre, while also just being an all around samurai slashin’ good time.
Perhaps most importantly for me, and for which Sucker Punch deserves particular praise, Ghost of Tsushima features a level of charm that gives it a soul and personality lacking from so many AAA games lack these days. Even if it ultimately suffers from repetition by the game’s end, and despite a lack of variety in its quest, the magic of that initial exploration and the beauty of its world will stick with me for a very long time.
Games Radar: 90
These are minor complaints in a game that gave me packed days and nights of adventure and storytelling, made me shed a tear and Google grief support groups, and gave me a new love for the history and traditions of feudal Japan. There's so much to do, such fervent, visible love for the subject matter - from the ink brush artwork that appears in cutscenes when you're hearing a mythical tale, to the Kurosawa Mode filter that paints the world in a cinematic monochrome and was given the blessing of Akira Kurosawa’s estate. It would be understandable for developer Sucker Punch to feel nervous about releasing a game so close to the critically-acclaimed The Last of Us 2, and as PS5 glimmers on the horizon, but it shouldn't. This is a worthy swan song for the PS4, and a tribute to the Japanese culture it so clearly reveres.
Push Square: 90
Ghost of Tsushima is a joy to play and a joy to behold. Sucker Punch has crafted one of the most memorable open world games of this generation, buoyed by an immensely satisfying combat system and an engaging, dramatic story. Unlike many of its open world peers, it's a refined and focused experience -- gripping and immaculately presented at its best. A fitting first-party swansong for the PS4.
Shack News: 90
While Ghost of Tsushima has a few of the standard pop-ins and visual glitches that are common to most open-world games this is still one of the most beautiful and fluid titles I’ve ever played. While I did have a few moments of frustration, usually brought on by camera angle issues, they are almost completely forgivable when I look at the overall package. There’s just too much here to like and none of it feels tacked on or a time-filler. It’s wonderfully balanced and doesn’t punish you for needing to attempt something more than once. And, even with the camera working against me, I was able to become a masterful samurai. Perhaps Ghost of Tsushima isn’t a perfect cherry blossom, but it is pretty damn close as far as I’m concerned.
Press Start: 8.5
As something of a last hurrah for PlayStation 4 exclusives, and a fresh IP no less, Sucker Punch have confidently crafted what I’d consider their most impressive work yet. Any sense of familiarity when it comes to the gameplay format is quickly forgotten about when you get to experience what the island of Tsushima has to offer, and as a game it’s a surprisingly comfortable world for PlayStation fans to settle into after the likes of The Last of Us Part II.
Easy Allies: 8.5
Ghost of Tsushima has a lot going for it. Combat is fast and fluid, and the story is engaging thanks to some great characters. Most disappointing is that taking a stealthy approach can sometimes make victory feel simple and unearned. Despite that, the island itself is the biggest draw, taking you on a captivating adventure through its beautiful world.
Venture Beat: 85
Ghost of Tsushima isn’t going to do anything that you haven’t seen before, but it uses that modern Assassin’s Creed formula to host a big and emotional samurai saga. I’ll even say that I like it better than, say, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, largely due to the stronger story and combat. It’s not bold enough to be excellent, but Ghost of Tsushima is enjoyable enough to keep fans of these kinds of map games busy and happy for a good while.
Ghost of Tsushima's story hits hard in the game's third and final act, and ends in spectacular fashion. It left me with the same kinds of strong emotions I felt at the end of all my favourite samurai film epics, and had me eager to watch them all again. The game hits a lot of fantastic cinematic highs, and those ultimately lift it above the trappings of its familiar open-world quest design and all the innate weaknesses that come with it--but those imperfections and dull edges are definitely still there. Ghost of Tsushima is at its best when you're riding your horse and taking in the beautiful world on your own terms, armed with a sword and a screenshot button, allowing the environmental cues and your own curiosity to guide you. It's not quite a Criterion classic, but a lot of the time it sure looks like one.
In (very) short: like the initial entry in Assassin’s Creed, the franchise it unashamedly copies, Ghost of Tsushima is good but not great. I finished it to complete it, not because I was invested in the mixed bag that was presented.
It has its moments, but like Jin Sakai in the opening hours, the past holds it back. It’s Open World: The Video Game. It’s far too easy, too – the lack of consequence for failure makes it feel like you’re just going through the motions. If you’ll excuse the wind-based pun, it’s a breeze. While playing it, I often found my mind wandering. By the third and final act, I just wanted it to be over. Like the samurai, Ghost of Tsushima feels like a relic of a bygone era.
It's desperately frustrating, because I maintain that Ghost of Tsushima is still, largely, quite fun. The problem is it's an easy, breezy, lite beer kind of fun - the kind that Sucker Punch is known for, after all - and the blanket genericism of it just doesn't sit well against such a po-faced tone. It's another game fallen victim to the palatability blender, coming out the other side as a slightly formless smudge of every genre, without a mastery of any. Going back to Ghost of Tsushima's roots, as an American game inspired by the comics and the movies of Japan, in a way it's quite apt. It's what happens when you want to pay homage, but don't want to add anything new of your own. It's Hollywood.