Should you buy… Ghost Of Tsushima?

The samurai epic comes exclusively to PlayStation on July 17.
The samurai epic comes exclusively to PlayStation on July 17.

Ghost Of Tsushima arrives on PlayStation 4 this week as the last major exclusive of this generation of the console, offering a mixture of serenity and intense violence.

Here, open-world action-adventure meets the film-making of Akira Kurosawa in a samurai epic.

The game looks and feels as though every view has been meticulously planned and thought-out and framed, even the moments where players have control over the camera.

Partly that is down to the beauty of this game.

The world built by developer Sucker Punch is truly stunning, one of the best looking on PS4, and it is a real treat to explore.

From the vivid reds of Japanese maples to the stunning sunsets, the falling blossom, snow-capped hills and beautiful temples, visually this is a love letter to Japan and it completely draws the player in.

Ghost of Tsushima
(Sony Interactive Entertainment/Sucker Punch)

However, the issues with Ghost Of Tsushima come beneath this picture-perfect setting and in gameplay which while does contain some interesting traits, overall is a paint-by-numbers system of exploration and combat players will have seen before.

The story goes like this: you play as Jin Sakai, a samurai warrior who is fighting to save his home, the island of Tsushima, from a Mongol invasion in the 13th century.

This journey takes Jin across the entire island of Tsushima, searching out allies and confronting foes in all settings and in a range of ways, from storming forts to sneaking through camps or facing off in epic one-on-one duels.

The story itself is engrossing and interesting, with a great range of characters and some truly memorable set pieces and boss battles.

Being a samurai game, combat is naturally a large part of the gameplay.

It is fun to begin with, in particular the Standoffs, where players have the choice, upon encountering an enemy group, to call out one fighter to a single duel to begin the fight.

Ghost of Tsushima
(Sony Interactive Entertainment/Sucker Punch)

This is a brilliant and refreshing way to enter combat.

Once in combat too, Ghost Of Tsushima has a number of different stances available to Jin over time, each one being more effective against different types of enemy soldier.

This takes the traditional fights of open-world adventure games; players taking on a generic group of enemies, and gives it an added level of strategy and skill.

It is a vital addition and it brings that much-needed depth to combat, allowing players to break up the button-mashing and swap between stances to better take on larger brutes or swordsmen, during combat.

Then there are the moments away from the battles.

Ghost Of Tsushima has several serene and peaceful moments, for example where players pause, look around their surroundings and compose a haiku.

Players can also visit hot springs for a moment of contemplation and to revitalise their health, which offers a nice distraction from the relentless combat.

However, these breaks can’t hide the repetitive nature of much of the action in Ghost Of Tsushima.

Ghost of Tsushima
(Sony Interactive Entertainment/Sucker Punch)

Beyond the new details in combat already noted, most of what players will see here looks and feels like most other open-world action-adventure games.

The main quests and sidequests, known as Tales, all follow a very similar pattern too.

Almost all of them require players to travel to an area, clear of it all enemies and perhaps collect some additional items or seek out a specific individual.

Some of these involve confronting enemies front on, others push you towards stealth, but by the end of the game you will feel as if you’ve played them all several times over.

In addition, even the upgradeable skills and interchangeable combat stances cannot save you from resorting from button mashing later on in the game, as the number of enemies increase and the time for poise evaporates.

This ultimately, is what holds Ghost Of Tsushima back.

– Verdict

Ghost Of Tsushima then is a breathtakingly beautiful world and a compelling take on the samurai age from Sucker Punch, in this sense it is one of the very best experiences on PS4.

But within this incredibly detailed canvas is a gameplay system which just not match it for depth.

Yes, there are little touches which make the familiar exploration and combat systems feel fresher, but they alone are not enough to keep players truly hooked, despite the lure of the setting.


Ghost Of Tsushima is out on PlayStation 4 on July 17.