Even though I was looking forward to seeing Sucker Punch’s latest project in action, I wasn’t particularly hyped to actually play Ghost of Tsushima. I absolutely thought it looked like it would be a good and interesting game, but it’s kind of outside my usual sphere of interest when it comes to games. See, Ghost of Tsushima is a piece of historical fiction, which to me means limitations on available technology and setting. More than that, Ghost of Tsushima is an open-world game, and I’m typically not a fan of those. Well, I still went ahead and bought the game and am very glad I did. Ghost of Tsushima has overcome all of my reservations and is now a contender for my game of the year!
Let’s start with it’s open-world format. For the most part, I do not like open-world games. I think they tend to be boring experiences with altogether too much wandering around and too little actual interesting content. There are exceptions to this of course. I still love Fallout 3/ New Vegas, and I was a massive Skyrim fan along with everyone else. Generally though, I don’t like them and would rather play something offering a more deliberate, curated experience.
All that said, I don’t have a problem with Ghost of Tsushima’s open world. I’ve actually found myself enjoying all the missions and finding points of interest as I ride around the map. It might be because I’m still in the early game and the mechanics haven’t gotten old yet, but I don’t think so. Everything I’ve found so far has been interesting in some way. Sometimes it’s a story; sometimes its a tricky encounter. Sometimes it’s the fact that I’m actually following a fox or bird around to some sort of secret (bonus points for letting me pet the foxes by the way). Basically, the game hasn’t felt at all boring even though I’m doing things that normally should be.
The setting has turned out to be a major boon for the game too. See, I’m already interested in Japanese history, so it’s interesting getting a closer look at how people lived and what their purported values were. One must remember that this is an entertainment product of course, it’s not going to be the most accurate representation of how things were. Even so, it’s nice to get a slightly more tangible sense of the period. I highly doubt that people would still be lounging about in hot spring inns and such while the Mongols were invading the island. The world itself is also far too beautiful. Simply put, this is the samurai movie version of feudal Japan. There are kernels of truth here, but it’s all been stylized for effect.
More importantly, the setting actually lends itself to interesting gameplay. To my surprise, I’m actually having a lot of fun playing as a wandering samurai. I’m not missing vehicles, nor do I wish that I had a space gun or super powers like those seen in Destiny. Jin Sakai is far more capable than any ever could be, but his abilities still feel grounded in reality. This makes completing tough encounters or creeping through enemy encampments feel all the more rewarding. It also helps that that controls for all of this feel very good. It all feels natural, and, when it’s combined with the game’s very impressive animations and visuals, it gets taken to the next level.
Honestly, Ghost of Tsushima really surprised me. I went into thinking I’d really only wind up enjoying the story and characters (both off which are excellent by the way), but the gameplay and world have really hooked my too. If you’re already a fan of open-world games, then this one is a no-brainer. If you’re like me however and you don’t typically like these sorts of games,you might want to give it a try anyway. You might just wind being pleasantly surprised.