Ghost of Tsushima

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Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima.jpg
Developer(s)Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher(s)Sony Interactive Entertainment
Director(s)
  • Nate Fox
  • Jason Connell
Producer(s)
  • Brian Fleming
Artist(s)Jason Connell
Writer(s)
  • Ian Ryan
  • Liz Albl
  • Patrick Downs
  • Jordan Lemos
Composer(s)
Platform(s)PlayStation 4
ReleaseJuly 17, 2020
Genre(s)Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Ghost of Tsushima is a 2020 action-adventure game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Featuring an open world, the player controls Jin Sakai, a samurai on a quest to protect Tsushima Island during the first Mongol invasion of Japan. The game was released on July 17, 2020 for PlayStation 4. It received praise for its visuals and combat, but was criticized for its open world activities. Ghost of Tsushima also earned several award nominations and wins and sold 6.5 million copies as of March 2021.

Gameplay[edit]

Pre-release gameplay screenshot depicting the player in combat

Ghost of Tsushima is an action-adventure stealth game played from a third-person perspective. The game features a large open world, without waypoints, which can be explored without guidance.[1] Players can travel to different parts of the world on horseback. An item that acts as a grappling hook is available to access difficult to reach areas.[2] The game features side quests and non-playable characters with which the player can interact.[3]

Players can engage in direct confrontation with enemies using weapons such as a tachi,[4] which can also be used to chain up a series of fatal strikes after highlighting specific enemies. Alternatively, using stealth allows to evade enemies and strike them silently with tools such as firecrackers to create distractions, smoke bombs to disorient alerted foes, and kunai for striking multiple enemies.[5] One-versus-one dueling with non-playable characters is optional.[3]

Unlike most other games, the highest difficulty, "Lethal", is not a difficulty in which enemies are especially difficult to cut down. Rather, it is a more realistic mode in which the player and enemies do massive damage to each other, with all non-boss fights ending in 1 or 2 successful cuts. This has been praised by various reviewers, and has been noted to fundamentally change how the game is played.

A multiplayer mode titled Legends was released in late 2020. Players can complete story missions based on Japanese folklore with another player.[6] A horde mode, in which players fight waves of enemies, is also available for a group of four players. A raid was added post-Legends launch.[7][8]

Synopsis[edit]

Characters[edit]

The protagonist Jin Sakai (Daisuke Tsuji/Kazuya Nakai), is the head of Sakai clan and a samurai warrior. He is the nephew and ward of Lord Shimura (Eric Steinberg/Akio Ōtsuka), the jitō of Tsushima. He has several friends and companions he meets, including a thief named Yuna (Sumalee Montano/Yu Mizuno) and her blacksmith brother Taka (Eddie Shin/Kappei Yamaguchi), a female warrior named Lady Masako Adachi (Lauren Tom/Mabuki Ando), renowned Kyūdō archer Sensei Ishikawa (François Chau/Shigeru Chiba), merchant and con-artist Kenji (James Hiroyuki Liao/Setsuji Sato), Buddhist warrior monk Norio (Earl T. Kim/Mitsuaki Kanuka), Clan Sakai's elderly caretaker Yuriko (Karen Huie/Yuri Tabata), and Jin's childhood friend and leader of the infamous Straw Hat rōnin, Ryuzo (Leonard Wu/Youhei Tadano). The main antagonist is the ruthless and cunning general Khotun Khan of the Mongol Empire (Patrick Gallagher/Tsutomu Isobe), grandson of Genghis Khan.

Plot[edit]

In 1274, a Mongolian invasion fleet led by Khotun Khan lands on the Japanese island of Tsushima. Jin Sakai joins with the rest of the island's local samurai, led by his uncle Lord Shimura, in an attempt to repel the invasion. The battle ends in disaster, with the samurai army killed, Lord Shimura captured, and Jin grievously wounded and left for dead. Jin is found and nursed back to health by Yuna, a local thief, who informs him that most of Tsushima has already fallen to the Mongols. Jin storms Khotun's stronghold at Castle Kaneda in an attempt to rescue Lord Shimura, but is defeated by Khotun in combat and is thrown from a bridge.

Realizing that he cannot defeat the Mongols by himself or with traditional samurai fighting tactics, Jin begins scouring the island to recruit allies and learn fighting techniques to aid in his quest to rescue Lord Shimura. He manages to recruit Yuna, her blacksmith brother Taka, devious merchant Kenji, master archer Ishikawa, female samurai Masako Adachi, and his old friend and mercenary Ryuzo and his Straw Hat rōnin. As Jin disrupts Mongol activities and liberates towns across the island, the locals begin to revere him as "The Ghost". Taka crafts a special climbing hook that allows Jin to scale the walls of Kaneda Castle, and he calls for his allies to commence the rescue mission. Destitute and starving, Ryuzo and the Straw Hats betray Jin to collect the bounty issued on his head by the Mongols, but Jin manages to fend them off, free Lord Shimura and retake Kaneda Castle.

Despite their victory, Khotun had already left to conquer Lord Shimura's castle with help from Ryuzo's men. To retake Shimura Castle, Jin recruits Norio, his warrior monks and the Yarikawa clan. Lord Shimura recruits the local pirate Goro to smuggle a message requesting reinforcements to the Shogun, as well as an announcement that he wishes to adopt Jin as his heir. With a new army under Lord Shimura's command and reinforcements from the Shogun on the way, Jin recovers his family's ancestral armor from Sakai clan's caretaker Yuriko, who teaches him how to craft poison. Jin heads out early during the night to confront Ryuzo but is captured along with Taka by Khotun, who asks him to surrender. When Jin refuses, Khotun kills Taka as punishment. Jin is able to escape with Yuna's help just as the Shogun's samurai reinforcements arrive. Lord Shimura then leads a full assault on Shimura Castle, and are able to push the Mongols into the inner keep. However, Khotun resorts to unconventional tactics that inflict massive casualties on the samurai. Realizing that more lives will be lost in another frontal attack, Jin defies his uncle and decides to poison the Mongols instead.

Jin infiltrates the castle and sneaks poison into the Mongols' food. He confronts Ryuzo again and kills him in single combat after Ryuzo refuses to surrender. Despite the castle being taken bloodlessly, Khotun again has left to campaign further north, while Lord Shimura is furious with Jin's conduct. Knowing the Shogun will want to have someone executed as punishment, Lord Shimura asks Jin to blame Yuna as a scapegoat, but Jin refuses, fully embracing his role as the "Ghost". He is arrested for his crimes, but manages to escape when Yuna learns of Khotun's whereabouts. As Jin tracks Khotun, he discovers to his horror that Khotun has learned how to recreate the poison he used and is using it against the island's residents. Jin gathers his allies again and assaults Khotun's final stronghold in Port Izumi. He manages to infiltrate the port and kill Khotun on his flagship.

With Khotun dead, the Mongol invasion loses its momentum and the tide turns in the samurai's favor. Jin is summoned by Lord Shimura, who informs him that since the Shogun considers the "Ghost" a threat to the stability of Tsushima, he has disbanded the Sakai clan and ordered Jin's execution. Reminiscing about what they have both lost, Jin and Lord Shimura reluctantly battle each other, with Jin emerging as the victor. Jin has the option of either sparing Lord Shimura's life or killing him to give him a proper warrior's death. Regardless of the decision, Jin accepts that he is the Ghost of Tsushima.

Development[edit]

Ghost of Tsushima was developed by Sucker Punch Productions. After completing Infamous First Light, the team wanted to develop another open world project because they believed that choices made by the player are important to gameplay. As a result, the game does not feature waypoints and players have complete freedom to explore the game's world. According to Nate Fox, the game's director, the team distilled the game's numerous internal pitches into "the fantasy of becoming a samurai" during conceptualization.[1] Before deciding on the setting, Sucker Punch considered various other settings and themes such as pirates, Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor and The Three Musketeers, but they kept coming back to feudal Japan and telling the story of a samurai warrior. They would later find a historical account of the Mongol invasion of Tsushima in 1274 and "the entire vision clicked into place."[9]

Game director Nate Fox said: "This is a game that is entirely grounded in reality. We're trying hard to transport people to 1274 Japan. We're inspired by history, but we're not building it back stone by stone. We're not trying to rebuild Tsushima island. Our protagonist is a work of fiction. We actually thought about using some historical figures, and we asked some people who are more culturally aware than us and they said that it would be insensitive, so we didn't do it."[10] Sucker Punch consulted cultural experts to improve the title's accuracy to feudal Japanese culture.[11] Sucker Punch's Infamous series served as an inspiration for Jin's traversal techniques.[11] The game takes inspiration from Japanese cinema featuring samurai, notably Akira Kurosawa films such as Seven Samurai (1954) and Sanjuro (1962).[12][13] The team consulted historical sword-fighting expert David Ishimaru to help create a historically-based foundation for the game.[13] In December 2015, Sony executive Scott Rohde revealed that Sucker Punch's new project was in early development, and he added that the game was fun to play.[14] On June 23, 2020, it was announced that the game had gone gold.[15]

One of the game's Japanese localizers, Daisuke Ishidate (石立 大介) suggested to the developers that the game's "haiku" side-quest be replaced with a less anachronistic waka side-quest, but this was rejected based on the relative recognizability of haiku outside Japan. However, since a game set in the Kamakura period including "haiku" would hurt the immersion of the game for Japanese players, the Japanese version swaps them out for waka.[16] In an interview with Dengeki Online, Ishidate said that the developers had told him that while even haiku are not widely known outside Japan except in certain circles, waka are even less understood,[17] but Jason Connell, the game's artist and creative director, told Dengeki Online that haiku are known outside Japan while waka are not.[18]

Audio[edit]

Sucker Punch sent an audio team to Japan to record different sounds, including birdsongs. The players can switch to Japanese dialogue with English subtitles.[19] The game's music is composed by Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru Umebayashi.[20] Pre-orders of the game included a digital mini soundtrack with select songs.[21]

Release[edit]

The game was released for PlayStation 4 on July 17, 2020,[22] having been delayed from its original June 26 release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[21] Sucker Punch announced four editions: standard, digital deluxe, special, and a collector's edition.[21] Different editions come with different collectors' items as well as items, equipment, and unlocked abilities in the game, in addition to a bonus for pre-ordering the game.[21]

Marketing[edit]

The game's marketing campaign began in October 2017 when a reveal trailer was shown at Sony Interactive Entertainment's Paris Games Week press conference.[23] Sony opted not to announce the title too early since many of the game's systems were tentative and subject to change.[24] A gameplay demo was shown at E3 2018 and a live shakuhachi performance was delivered by Cornelius Boots.[25] A trailer was teased in the State of Play presentation on December 10, 2019, and was shown at The Game Awards 2019 with a live orchestra performance on December 12.[26] A story trailer was released on March 5, 2020.[21]

Ghost of Tsushima: Legends[edit]

A multiplayer expansion titled Ghost of Tsushima: Legends, was announced in August 2020 and was released on October 16, 2020, alongside the addition of a new game plus feature to the base game. Additional trophies were also added.[27] Unlike the main game, Legends features prominent supernatural elements drawn from Japanese folklore and mythology.[28] Players assume one of four available classes, and either take on the two player story missions, or four player wave-based missions, although all missions can also be played solo. There is also a four player raid, that takes place over three chapters. It was released on October 30, 2020, two weeks after the initial launch of Ghost of Tsushima: Legends. The multiplayer expansion alongside the other updates to the game were released for free, for owners of the base game.[27][28]

Reception[edit]

The game received "generally favorable" reviews, according to the review aggregator Metacritic.[29]

The aesthetics and visuals of the game received significant praise. Mitchell Saltzman of IGN described the game as "an absolutely gorgeous adventure through one of history's most strikingly beautiful landscapes" while criticizing the enemy AI.[35] Despite not recommending the title, Chris Tapsell of Eurogamer said the game's "world as a whole is beautiful – utterly, undeniably, oppressively beautiful."[40]

Critics were more mixed when it came to the activities found across the open world. Polygon's Carolyn Petit said that the game "offers a lovely world to explore, and there's value in that, but it should have been so much more than a checklist of activities to accomplish."[41] Kotaku's Ian Walker said "I found myself audibly sighing every time I crested a hill towards a mystery objective only to find another fox to follow or another haiku to compose. These diversions, while unique at first glance, proved to just be busy work as time wore on."[42]

In regards to combat, Rachel Weber of GamesRadar+ said that combat "just flowed and felt right."[34] Destructoid's Chris Carter said that the "rhythm of combat is also a sight to behold" and that "like the small open-world nuances, combat blossoms over time."[30]

Four editors from the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu gave the game a rare 40/40 perfect score. This is the third western game to receive such a top score, along with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) by Bethesda Softworks and Grand Theft Auto V (2013) by Rockstar Games.[43][44]

To Polygon's Kazuma Hashimoto, the game is a "well-intentioned homage" to Kurosawa films, as well as being a fairly nationalist interpretation of the samurai class as an "honor-bound and noble group of people that cared deeply for the peasantry." Hashimoto concludes that, "instead of examining the samurai's role, Ghost of Tsushima lionizes their existence as the true protectors of feudal Japan."[45]

Creative leads Nate Fox and Jason Connell were named as tourism ambassadors to Tsushima Island in March 2021, as those "who has spread the name and history of Tsushima through their works".[46]

Sales[edit]

Ghost of Tsushima was the best-selling physical game in its debut week of release in the United Kingdom[47] and sold 373,473 copies in the country by the end of 2020.[48] The game topped the download charts in both Europe and the USA.[49] In Japan, the game was also the best-selling game during its debut week, with 212,915 copies being sold.[50] The game remained in the top 30 best-selling video games in Japan for over 15 consecutive weeks, totaling over 412,000 copies sold.[51]

Worldwide, the game sold through more than 2.4 million units in its first 3 days of sales, making it PlayStation 4's fastest selling first-party original IP debut.[52] It was reported in November 2020 that it has sold over 5 million copies.[53] As of March 2021, the game has sold over 6.5 million units.[54]

Awards[edit]

The game received Special Commendations for Graphics[a] and Sound at the Game Critics Awards in July 2018.[55] In 2018, nominated for Most Wanted Game at the Golden Joystick Awards.[56] At the 38th Golden Joystick Awards in 2020, the game was nominated for Best Audio, Best Storytelling, Best Visual Design, and PlayStation Game of the Year, while Sucker Punch was nominated for Studio of the Year.[57][58] It received several nominations at The Game Awards 2020, including Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, and Best Performer for Daisuke Tsuji.[59] It won Game of the Year from PlayStation Official Magazine – UK.[60]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2018 Golden Joystick Awards Most Wanted Game Nominated [56]
Game Critics Awards Special Commendation for Graphics Won[a] [55]
Special Commendation for Sound Won [55]
2020 Golden Joystick Awards PlayStation Game of the Year Nominated [58]
Best Audio Nominated
Best Storytelling Nominated
Best Visual Design Nominated
Studio of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2020 Game of the Year Nominated [59]
Best Game Direction Nominated
Best Art Direction Won
Best Narrative Nominated
Best Performance Nominated
Best Audio Design Nominated
Best Action/Adventure Game Nominated
Player's Voice Won
Titanium Awards Best Narrative Design Nominated [61]
Best Art Design Nominated
2021 D.I.C.E. Awards Game of the Year Pending [62]
Adventure Game of the Year Pending
Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition Pending
Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction Pending
Outstanding Achievement in Audio Design Pending
Outstanding Achievement in Story Pending
Outstanding Technical Achievement Pending
Outstanding Achievement in Game Design Pending
Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction Pending
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project Nominated [63] [64]
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project Won
British Academy Games Awards Artistic Achievement Nominated [65][66]
Audio Achievement Won
Best Game Nominated
Game Design Nominated
Multiplayer Nominated
Music Nominated
Narrative Nominated
Original Property Nominated
Performer in a Leading Role[b] Nominated
Performer in a Supporting Role[c] Nominated
EE Game of the Year Nominated

Film adaptation[edit]

On March 25, 2021, Sony Pictures and PlayStation Productions announced the development of a film adaptation of the game, with Chad Stahelski directing. The film will be produced by Stahelski, Alex Young and Jason Spitz of 87Eleven Entertainment, and Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan for PlayStation Productions; Sucker Punch will serve as executive producers, with Peter Kang overseeing production on the studio's behalf.[54]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Also awarded to Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part II.[55]
  2. ^ Daisuke Tsuji as Jin Sakai.
  3. ^ Patrick Gallagher as Khotun Khan.

References[edit]

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