Ghost of Tsushima
|Ghost of Tsushima|
|Developer(s)||Sucker Punch Productions|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Interactive Entertainment|
|Release||July 17, 2020|
Ghost of Tsushima (// TSOO-shee-mə) is an 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 follows a samurai on a quest to protect Tsushima Island during the first Mongol invasion of Japan. The game was released on July 17, 2020. Ghost of Tsushima received praise for its visuals and combat but was criticized for its open world activities.
Ghost of Tsushima is an action-adventure stealth game played from a third-person perspective. Featuring a large open world, there are no waypoints and can be explored without guidance. Players can quickly travel to different parts of the game's world on horseback and an item that acts as a grappling hook is available to access difficult to reach areas. The game features side quests and non-playable characters with which the player can interact.
Players can engage in direct confrontation with enemies using weapons such as a tachi, which can also be used to chain up a series of fatal strikes after highlighting specific enemies. Alternatively, using stealth allows one 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. One-versus-one dueling with non-playable characters is also optional.
The game is set on Tsushima Island in the late 13th century. It features a diverse assortment of regions and buildings, such as countrysides, fields, shrines, ancient forests, villages, farms, mountainscapes, and various landmarks. Players will also encounter numerous characters, friends, and unlikely allies while adventuring.
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."
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 also has several friends and companions he meets during the story, including a thief named Yuna (Sumalee Montano/Yu Mizuno) and her blacksmith brother Taka (Eddie Shin/Kappei Yamaguchi), a female samurai named Lady Masako Adachi (Lauren Tom/Mabuki Ando), renowned archer Sensei Ishikawa (François Chau/Shigeru Chiba), merchant and con-artist Kenji (James Hiroyuki Liao/Setsuji Sato), Buddhist warrior monk Norio (Earl T. Kim/Mitsuaji Lanuka) and Yuriko (Karen Huie/Yuri Tabata), Clan Sakai's elderly caretaker. The main antagonist is the ruthless and cunning general Khotun Khan of the Mongol Empire (Patrick Gallagher/Tsutomu Isobe), grandson of Genghis Khan while Jin's childhood friend and leader of the infamous Straw Hat rōnin, Ryuzo (Leonard Wu/Youhei Tadano), serves as the secondary antagonist.
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. However, the battle ends in disaster, with the entire 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 new 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 will allow 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. In order recruits Norio, his warrior monks and the Yarikawa clan. Lord Shimura also 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 then 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. 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 now 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 will now have to live the rest of his life on the run as a wanted man, as The Ghost of Tsushima.
Ghost of Tsushima is 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 will not feature waypoints and players will 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. Before deciding on the current 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." To ensure that the title would be an accurate representation of feudal Japan, Sucker Punch consulted cultural experts and sent an audio team to Japan to record different sounds, including birdsongs. The players can switch to Japanese dialogue with English subtitles. Sucker Punch's Infamous series served as an inspiration for Jin's traversal techniques. The game takes inspiration from Japanese cinema featuring samurai, notably Akira Kurosawa films such as Seven Samurai (1954) and Sanjuro (1962). The team consulted historical sword-fighting expert David Ishimaru to help create a historically-based foundation for the game. 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. On June 23, 2020, it was announced that the game had gone gold.
The game was released for PlayStation 4 on July 17, 2020, having been delayed from its original June 26 release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sucker Punch announced four editions: standard, digital deluxe, special, and a collector's edition. 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.
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. Sony opted not to announce the title too early since many of the game's systems were tentative and subject to change. A gameplay demo was shown at E3 2018 and a live shakuhachi performance was delivered by Cornelius Boots. 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. A story trailer was released on March 5, 2020.
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The aesthetics and visuals of the game received significant praise. Michael 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. Despite not recommending the title, Chris Tapsell of Eurogamer said the game's "world as a whole is beautiful - utterly, undeniably, oppressively beautiful."
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." 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."
In regards to combat, Rachel Weber of GamesRadar+ said that combat "just flowed and felt right." 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."
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.
To Polygon's Kazuma Hashimoto, the game is a "well-intentioned homage" to Kurosawa films, but it ends up unwittingly reinforcing far-right nationalist reinterpretations of the samurai class as an "honor-bound and noble group of people that cared deeply for the peasantry," in detriment of a more nuanced view. Hashimoto concludes that, "instead of examining the samurai's role, Ghost of Tsushima lionizes their existence as the true protectors of feudal Japan."
Ghost of Tsushima was the best-selling physical game in its debut week of release in the United Kingdom. In Japan, the game was also the best-selling game during its debut week, with 212,915 copies being sold. Worldwide, the game sold through more than 2.4 million units in its first 3 days of sales, making it in PlayStation 4's fastest selling first-party original IP debut.
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