I Can’t Stop Playing Ghost of Tsushima

Please send help.

Author’s Note: Video version can be found here.

As the title blatantly says, I can’t stop playing Ghost of Tsushima on the PS4. I have been thoroughly and completely sucked into its world. No, in case you’re wondering, I have not finished it yet and thus I can’t give a whole review of the game. I’m getting close though. Although I haven’t beaten the game, I couldn’t wait to talk about it thus I am here today to give all of you what we’ll all a Review Preview of the game. Additionally, I’m working on a review of another very large game which won’t be done for a little bit so I thought I would give my audience something to watch/read to tide them over.

As I said, this isn’t a full review of Ghost of Tsushima. I will instead focus on three things that I think the game does well and one minor issue I have with it. I hope you all enjoy!

Things I Love About Ghost of Tsushima:

1. The Open World

I will admit upfront that I have been burned out on open world games for the past few years and, in fact, I was almost dreading playing Ghost of Tsushima because it has an open world. Even before playing it, I knew I would love the location and time period it was set in but I had my reservations about the open world aspect of the game. Well, I’m glad to report that my fears about the open world were unfounded. I have enjoyed nearly every second of my time on the island of Tsushima.

The reason I have enjoyed it so much is simple. I love the world in Ghost of Tsushima because it is so damn beautiful. Every location, every biome, and every view from any of the game’s mountains is absolutely stunning. I relish every opportunity to look out over the horizon from any mountaintop or hill I climb because there is always something that catches my eye. The use of color is to be applauded. Most open world games tend to adopt one color for the entire world but not so for Ghost of Tsushima. The reds, blues, whites, yellows, and even greens make the world pop and give each location its own sense of style, place, and, yes, color.

I’m not sure (since I’ve never personally been to the isle of Tsushima in real life) if the real-world location has this many different places with their own weather patterns but I really don’t care if it does. All I know is that the developers over at Sucker Punch have done an amazing job at making Tsushima both interesting and an absolute joy to explore. I haven’t been taken in by an open world like this since Breath of the Wild.

My only complaint is that Jin (the main character) doesn’t have a spyglass that he can use to zoom in on locations in the distance. As a consequence, there isn’t a waypoint system where he can look at something and then mark it on the map. I’m sure that the game was intentionally designed this way in order to force the player to walk or ride around the map to discover the many, many different areas of the game. I won’t argue against this point since it is such a joy to simply explore this fictionalized version of Tsushima.

2. The Story

My qualms with the open world didn’t begin and end with my concerns about exploring it either. From my point of view, many games with open worlds tend to have a watered-down story (it’s important to note that I said “tend” here since a few open world games have fantastic stories). Luckily for me, I have been taken in by Ghost of Tsushima’s grand story. In case you don’t know, the story revolves around the very real and historical Mongol invasion of the island of Tsushima off the coast of Japan back in the thirteenth century.

There’s more to it than that, however. The story evolves from one about fighting Mongol invaders to one which questions the code which samurai lived, fought, and died by. It’s a code of honor which praised facing one’s enemy head-on and not doing so from the shadows. Problems arise when Jin wants to take the war in a different direction which puts him at odds with his uncle, the Lord Shimura, who is very much steeped in the samurai code of honor. I have an idea of how this story ends but I would love to be surprised (and so help me God, no one had better ruin it for me by commenting on this post).

The main reason I like the story so much is because it has a strong main villain named Khotun Khan. In my opinion, a story is never any good unless it has a compelling villain to keep the story going and Khotun Khan fits the bill perfectly. I won’t spoil anything here but let’s just say he is a perfect mix of both vicious and cunning. He is willing to do what it takes to subjugate the people of Tsushima and he is the perfect antagonist for Jin Sakai. He keeps the story interesting and compelling in ways that a few antagonists that come to mind just don’t. Like I said, I can’t wait to see how this story ends since it is sure to be good.

3. Weapons and Armor

As many of you know, I am a big fan of RPGs. I love how these types of games usually include a big adventure with awe-inspiring locales and intriguing characters. One thing I’m not so fond of in RPGs is the seemingly endless number of items that you can collect on the journey. I hate sorting through items to see which one works best. There have been times while I was playing an RPG and I had, say, an armor set which I really liked but it was weaker than another much uglier armor set I had. I thus had to wear a suit of armor that I didn’t like since it was better than the much better looking one. This always bothers me in games. In Ghost of Tsushima, however, there are very few armor sets and even fewer weapons which can be used.

Let’s start with the weapons. At the outset of the game, Jin will receive two bladed weapons: his katana and a tanto which is basically a dagger (please excuse my ignorance if this is a wrong assumption since I know next to nothing about bladed weapons). And those two weapons are the only ones he will get throughout the game. Yep, you read that right. Those are the only two weapons he will have access to during the game (he also gets a couple of bows and another weapon I won’t mention here but I just want to focus on the bladed weapons for now).

I must say that I absolutely loved this design choice. I always loathe having to open the menu and sort through weapons to see which one does more damage and which one has this or that special ability. Having it narrowed down to just two weapons with specific uses (the katana for fighting and the tanto for sneak attacks) was a gift from above.

As for the armor, several different sets with their own style and looks can be acquired throughout the game. Each set has different bonuses (like being able to take more damage, enemies take longer to detect Jin while sneaking, etc.) but the list is way shorter than what you would find in most RPGs, however. Once again, I loved the fact that there weren’t too many options to choose from since it allowed me to just keep playing the game instead of spending an inordinate amount of time in menus sorting through equipment.

Although there isn’t much variety in the weapon and armor department that doesn’t mean that you can’t customize all of them or even improve them. You can gather resources (another thing that I’m not too fond of in games) to upgrade all of Jin’s equipment. Now, this is yet another reason why I love Ghost of Tsushima. There aren’t that many different kinds of resources to gather (and all of the resources are very plentiful). There are resources simply called supplies, iron, leather, and linen just to name a few. These can be found spread all around the map but mostly in and around manmade structures.

These supplies, once gathered, can be spent to upgrade both Jin’s weapons and armor. I especially love what the game says when upgrading the katana or the tanto. It simply states that, when upgraded, these weapons will “kill enemies faster.” It can’t get any easier to understand than that, folks. As for the armor, the upgrades provide bonuses in whatever effects the armor already have on them. If it lessens the damage Jin takes, then, once upgraded, it will absorb more damage. I love the way the game handles upgrades. It makes it so simple while also providing plenty of options at the same time.

Not only can the weapons and armor be upgraded but their looks can also be changed too. I know it’s going to be hard for some of you to imagine but, in Ghost in Tsushima, new skins for weapons and armor can just be found out in the world at no extra charge. Imagine that, will you. You are rewarded with new skins just for exploring the big and beautiful world of Tsushima. Wow, this is surely an alien concept for most of you younger gamers out there. Once again, this is yet another reason why I’m having such a good time with Ghost of Tsushima.

One Minor Annoyance:

1. The Touch Pad

I must say that the PS4’s Touch Pad hasn’t really been used that much by most games. At least, it hasn’t been used by the games I’ve been playing. In Ghost of Tsushima, the Touch Pad is mostly used for what is known as the Guiding Wind. Whenever you set a waypoint on the map, there is no glowing line that shows you the way to that location. Instead, you have to swipe the Touch Pad which blows the wind in the direction of your objective. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this feature. I was growing tired of the glowing lines lighting the way in video games. What I do have a problem with, however, is the fact that the Touch Pad has other uses besides the Guiding Wind.

You see, you can also use the Touch Pad to have Jin play a flute, unsheathe his sword, or even have him bow. My problem with this is that, while playing, my fingers on the analog sticks will sometimes brush the Touch Pad. This will, in turn, activate one of its many functions. The problem comes from Jin doing things that make no sense when paired with what is happening onscreen. There was nothing worse than when I was sneaking through an enemy encampment and suddenly Jin would stand up out of the weeds and take a bow. That always led to a bad time. Do you see the issue I’m having with the Touch Pad now? Maybe I’ve been using the controller incorrectly all these years. I don’t know but I can’t be the only person experiencing this problem.

Here we see Jin taking an inopportune bow.

And that about does it for Ghost of Tsushima for now. As I said, I haven’t finished the game yet but I’m getting close. I can’t wait to see how the game ends even though I’ll be sad once I’m done with it done since I’m having a really good time with it. I have been spending all of my free time playing it which is probably more than a little unhealthy. It doesn’t help that I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. That is, at least, until this Friday when Super Mario 3D All-Stars comes out. That is all I’ll be doing this coming weekend. It has already been decided. Anyways, I hope you all are well and I hope you all come back when I finally finish Ghost of Tsushima and give it a proper review. Goodbye!

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