1274 Japan was a world I never thought I would be able to explore through the comfort of my own home and the port of PS4 exclusivity. Graciously, developers Sucker Punch encapsulates stunning Japanese landscapes on the island Tsushima, while simultaneously juggling the themes of honour and revenge throughout its story with protagonist Jin Sakai and the fight against the invading Mongols.
The story tread waters similar to that of Sony’s June exclusive release: The Last of Us Part II. Jin’s story follows the hardship of the samurai title, and the honour that needs to be upheld with it, even when the people of Tsushima are put into danger because of it.
After being defeated on the beaches of Komoda by invading Mongol forces, Jin spends this 60+ hour journey reclaiming his home of Tshuima while experiencing the brutality of war and the expectations of the honourable title of samurai.
Missions are split into three types: Jin’s Journey, Tales of Tsushima, and Mythic Tales.
‘Jin’s Journey’ contains the main quests of Jin and Lord Shimura’s arc and their quest to defeat the Mongol’s leader, Khotun Khan.
Unfortunately, story missions vary in terms of enjoyability. Some are memorable battles to eradicate Mongol forces and fortresses. Unfortunately, others suffer from tedious ‘follow’ segments like the early Assassins Creed works. They appear multiple times throughout both the main missions and the side quests and offer mindless gameplay that feels like more of a chore than entertainment.
Along with this, forced stealth segments within this game are tiresome and outdated. While the stealth mechanics in this game are not bad by any means, restricting the way the player approaches these missions make the story feel linear and removes room for creativity. This contrasts heavily with the exploration that Sucker Punch’s world provides.
This open world is one of the best that Sony’s exclusive title line on the PS4 has to offer. Whether you are weaving between cold midnight blue trees of Kushi’s Serene Forest or looking out at sea on top of one of Tsushima’s many lighthouses, the world is simply stunning. My deepest regret is not experiencing this world on a 4K television through a PS4 Pro but I believe that even through the restricted bounds of my PS4 Slim, I managed to absorb most of the full potential that this Japanese Isle has to offer.
The scope of the screen during this game is not encumbered by a mini map either. A ‘guiding wind’ means that an unrestricted view of the world is available to the player. I found this fresh and while in most games there is an option to turn off mini maps and HUD’s, no game of this scale intertwines and pulls it off this well. I was never confused in this game as to where I should be going and while you can swipe up on the touch pad to summon a gust of wind that blows in the direction of your current objective, I never found myself needing to do this. Instead, you can follow the drifting of tree leaves of cherry blossoms to guide you to your next objective.
As you travel the land, you will come across Mongol forces in whom you will need to defeat to reclaim Tsushima. Combat is challenging and well-constructed. Each fight is a different experience and encapsulates the brutality of 13th century katana vs katana warfare. Blood splatters from the end of the clan Sakai’s katana as you slash your way through a Mongol camp. Jin’s arsenal does not end with his katana. Throughout the game, poison darts, sticky bombs and bows are only a few items that add variety to each enemy encounter. This is also balanced with a ‘stance’ system which requires you to switch between different styles to defeat different enemy types e.g.: the water stance is required to defeat enemies with spears while shielded enemies would be best fought with the earth stance. Each adds a layer to combat that keeps the game fresh and organic, from my first hour all the way to my 60th.
There is plenty to do being the Ghost of Tsushima. Whether it be reclaiming Mongol camps or uncovering all the fox shrines, there is plenty to get your hands on. However, as I approach 100% completion, I have asked myself whether I will play this game again and right now, I cannot say with confidence that I will. To me, I do not believe that this game has done enough for it to suck me back into its world in the future. It is a beautiful game yes, and has a good combat structure but these two things alone have not enticed me enough to recommend a second playthrough and leaves me with a slither of regret for not waiting for this game to go on sale.
I would buy this game for £32:99