Ghost of Tsushima - PS4 Pro In depth Review + Analysis || Error69Pro

If a youthful obsession with Japanese samurai cinema and an audiobook version of Musashi has taught me anything it's that if you want to be a great sword fighter having a connection to nature is an important skill with a weapon that isn't purely driven by physical strength and technique but also the acuity that comes from observing trees mountains and rivers something like that while I can only really make guesses to how inspirational the rural areas of feudal japan would have been the scenic island portrayed in ghosts of Tsushima an open-world 13th-century samurai epic is one that often stirs something inside of me beyond being a game centered around flashy sword fights and the journey of Jinsakai to becoming a proto-ninja ghost of Tsushima invites you to lose yourself deeply in its grasslands forests and mountains.

Though the tasks you're given often aren't as brilliant as the color of the leaves there's certainly something wonderfully humbling about just riding your horse through this beautiful environment and taking it all in and what an immediately beautiful world it is full of bold saturated colors grandiose weather effects and an overabundance of windswept leaves petals butterflies and other small particles that make every location feel alive the island of Tsushima is a painters palette vibrant red and yellow forests sit on top of inviting green hills by day and blinding sunsets soak everything in a deep orange at night bright white moonlight glistens off dark blue lakes and waterfalls to illuminate everything around you the game has an option to turn everything black and white in order to mimic the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa but using it forgoes Tsushima's own distinct visual identity at times it almost feels as if the art direction is trying a little bit too hard to draw attention to itself and ghoster Tsushima certainly makes a concerted effort to try and absorb you into its radiant world even further with its deliberate lack of navigational information.

Gameplay & Mechanics :

There's no option for an on-screen mini-map or a compass to see which way you're going and objective markers are barely there instead the game features an in-world device called guiding wind in which the game's plethora of organic particles will subtly fall towards the location of whatever objective you need to reach a swipe of the dual shock's touchpad will magically and visibly summon a strong gust that kicks up even more particles in an almost comically self-indulgent way which acts as a more obvious nudge in the right direction and it's a great system without anything to draw your eyes away from your character in the world the guiding wind pushes you to pay more attention to your surroundings to let you more quickly internalize key landmarks that help you get your bearings more easily later on or just to feast your eyes other inward devices like plumes of smoke flying songbirds foxes tory gates talkative non-player characters and more helps to guide you towards new activities a lot of these activities.

Also work in service of making sure you see sushima's good side foxes will invite you to follow them down charming paths to nearby inari shrines torii gates will lead you to simple but daring looking platforming challenges that reward you with spectacular vistas haikus ask you to sit down and reflect on your picturesque surroundings and singing crickets will unlock songs for jun's flute which let you magically command the dramatic weather at will you get equipment early on that helps you track down the game's myriad collectibles through the guiding wind and controller vibration and some convenient touches like a generous and very quick loading fast travel system help make tsushima be an incredibly pleasant place to move through especially when you're armed with the game's robust photo mode to take screenshots with while you do need to enter a menu-based world map if you want to go somewhere specific without a marker to constantly signal your next objective's location you definitely get a little less obsessed with taking the most direct route and you feel more naturally inclined to just follow the winding roads around mountains and along riverbanks guiding wind creates a flow that gives you plenty of opportunities to drive your own curious exploration as an open world device.

It also succeeds in masking the feeling that you're simply being strung along by objective markers even though that's still exactly what you're doing that feeling still does come up unfortunately when ghost distinction is quests referred to as tales take all of the reigns tales fall back on rote open world quest structures where you do things like follow a quest giver to an objective maybe have a chat on the way and veering off the assigned path here isn't allowed sometimes you'll be asked to survey or examine an environment activities which have the ability to devolve into meticulous hunts for interactable hotspots some early tales have you chasing mcguffin after mcguffin to the point of being silly making you wonder if anything is going to happen at all anytime you're not engaged in combat a lot of these quests especially side quests can feel like a drag the cut scenes that host conversations between jin and other characters which give context to these tales largely feel stilted which further underscores the tedium that's not the fault of the acting ghost of tsushima has some passionate and strong sounding japanese voice work at least to my non-speaker ear though there is a visible disconnect with character lip syncing which keeps the mocap performances of the english cast who are notably all asian even though i prefer the japanese voice audio the two tracks do offer some differences in regards to their overall tone.

Voice work is largely let down by a noticeable lack of bodily expression in the almost motionless character models meaning you're basically just watching a couple of talking heads most of the time now obviously that's not uncommon to see in titles of this nature but it is a significant low point in a game that otherwise hits so many stylistic highs the cinematography which frames the characters in pleasing ways within the gorgeous scenery instead does the heavy lifting to make sure these regular moments are at least somewhat pleasing to the eye through wide shots do draw more attention to the fact that the two conversing bodies are standing perfectly still most of the time this means a lot of the games emotional arcs and vibrant characters don't hit as hard as they should ghost of Tsushima clearly aims to evoke golden age samurai cinema in many ways but it doesn't manage to capture even a tiny amount of their vigor.

In-Game Exploration  :

When it comes to exposition Tashiro Mifune level gusto is completely out of the question here now there are some exceptions to this the primary story quests give the characters involved a bit more freedom to move and naturally benefit from hosting the more interesting plot threats that of jin's inescapable metamorphosis from a by the book samurai square to something a lot more unscrupulous for the greater good and how this change affects the relationship with his loving but uncompromising father figure the combat encounters here also benefit from some great set pieces heightened by a strong musical score that helps construct those rousing blockbuster moments that always seem to be able to pull at your emotions no matter how impartial you're trying to be character-specific tales have a little more to offer too and see jin assist his closest allies with their own dire issues these multi-part questlines can feel like wild goose chases especially at the beginning of the game but they all offer their own interesting and violent stories of familial bonds one of the game's major running themes mythic tales are ghosts of Tsushima's most interesting quest offering though.

They are few in number these are explorations into the slightly more supernatural elements of the world featuring their own special animated introductions they attempt to pull away from the direct point-to-point structure of the other quests by asking you to do things like look at a hand-drawn map and use your own deductive exploration to find the objective location or they might offer simple mechanical twists they can still feel like wild goose chases but the rewards for the more involved nature of them are significant aside from the main questline this is your other avenue for earning new types of weapons armor and abilities usually after a climactic one-on-one boss duel those jewels and ghosts of tsushima's combat in general is where the game does successfully evoke samurai's cinema jin's katana remains your primary weapon throughout the whole game it can fell enemies in a few quick slices but likewise jin can also die quickly after a few good hits from opposing blades this means blocking parrying and dodging are the main skills you need to learn how to both use and overcome properly and though there's a lot more leeway here than something like sakura shadows die twice battles can still be over in seconds if you make blunders this gives every fight in the game a degree of heart heart-pounding tension.

The game's first fight to its final whether it be a lowly bandit or a master swordsman even in the otherwise wrote quests and no matter what difficulty you're playing on combat does a fantastic job at approximating the highly stylized version of one versus many sword fighting as you might have seen in films like harakiri or the samurai trilogy where long standoffs and quick flourished movements mark the ebb and flow of suspense and excitement most encounters can be initiated by triggering a one-on-one standoff a tense game of chicken where you need to wait until your enemy has committed to an attack and then counter it in the split second afterwards once that formality is passed enemies will often try to surround you and attack in tandem and decisive success often depends on patiently waiting for a clear opening for attack otherwise you might get interrupted by a follow-up blow perhaps you might need to wait for an attack so you can perfectly deflect it and counter or maybe you want to break someone's guard to stagger them with some decisive heavy strikes indiscriminate flailing will see you thrown off balance quickly a resolve meter which you charge by defeating enemies earns you opportunities to perform devastating special attacks or heal yourself creating small risk reward decisions to think about frequently changing your active fighting stance to better handle the different kinds of weapons your opponents are wielding adds to the many considerations.

You need to make as you do ranged opponents and the extra tools you'll eventually have at your disposal as jinn begins to learn more deceitful methods of combat unlike the game's quest cut scenes jin's suite of animations along with the gore and the foley associated with combat do a lot to make the act of sinking a katana into flesh feel meaningful little flourishes like how jin returns to stance after a kill and the graceful movements that accompany a successful parry give everything an observable flow switching stances which slows down time just before dodging a hit and responding with an advantageous technique feels really good in addition to exploring the world.

Combat System & Action :

Combat is where ghosts of tsushima's most transcendent moments lie but it's not without its flaws combat is sometimes let down by a couple of major factors when fighting on uneven terrain like staggered rock formations and inclines the tightly interlocked cause and effect of parries and blows starts to unravel resulting in holes where animations occur but their effects are not passed on the camera can also be an issue it should be noted that ghost of tsushima does not feature an enemy lock-on function as part of its tool suite presumably this is because enemies are constantly attacking you from all directions and you should always have the ability to react quickly but continually having to worry about the camera in order to keep an eye on every enemy within attack range while also thinking about parrying executing attack strings switching stances dodging ranged projectiles and keeping your health up so you don't die on the next hit can sometimes be a little much when you're fighting in an open grassy field and the camera actually pulls back a bit to frame the dozens of enemies closing in on you ghost of sushima's sword fighting is absolutely sublime but conditions aren't always perfect the biggest camera issues regularly arise.

When fighting in tight spaces indoors or in cluttered areas like enemy encampments of which there are many where tents fences crates and other such environmental objects exist too often will you find yourself in a situation where a solid object will be blocking your vision of gin your enemies or more importantly your enemies weapons all of the enemy attacks have a visible tell and in the case of stronger unblockable attacks they have distinctive red glints moments before they occur but much like agami ita's Sui wave slicer in the lone wolf and cub series which begins with ito lowering his sword beneath water please bear with me here, if you can't see what your enemy is doing with their weapon there is very little you can do to prevent your imminent death and that can be incredibly frustrating to you.

Game's Locations And Environment :

What you're doing when Mongol invaders turn up on the coast of Tsushima jin and his honor stricken samurai cohort find that their new enemies don't play by their overly formal rules of warfare jin very quickly learns to accept that he'll need to adopt more deceitful and vicious tactics to combat the overwhelming occupation of the island meaning he'll have to get used to hiding in the shadows stabbing people in the back and using a variety of tools to give himself an unfair advantage the kind of warfare tactics that were reportedly unheard of in 13th-century japan a viable option in most scenarios stealth is a relatively uncomplicated affair in ghosts of Tsushima enemies are often placed in convenient locations and are hard of hearing, in fact, nearby neutral NPCs will hilariously act dramatically to your actions while enemies stand motionless at the beginning of the game it also feels basic to a fault I remember lamenting the fact that there was no way to hide bodies. 

Even though guards are alerted upon discovering them but as you quickly earn new ghost tools to use and upgrade your tanto blade for quicker takedowns it becomes clearer that this isn't a stealth game focused on barely slipping by unnoticed though there are several annoying instants fail stealth and tailing quests but instead, it's the kind of stealth where you want to see how quickly and viciously you can take down everyone in the vicinity that ended up justifying the inability to hide bodies on top of explaining why jin's footsteps are silent, to begin with, and how he already managed to be a fearless climbing master even after I had completed the game's main quest I gained a lot of enjoyment from using the remaining enemy encampments as playgrounds to terrorize soldiers. I'd get creative with distraction tools use more environmental kills turn enemies against one another with hallucinogenic darts and hone my super long-range grenade throwing arm from the safety of a dark rooftop I climbed onto with a grappling hook ghost of Tsushima's story hits hard in the game's third and final act and it ends spectacularly it left me with the same kinds of strong emotions I felt at the end of all my favorite samurai film epics and had me eager to watch them all again the game hits a lot of fantastic cinematic highs and those ultimately lifted above the trappings.

Final Verdict :

Its familiar open-world quest design and all the innate weaknesses that come with it but those imperfections and dull edges are definitely still there the ghost of Tsushima are at its best when you're riding your horse and taking in the beautiful world on your own terms armed with a sword and a screenshot button allowing the environmental cues and your own curiosity to guide you it's not quite a criterion classic but a lot of the time it sure looks like one I've never seen a samurai fight like that it was nothing.

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