Hi all, sorry it has been a while since writing anything on here. What with all that is happening around the world, and the sad loss of our little dog, it’s been a turbulent year. My last gaming post was about Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which I ended up adoring, achieving both the Platinum (which I am not always bothered about anymore) and 100% on all the DLC packs. Since then, Resident Evil 3 has been and gone, as well as the much-hyped The Last of Us Part II, both of which I played and finished. I was going to write about TLOUPII, however, I worried about the risk of ruining it for people, therefore, thought I would hold off. So, on to another much anticipated PlayStation exclusive, Ghost of Tsushima!
I have managed to spend at least 5 or 6 hours on the island of Tsushima so far (I wish there was a playtime tracker like in AC:O & TLOUPII), and barring the initial ‘wow this game is beautiful, I’m gonna to spend all my time in photo-mode’ reaction, I wanted to put some of my thoughts into writing.
Having sunk 130+ hours into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, there is certainly a familiar and comforting feel to the mechanics of Ghost of Tsushima. The combat is mapped to the controller in a similar way (well at least it was for me as I ALWAYS change the attack actions to the face buttons), the world map is ‘fogged’ out until you have explored the area, the combat is a mixture of stealth and all out attack, and you have a trusty stead that makes covering large distances quicker, heck, you even have a bow and arrow for your ranged attacks.
The first thing I wanted to mention (which is a tiny touch, but a nice one) was the default speed at which your horse moves. Even pushing the left stick fully, you’ll notice it only travels at a trotting speed. I am certain this is because Sucker Punch want the player to soak up the atmosphere of the world they have created, rather than race through it. You can of course get running, with a quick click of L3.
As with all open-world games, making the world diverse, and the exploration compulsive is a must. It certainly helps for me having a huge interest in Japan and the historic lore of Samurai (sadly our month in Japan has also been cancelled this year). It isn’t long before I found myself checking the map, and just traveling between each of the question marks (undiscovered areas) instead of progressing through the narrative. I did this exact thing on AC:O. So far I’ve explored dense, green forests, beautiful lake islands, Mongol occupied dojo’s and bright, colourful orchards. It certainly feels diverse, even if it isn’t the largest of maps. The transition between night and day, along with atmospheric weather effects all add to the stunning setting too. I would take a stab in the dark that I will very much enjoy my time on Tsushima Island.
Combat feels more intricate, and much more deadly than the aforementioned Odyssey. A couple of missed timed parries (on ‘normal’ difficulty at least) and you’re crawling along the floor waiting to be finished off. It feels like you’re constantly on a sword-edge between being unstoppable and being overwhelmed/sliced to pieces. Obviously it takes a long time for control and combat schemes to become second nature, but I would imagine this mirrors how deadly fighting a samurai warrior would be. One huge bonus, is that there is little to no penalty for death, and the speed at which you are thrown back into the action is quite a surprise (it’s not Jedi: Fallen Order Quick, but certainly you aren’t waiting an age like Assassin’s). This at least takes some tension out of it if like me you are a stressful person 🙂
I also wanted to mention the UI (User Interface) I’ve encountered so far. I LOVE the typography design, the choice of font, and the way it is displayed while you play. As a designer myself, it is hugely pleasing and inspirational (I have a copy of the brand guidelines for the game and they are stunning – let me know if you’d like to see them). The menu system is also super clean, and fairly simple too, without layers and layers of options and settings to go through (something that really put me off while playing Death Stranding).
The Photo-mode needs a quick mention too, which for a game as pretty as this, will be a large time-sink for many gamers. While the options aren’t as deep as other titles, there are some lovely touches, like being able to switch the weather and even the wind speed. You can even export an animated image and save it as a .gif if you desire – although I prefer the sharpness of a PNG…
So, so far, so good. I have not really experienced any janky issues, my PS4 Pro runs quietly while playing, and I’ve not glitched through the floor to an ever-ending expanse. But, I am only on initial impressions. Hopefully I will come back and write some more when I have completed the story. I would be interested to hear what you all think too, feel free to tweet me about it 🙂 see you soon, and thanks for reading ∆\