Today Sucker Punch showcased the first Ghost of Tsushima footage, exploring a deeply cinematic samurai epic that would've made Akira Kurosawa proud.
Akira Kurosawa's samurai films typically spin tales about scarred and psychologically-damaged heroes who take on impossible odds. Some, like Zatoichi, simply aim to roam, but their deadly skills always attract chaos. Others, like the Seven Samurai, must stand against hordes of bandits. There's always a sense of dire seriousness to the films, a kind of bold valor that permeates throughout. Ghost of Tsushima replicates that feeling, but also plays with the duality of man: The shadow who cares only for killing by any means possible, and the noble hero who stands and fights with pride. In Ghost of Tsushima, you can become the shadow that roams the night or a walking fortress of honor.
To me, this is the most interesting thing about Ghost of Tsushima, this duality. The world pays attention to your choices and your deeds and reacts accordingly. The game is centered around building the legend of Jin Sakai. How you build that legend is up to you.
Play as the Ghost and brutally murder your enemies from the darkness, and they'll become afraid. They'll learn to fear you, always thinking your out there, slinking in the night as some supernatural assassin. Some will throw their weapons down and flee. Others will scream in terror. But as the Ghost, you indiscriminately kill. You're not a man, but a shadow, a ghost that haunts the hearts and minds of Mongols.
Conversely, you can enter battles as the honorable samurai and face your foes head-on with confidence and determination. Even the combat reflects a cinematic scope, bringing weight and a different kind of immersion to the action-oriented gameplay. The strikes look meaningful and reflect the open-world slow burn experience the game offers.
This kind of balance and harmony is up to players. They can transform Jin Sakai into the Ghost, or become the noble samurai. Or both. And as you build your legend, whether in deed or in blood, the world will take notice.
Apart from the story themes--which are built around vengeance, traversing a wide landscape, and also making an inner and outer transformation, all hallmarks of Kurosawa's work--Ghost of Tsushima's main homage to the legendary filmmaker is more obvious.
The game features a special black and white mode that lets you turn the game into a Kurosawa film. As beautiful and enchanting as the island of Tsushima is, this is how I'll be playing the game. It adds that extra layer of authenticity and a stoic, almost grim beauty that mirrors Kurosawa's films.
Sucker Punch has created something special here, something that comes around once in a generation, and its clear the PlayStation 4 is winding down in the best way possible.
Ghost of Tsushima launches in two months on July 17, 2020 exclusively on the PlayStation 4.