‘Ghost of Tsushima’ Is a Pretty Game Built on an Old and Creaky Foundation

There were a handful of times during the dozen or so hours I recently spent with Ghost of Tsushima, a new open world samurai cop action game from Infamous developer Sucker Punch, where I’d deliberately pause whatever seemingly urgent mission I was on and idle in slack-jawed awe at what was displayed in front of me. The sake production facility that was on fire, I told myself, could wait. As clusters of vibrant leaves swirled abound and a patch of tall grass gently swayed beneath my feet, the sun would blast rays of blinding color that combined into something more than beautiful—it proved genuinely moving.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/akzj7e/ghost-of-tsushima-first-impressions-ps4-pretty-but-outdated

Yeah, this is what I was worried about, a lot of pretty (expensive) visuals and fleeting moments of serenity surrounded by an Open World Video Game™

And I guess the Japanese language track is kinda busted, which is a major bummer
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I love Waypoint. I do. I appreciate how they interweave aesthetics and politics and mechanics into one larger critique. But with a game like Ghost of Tsushima, that’s a game where I really want to know how it feels, so I’m really grateful to Patrick for bringing some of that classic “let me tell you about the game bits of this game” to his write-up. I find that kind of thing can get a little lost in Waypoint’s normal critiques in service of whatever the critical lens is through which they are viewing a particular game.


I read this line and was like “uh oh, what did they do!” I went as far as googling them before realizing “infamous” was the name of the game they made…


I’m OK with games using a familiar formula. Them doing their on twist on it or moving things forward would be neat but not a requirement for me. As long as they do it well then I’m happy. The game sounds like it’s exactly what I’d thought it would be from all the previews.

I suspect that in six months I will buy this game on sale, spend an enjoyable long weekend burning through it, and then never think about again.


This seems like a great month to pick up Sekiro and just tell people you’re playing Ghost of Tsushima.


This is 100% going to be PS+ fodder in a year or two.


The reception (from outlets I care about) is what I expected, I’ve already mentioned in another thread that this doesn’t appear to be playing to SP’s strengths of acrobatic characters exploring precarious heights.

My friend and I are going half-n-half on it so I’m expecting it to be totally perfunctory.

If this is to be “the review” for the game I’m curious why Patrick wrote it over one of the other people on staff who he says in the article finished the game. It probably wouldn’t change a ton, but I would still prefer to hear if the game finishes strong or changes in any meaningful way near the end. Maybe a lot of the duels Patrick wishes there were more of crop up near the finish. I try to finish most games I play so whether they finish strong is definitely a factor for me.

I haven’t played Ghost yet, so I can’t say for sure, but these early reviews are disappointing. I think Sucker Punch is a talented studio and, while I half expected this reception, I was hopeful that they might be able to pull off an interesting take on the open-world game. It seems the mass market peer pressure to have a ridiculously large map crammed to the brim with repetitive actives ultimately let this concept down.

I was also disappointed by God of War (2018), and I haven’t even got to Horizon or Spiderman since they also seemed to have the same issue as Ghost. It just seems like these Sony AAA Blockbusters are really letting me down, they just seem to blur together now with other first party titles or whatever is the hottest gaming trends of the past 2-5 years. I used to love Sony games, they published a wide range of small and large titles that weren’t for everyone, but they captured the imagination of some people. This generation of first/second party titles has been a real let down, and it only seems to be getting worse. There was only one Sony published game this gen that I truly loved, and it wasn’t even supposed to be a PS4 game.

There I go again, being a curmudgeon about video games.

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If you can find a way to at least give Spider-Man a shot without dropping a big chunk of change on it, you should at least give swinging around the city a shot. It’s the most fun thing I’ve ever done in a video game.

But yeah, I can see how folks would be disappointed by Sony’s first-party output homogenizing as much as it has.


I’ve thought about giving Spiderman a shot because the swinging sounds kool, but then I think… that’s it? This is also compounded by the fact that I’m not really a fan of superhero media in general. I don’t hate superheroes or anything, it just doesn’t capture my imagination personally.

If it’s on PS+ I’d give Spiderman a try for about an hour for that sweet swinging action, but then I’d probably forget about it myself. I could be wrong, maybe I’ll play it and really enjoy it, but I doubt it.

Thank you for the recommendation though!

This review confirms both my fears and hopes for this game. But I only really expected my fears to be confirmed, so this may be pushing it over the edge for me and I’ll probably pick it up. I can handle lame world structure for good combat, characters, and a beautiful world. That was Horizon, basically, and I loved that game. Though I’d be shocked if the combat here ends up being quite as fun as Horizon.

The “Kurosawa mode” just seems strange in naming and execution. He made one of his most visually distinctive samurai films in color. And his cinematography, one of the most famous aspects of his work, is impossible to replicate in a game that give the player control of the camera.

The game also makes incredibly use of color in its visual design and diegetic mechanics. Taking that away just seems like a disservice to the design team.

It also speaks to a larger issue with Sony’s house style. I like a lot of those games but in the interest of feeling “cinematic” they often use film techniques without understanding the reasons for them. God Of War, a game I really liked, made a big deal of being a single unbroken cut but the narrative and theme never really justified it. It kinda felt like they thought “the opening of Touch of Evil was really cool so doing that for a whole game will be extra cool”.


It is worth noting that they worked directly with his estate on it

The way they talk about Tsushima’s take on the Samurai caste on the pod, at about 30 minutes in, makes it sound like the game accidentally made Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, but with feudal Japan. Like, it’s a piece of pop culture made by a quasi-fascist Japan that is still ruled by the Shogunate. And now I think I have to play it, just to experience it

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I definitely noticed back in one of the streams that showed this game that the contrast in the black-and-white mode was off. Both compared to a Kurosawa - or indeed any black-and-white - movie, and from an accessibility perspective. The poor contrast makes it incredibly hard for me to discern things, doubly so when they make things like incoming attack indicators colour-coded.

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The AC modern day crap defender has logged on.

It annoys me so much when people have this absurd idea that getting rid of Desmond bungled the modern day AC. Ignoring, amongst other things, that Layla, the current modern day PC, is so much better than generic Nolan North character #17.


It may be the most unlikely of works to use as an example of how to interrogate the history of the samurai, but Grappler Baki literally reincarnates Musashi Miyamoto only to reveal that he’s a vicious, unfeeling murderer who wholly believes that might is right and is bemused by the fact that modern day Japan isn’t ruled by the strongest and most cruel of its people.

This is also the manga where Donald Trump pisses himself and swears fealty to a guy who does martial arts real good.