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Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut Review

Initial release date: July 17, 2020 Director's Cut: August 20, 2021

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions

Designer: Darren Bridges

Composers: Ilan Eshkeri, Shigeru Umebayashi

Awards: BAFTA Games Award for Audio Achievement, The Game Award for Best Art Direction

Genres: Role-playing video game, Action-adventure game, Stealth game

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

"Review Copy Provided By Sony"

Ghost of Tsushima originally released in 2020 for the PS4 and was the best game to release that year; fast forward a year later and it now has a remaster for the PS5 with a ton of added content and a much higher graphical fidelity taking advantage of the power of the PS5. The question now is does this remaster have what it takes to draw people back in for another romp through Japan with Jin Sakai? Let’s find out!

Story

The story of Ghost of Tsushima stars lone Samurai Jin Sakai on the island of Tsushima in the year 1274 as he is one of the island’s last known samurai during the first Mongol invasion of Japan. During this time, the Mongol Empire had been conquering country after country with their weaponry and military tactics that were unknown to all whom encountered them. With the Mongols setting their sights on conquering Japan and pillaging the land, all that stands between them and conquest is Jin who is the last surviving member of his clan. Jin struggles to maintain the way of the samurai and the code of Bushido as he comes to the realization that the ways of the sword that he has been trained in are ultimately ineffective against such a ruthless and barbaric force and thus he must learn the ways of the Ghost which is a fighting style that is unconventional in the face of traditional kenjustsu and use it to defeat the Mongols and protect the island of Tsushima and ultimately the entirety of Japan.

Gameplay

One word of advice I have for you is to please TAKE YOUR TIME with this game! There is absolutely no need to rush through this game as while you can beat this game within 45 hours or so if you go after just the main story; the amount of side quests you can experience will extend that gameplay bay another 70-100 hours or more. There is simple so much to explore and experience in this game that you’ll find yourself immersed in the world and losing track of the hours that pass.


The gameplay in Tsushima is very fun and fluid while being focused on fluid swordplay. You’ll find battles unfolding in incredibly life like battles that have you switching your stance on the fly to acclimate both to the environments you’re in as well as the enemies that you’ll be facing from bandits, samurai, ronins, and the main villain’s being the Mongols. You have a fast attack, heavy attack that you can charge, and can block which allows you to parry attacks. The various stances that you have vary from being effective against one-on-one fights as well as one vs many and even unlock stances from defeating various Mongols that allow you to take on shield bearing enemies, spear wielders, and more as you switch on the fly in mid combat.


Ghost of Tsushima will have enemies being relentless in how they want to cleave your head from your shoulders by going after you in massive groups often times forcing you to run and hide where even if you hide they will continue to hunt you down. This is probably the most realistic enemy AI I have seen in a game thus far.

There’s the Ghost tools that are not as honorable to use such smoke bombs, kunai, black powder bombs and more that give you an upper hand in combat. The best way to describe the Ghost mechanic is that it’s psychological warfare to strike fear in your enemies by utilizing either stealth to kill as many enemies as possible or utilize theatrical and brutal killings.


The standoff mechanic allows you to issue a challenge to your opponents and is a way to gain resolve points which allow for special attacks and is very much rooted in the real-life way that Samurai fought in feudal Japan.


Duels are one on one with you and the boss utilizing everything from your kenjustsu, kiai, and swordsman spirit. Duels feature different camera angles to give you a cinematic view of your battle with the bosses that you are engaging in and because of how duels are handled, you won’t have access to the Ghost mechanics and tools.

You can do various minigames such as following characters to shrines, writing Haikus, and even practicing Iaido by cutting bamboo which boost your various stats.


A cool yet random feature is that you can play your flute to change the weather


The skill tree system is incredibly in-depth with options to help with exploration, stealth, Ghost methods and more. There’s a tremendous amount of armor that gives you different buffs and you can change their cosmetic looks and more.


There’s the isle of Iki to explore which continues the story of Jin and his battles as a samurai along with the multiplayer mode allowing you to fight with honor (or dishonor) with several friends.


There’s so much to this game that I honestly won’t say more as I really want you all to experience this majestic experience on your own.

Graphics

Tsushima looked phenomenal when it launched last year on PS4, and it didn’t matter whether you ran this game on the base PS4 or the PS4 Pro because it was so well optimized and always looked great. A year later and its now available on the PS5 and it not only runs at native 4K but at a locked 60FPS and has an even higher level of graphical fidelity than the original release! The game has a level of detail that rivals everything on the market right now with the character models looking life like with muscle inflections, skin blemishes and scars, and even individual strands of hair in facial hair and eyebrows; I haven’t seen a game go to this level of detail to blur the lines of making a game look NOT like a game if that makes any sense.

The presentation of cutscenes from ink brush drawings with narration to the flowing of grass and cherry blossom trees and the fog from waterfalls and more are all photorealistic and atmospheric. Cutscenes utilize a cinematic letterbox style that brings you back to the days of cinematic samurai movies such as Akira Kurosawa films like Sanjuro (1962) and Seven Samurai (1954) and even The Last Samurai and more.


The island of Tsushima is jaw dropping with its flora and fauna looking simply majestic. I haven’t seen nature look so beautiful in a game before and to give an example there are times when you are running in the forest with the wind blowing with leaves flying around and dust kicking up with a red setting or rising sun…….just imagine running around in that kind of environment with no loading screens to generate these effects.

Audio

One word: MAJESTIC! Everything from the sound of steel on steel and steel on bone sounds as realistic as you’d imagine they’d sound. The ambience of nature such as the rustling of grass and even the flowing of the wind and rain, waterfalls falling down cliffs, and the voice acting are all just majestic and have set a new standard for what we should expect in cinematic games such as these.


SuckerPunch did so well with the audio that during combat you can utilize audio cues to know where enemies are coming from and attacking as well as where flying arrows are coming at you and if you pay attention closely then you can use this to your advantage.

Downsides

I’ve got nothing to bring up in the downsides. This game is just stellar.

The Wrapup

Remasters are most definitely a reality when it comes to games these days as many will release and in a year of that release it will have a remaster with more content. Many hate this and yet others accept it as the norm of gaming. So, when the magnum opus of Samurai games in Ghost of Tsushima that is head and shoulders above anything that is on the market gets a remaster/directors cut then I’m all for it especially when I get more content overall. If you are looking for another game to play on your PS5 or if you're looking to play new conten