Ghost of Tsushima, an action-adventure game developed by Sucker Punch Productions, is still on track for release on June 26th, 2020 despite the COVID pandemic. Many companies are pushing back games’ release dates, however, Australia recently gave Ghost of Tsushima an MA15+ rating, meaning the game is likely on schedule. It also means it has “strong themes and violence” according to the rating. It seems Sucker Punch won’t be stopped from delivering the long awaited Samurai game in its truest form.
After Infamous First Light, Sucker Punch wanted an open world project where player choice would be crucial to gameplay. Ghost of Tsushima revealed stealth-action combat, game-world freedom, and time period accuracy, setting high expectations for the upcoming title. The game’s official website mentions the inclusion of: Blood and gore, intense violence, and partial nudity. This is in line with Sucker Punch’s desire to convey the feeling of “mud, blood, and steel” throughout the game.
Set on Tsushima Island, Feudal Japan in 1274, players assume the role of Jin Sakai, one of the last samurai. The Mongol empire has conquered and devastated many countries during its invasion, and Tsushima is the last obstacle between the Mongolian fleet and Japanese mainland. The game showcases various regions such as countrysides, fields, shrines, ancient forests, villages, and mountains on the island.
Game director Nate Fox said: “This is a game that is entirely grounded in reality…We’re trying hard to transport people to 1274 Japan. We’re inspired by history, but we’re not building it back stone by stone. We’re not trying to rebuild Tsushima island. Our protagonist is a work of fiction. We actually thought about using some historical figures, and we asked some people who are more culturally aware than us and they said that it would be insensitive, so we didn’t do it.”
While an open world action samurai game sounds promising, there are reasons for worry. While Sucker Punch created hit games like Infamous and Sly Cooper, their recent track record hasn’t been amazing. Infamous: Second Son’s campaign felt rushed and the gameplay itself was average at best. It wasn’t terrible, and the unique powers were interesting, but it wasn’t groundbreaking. From what can be seen of Ghost of Tsushima, combat may be bland compared to modern samurai games like Sekiro.
Gameplay footage reveals a combat system similar to most modern melee games. There’s an attack button (possibly two for light and heavy attacks), block, counter/parry, and dodge. Jin can be seen dodging to the side at the last second to initiate a slow motion counter followed by dishing out brutal finishers with his sharp blades. Stealth plays similarly to Assassin’s Creed, involving crouching and sneaky executions.
It looks fun to play but there’s worry Sucker Punch won’t give players any groundbreaking gameplay mechanics. Most of what’s seen in the videos is standard practice for open world melee games. The devs will have to come up with some unique twists for it to stand out in the current market. Hopefully Sucker Punch has surprises in store, as very little has been revealed so far.
There’s also the worry of a possible delay. Though the game being rated in Australia is a great sign, no one can really be certain what will unfold with the current pandemic. For now, at least, chances are good that Ghost of Tsushima will release June 26th, unless the devs announce a delay in the coming days.
After the first wave of the Mongol invasion, Tsushima Island lies devastated, its samurai defeated by impossible odds. One of the few survivors, Jin, must learn to adapt from his samurai training and fight using non-traditional methods. Mastering the way of the Ghost, Jin fights for the freedom of Japan and his people. It’s a narrative like this that creates excitement and leads to beautiful storytelling and vistas. It’s clear Sucker Punch is trying to stay historically accurate without being insensitive to Japanese culture, which speaks to their commitment.
The hopes for Ghost of Tsushima lay in its setting and story telling. One video shows Jin fighting 1v1 with an opponent under a large tree as leaves fall, covering the ground. Leaves are pushed aside as the combatants dance amidst the warm glow of a setting sun. It’s scenery like this that remains in the hearts of gamers and provides depth to the world. Even if the combat is merely passable, good ambiance and historically rich environments could make it a hit.
According to devs, the game will not feature waypoints and players will be free to explore the world. Nate Fox, Ghost of Tsushima’s director, mentioned the team focusing on “the fantasy of becoming a samurai”. To ensure historical accuracy, they consulted experts and sent audio teams to Japan to record several sounds for the game, including bird songs. There is inspiration from Japanese samurai movies like Seven Samurai and Sanjuro. Historical sword-fighting expert David Ishimaru was even consulted to help create an accurate foundation for the game’s combat.
Sucker Punch has invested much into the game’s setting, and hopefully it pays off. Considering all the possible environments players will find themselves in, along with the true-to-era architecture, clothing, and fighting styles, there’s a lot to be excited for. There is sure to be a variety of armors for Jin to wear, though it’s uncertain whether they will be cosmetic or provide actual stat benefits.
The Island Ghost
It’s quite a different project than their previous games, but Ghost of Tsushima has the potential to be a hit if everything goes off without a hitch. Feudal Japan is not a setting used often in open world games, and the time period’s feud only adds to its allure. There should be depth to the ambiance, a historical richness players can experience on their adventure. The hours of work Sucker Punch has put into cultural and historical research reflects this.
Watching Jin’s journey unfold as he learns to adapt from conventional samurai combat to ninja stealth in order to fight back against the mongols sounds fun. Exploring Tsushima Island’s open world with its forests, mountains, fields, etc, will make watching that journey even better. Hopefully Sucker Punch makes combat fun and challenging, or at least not clunky. And most of all, here’s hoping the game stays on course and releases on schedule, so fans can finally become the Ghost of Tsushima.