Just about a month after The Last of Us: Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima is the next big PS4 exclusive game. The open-world action adventure by Infamous developer Sucker Punch is therefore under double pressure. It mustn't go under in the ongoing hype about the second The Last of Us and as the last big first-party game of this generation of Playstation, you naturally expect the title to qualitatively follow in the great footsteps of previous exclusive hits like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Spider -You kick Uncharted 4 or God of War.

In addition, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, there were no preview options for the press before the release, and potential buyers were also unable to attract the title to trade fairs. So is the game under a bad star? Can't deliver the last big exclusive game of this era? We have made you skeptical of Ghost of Tsushima with these lines (buy now for € 224.19) made? Hopefully not, because the title defies all adverse conditions, delivers the usual high Sony quality, but is refreshingly different in terms of setting and gameplay. Sucker Punch brings the aged console a real highlight at the end!







The Mongols outnumbered the Japanese in terms of war technology.



The Mongols outnumbered the Japanese in terms of war technology.

Source: PC Games




Ghost of Tsushima takes place in Japan in 1274 and we take on the role of the young samurai Lord Jin Sakai. After the death of his parents, Sakai was raised by his uncle Shimura, who ruled the small island of Tsushima as a prince in the name of the shogun. However, there is no easy Lord life for our protagonist, because the Mongols start their invasion in Japan, and that starts on Tsushima of all places.

Jin, his uncle and about 80 other brave samurai oppose the Mongolian force led by Khotan Khan, even though they know they have no chance against the huge army and should only slow down the invasion so that the troops have more time, to form on Kyushu. The game begins with the battle on the beach and we experience a real bloodbath. The Japanese are not only outnumbered by the invaders, the Mongols also use weapons such as hwachas or black powder bombs.

The samurai are being mown down around us, and Jin eventually falls to the ground among the bodies of his comrades. Miraculously, however, he survives his serious injuries and is cared for by the thief Yuna. Jin tells her that the Mongols have already taken half of the island. But more importantly, Khotun Khan imprisoned Prince Shimura. With his father's katana and the honor of the samurai, Jin faces the Khan, but is subject to it and barely escapes with life. However, his uncle remains trapped.

Jin realizes that the samurai's code of honor against these opponents alone will not allow him to survive. He needs allies and a new strategy. But can he simply put the code down for a short time and fight the invaders dishonestly? Does the end justify the means here? Jin faces a great moral dilemma, but for us an exciting, multifaceted story unfolds, which convinces with many interesting characters and, above all, the wonderfully staged path of our internally torn hero.






Similar to the Assassin's Creed assassins, Jin Sakai carries out hidden attacks.



Similar to the Assassin's Creed assassins, Jin Sakai carries out hidden attacks.

Source: PC Games




The mind and darkness

Sucker Punch could have made it easy and just told how the protagonist wants to save his home from the evil invaders. But the studio cleverly uses this as a premise to tell a very personal story about a warrior who only becomes a hero by renouncing his morals and maybe even giving up on himself. The path from Jin Sakai is exciting to the end, which is also due to the well-written supporting characters, who each influence Jin in her own way.

Khotan Khan is a cunning warlord who shrinks from nothing and is therefore an excellent antagonist who with his atrocities keeps pushing you to smash the Mongols. Prince Shimura, on the other hand, is the classic samurai. The word of the shogun is law and a samurai can only act according to the code. At the same time, he is also a father figure that Jin loves. The thief Yuna shows Jin's fighting methods that he has never seen and never believed he would ever have to use himself. Yuna appears cold at first, but there are good reasons why she behaves this way.







Khotan Khan is a cunning, unscrupulous warlord and therefore a really good antagonist.



Khotan Khan is a cunning, unscrupulous warlord and therefore a really good antagonist.

Source: PC Games




We don't want to reveal too much here either, because it is incredibly interesting to get to know the supporting characters and slowly learn their backgrounds. The characters are part of the main quest, but also offer their own optional quest lines, in which we help them. The clever sake trader Kenji, for example, always comes up with new things to cheat the Mongols, while the master archer Ishikawa wants to track down his former student, who opposed him and now trains the Mongols in his archery.

In these quests too, Jin's moral compass is put to the test again and again. Like in a GTA, there is a fixed group of characters who offer us quests. Some figures grow dear to us, others awaken our mistrust. The main story also benefits from these tasks, in which we learn more about the background of our allies. The helpers in Jin's freedom fight are not just any NPCs to which you have no connection, but characters with their own, understandable motivations.







The individual stories and backgrounds of the supporting characters are really interesting and nicely underpin the main story.



The individual stories and backgrounds of the supporting characters are really interesting and nicely underpin the main story.

Source: PC Games




Of course, you don't only get quests from allies. On our trip across the island, we always meet citizens who, as supposedly the last samurai of Tsushima, beg for help. These sometimes very short tasks very often tell small stories, so you are also motivated to complete these rather unimportant quests. If you concentrate on the main story alone, Ghost of Tsushima will probably be finished in about 20 hours, but if you also dedicate yourself to the optional quests and other side tasks, you can easily add the same playing time again. Rather more.

Anyone who does things outside of the campaign also makes life a lot easier because you get small rewards everywhere that you can equip or with which you can upgrade yourself or your martial arts. In any case, there is so much to discover on the island that there is really no other way than to be distracted and get lost in the beautiful, varied game world.






If we swipe up on the touchpad, the wind shows us in which direction our mission goal is.



If we swipe up on the touchpad, the wind shows us in which direction our mission goal is.

Source: PC Games




As with history, Sucker Punch also took some creative liberties when designing the game world. While the real Tsushima is rather uniformly green, there are different climate zones, forests, mountain regions or swamps in the virtual variant. The PS4-Tsushima is sometimes rainy, brown and mushy, sometimes it blooms in the most beautiful colors. The different areas are visually wonderfully varied, but the transitions are fluid, so that the game world feels believable and organic at all times.

This also means that we can set waypoints, but the path is not shown to us on a mini map. Instead, we let nature guide us. Let us swipe up on the touchpad, sweep the wind over the area and show us where to go. If we approach the goal, a marker shows us exactly where we should go or who we should address. This feature works very well and fits well into the story of the island defending itself against the invaders with all its might. In general, the wind is of course also interesting in a historical context, after all, the kamikaze, the divine wind, actually ensured that the Mongol invasion was stopped at the time.

Jin's closeness to nature goes even further. The map of the game world is largely covered by fog, which only clears when we are in the respective area. However, little golden birds keep telling us about interesting things in the area. For example, they lead us to hot springs where we expand our health bar, or to places where we write haikus to get new headgear.







We train at bamboo stands to get more determination.



We train at bamboo stands to get more determination.

Source: PC Games




There are also bamboo stands where we can increase our determination (more on that later), or also burrows. There we meet (who would have thought?) A fox who leads us to an Inari shrine. If we pray before that, we get new places for talismans. We receive talismans in addition to experience points at quest completions and they give us various offensive or defensive bonuses.

The mountain shrines represent a completely different form of reward. The paths to the holy sites were destroyed by the Mongols, so we have to find a new way to the summit. To do this, we embark on playfully very simple but grandiose-looking climbing tours. When we pray at the shrine, we also get a special talisman, but the real reward is the mostly beautiful view of the island.

In addition to these beautiful things in the game world, however, we also repeatedly come across individual Mongolian groups, prisoner transports, bandits or aggressive wild animals, with whose fur we can expand ammunition bags. In addition, there are of course all kinds of Mongolian camps and forts to be conquered or destroyed. If we kill enough Mongol leaders in camps, we will unlock a new fighting stance (more on that as well).







Bathing in hot springs easily increases our maximum health.



Bathing in hot springs easily increases our maximum health.

Source: PC Games




As if that weren't enough of an activity, you can find particularly difficult opponents in some places who challenge you to a duel, and there are several treasure hunts in the game. Everywhere in Tsushima there are musicians who tell legends about special weapons, armor or fighting techniques. If we put the tips together correctly, we get precisely those legendary objects, some of which offer very special bonuses.

Tsushima may not be the largest open world, but the island is ingeniously designed, offers a variety of visuals and numerous side tasks, all of which give you useful rewards. Since the activities are not just points on the map, we never had the feeling that we were only working through a task list. Rather, they look great integrated into the world and we enjoyed the noticeable progress because our Jin benefited from every side task solved.






The duels in the game often act as boss fights and are gripping and ingeniously staged.



The duels in the game often act as boss fights and are gripping and ingeniously staged.

Source: PC Games




Ghost of Tsushima is not particularly innovative when it comes to the quest design, but rather offers standard food. The best way to compare it with the Assassin's Creed series. Most of the time, we have to penetrate an enemy area to free hostages, obtain certain objects, or simply send all of our opponents across the Jordan. In some missions we have to go undetected, but in most cases we can choose whether to take a creeping approach or to openly and honestly fight the Mongols.

For both methods we get more and more gadgets and skills in the course of the game. For example, we can distract opponents with fireworks, lure them into a certain corner with wind bells, or we learn to chain secret attacks. In addition, we even have two sheets at hand, are allowed to throw smoke and sticky bombs or, like Ubisoft's assassin, can carry out jump attacks from an elevated position.







With fire arrows we can ignite dry grass to burn enemies.



With fire arrows we can ignite dry grass to burn enemies.

Source: PC Games




However, it is particularly satisfying if you use the surrounding area to take the Mongols around the corner. For example, we can shoot an arrow at a wasp nest, break fire bowls when there are enemies underneath, or simply shoot a fire arrow into the dry grass through which a patrol is currently moving. We have by no means mentioned all gadgets and removal options here. The game always gives us new tools to fight the invaders from the hidden. As a result, the mostly fairly uniform missions never get boring.

It may all sound like Assassin's Creed in Japan, but there are some differences. Ghost of Tsushima not only offers a much better narrative with interesting characters, but also a much stronger staging. There are always real highlight missions where we storm a castle. We really don't want to say more here. Ghost of Tsushima actually offers some surprises and of course we don't want to destroy them.

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