A couple of weeks ago we finally got an eighteen-minute gameplay demo of the anticipated upcoming game Ghost of Tsushima, and unlike UbiSoft, this was a REAL gameplay demo. Numerous other people have done their reaction videos, so I'm not going to do a scene by scene breakdown. I just want to give my thoughts on what we saw.
Now in the interest of fairness, I am admittedly biased, this is a game I am super excited for, and have been for a while. But even with my predisposition towards this game, I think I can objectively say it looks great. The visuals are stunning, Tsushima looks beautiful and seeing it made me want to explore every inch of it. According to the dev narrating the demo, exploring will be a big part of the game; and naturally there's plenty of hidden secrets to find. The HUD takes up a minimum of space on screen, and instead of a yellow line or an arrow to show you the way to your destination, you follow a gust of wind.
The combat looks fantastic, and as the demo showed, there's two different styles that you can switch between. One the one hand you have the traditional Samurai style which seems to be based on honor and one hit kills. We see Jin (our protagonist) walk into a Mongol camp in broad daylight wearing full Samurai armor and kill every single person in the camp, usually with one hit. Twice he cuts an arrow shot at him in half. Now most people would understandably say that's unrealistic and a bit too "video-gamey," for lack of a better term, even though it's pretty cool. For most games I'd probably agree, except there are Japanese sword masters that can ACTUALLY do that. And if you don't believe me, google Machii Isao. When all the Mongols are dead, Jin bows respectfully to the body of the last man.
Then there's the Ghost style, whereas the devs put it "Jin will use every dirty trick in the book." We see the same Mongol camp attacked, but this time it's at night and Jin uses distractions and stealth to sneak through the defenses and silently take his enemies out. When the alarm finally rings and the Mongols realize who they're dealing with, they become afraid. One actually runs away and another falls down, attempting to crawl away. Jin impales him, it's great. Apparently the more Jin uses the Ghost style, the more he becomes known and eventually enemies start to become afraid of him. Both of these styles look awesome, and I can't wait to try them both out, before inevitably going with the traditional fighting as I am hilariously terrible at stealth games. In retrospect, it's a miracle I ever beat Shadow Tactics.
The last few things don't get as much focus as the combat and exploration section, but it's still enticing. We get a brief glimpse of the Japanese language mode, which is absolutely how I will be playing this game, customization for weapons and armor, and a black and white mode that makes the game look like a classic Samurai film. All in all, this looks exactly like the Samurai game I've always wanted, and I can't wait.
A few things before wrapping up, the handful of criticisms I've seen/heard tend to be along the lines of "Oh, here's another open world game," or "this is Assassin's Creed Japan." I don't think either of those are really fair. Yes, we've seen open-world games more and more over this console generation, to the point where one could argue that's becoming the standard. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I think the reason games are headed in that direction is because computers and consoles are now powerful enough that open sandboxes are viable. As for the "Assassin's Creed Japan" argument, Sucker Punch's last three games were all open-world games. And yet Infamous was different enough that people didn't just compare it to Assassin's Creed, or at least not that I remember. So, I trust that Ghost of Tsushima will be able to stand out on its own. But hypothetically, let's say it does end up just being Assassin's Creed Japan, I'm fine with that. Hell, I've been arguing that Assassin's Creed NEEDS to do a game (or three) in Japan for a while. To be honest I think they still should. Maybe I'm biased, or maybe it's because of my ADHD, but I tend to like open-world gameplay loops, whether it's an action game or an RPG. Even if Ghost of Tsushima doesn't do anything new gameplay wise, that's fine as long as it's done well. Take Horizon Zero Dawn for example, the best new IP of this generation in my opinion, it doesn't do anything new gameplay wise. There's an open world, towers to climb to open the map view, things to collect, bandit camps to take out, etc. But it didn't matter that it didn't offer new gameplay, because they WAY in which it was done, along with very tight controls, was so fricking good.
So, what do you guys think, are you looking forward to this? Do you think it is just another open world game? Let me know. I'll be reviewing this when it comes out, provided 2020 doesn't kill us all first. So, you know, I'd say the odds are about fifty-fifty. Until next time, Jaa-ne!