Although a poet would say something more profound and interesting than me about the relationship between external beauty and inner emptiness, I am going to be simpler when talking about Ghost of Tsushima, one of the most beautiful open world video games ever made but which at the same time does not innovate enough in the genre.
Its protagonist is Jin Sakai, the heir to a clan of samurai who is left with nothing, neither fiefdom nor allies, when he is defeated by the Mongols, who invade the island of Tsushima and are the enemy to beat in this game. They are also the mirror in which the protagonist will look at himself, because killing like crazy is not the way of the samurai, but of the ronin, something that is often reflected on throughout the plot.
You are going to spend a good part of the game fighting against them, nobody can take that away from you, but there are several ways to face the facts, from honor or from revenge. But when it comes to mechanics, this game bets on a system of ‘the best defense is the best attack’, which in other words means that if you press L1 at the right time to defend yourself from an enemy sword, you can get behind the enemy’s back with a quick moment to attack him from his flank.
Saving a lot, but a lot of distances, the combat system of Ghost of Tsushima wants to resemble that of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, something that is quickly understood when you see that there are attacks that cannot be stopped with the L1 and that are represented by a red glow on the enemy’s weapon, just like in the From Software game.
But where Sekiro is pure nerve, speed and precision, Ghost of Tsushima prefers to bet on stances, skills and level ups that unlock better ways to defend yourself, which in the long run makes the whole game heavier, that you feel a fighter for a good part of development and, unfortunately, reminiscent of the typical ‘shopping list’ game that abounds today. It is a pity that the moments of tension that can be experienced when a battle involves several skilled opponents are not abundant or the main objective of the game.
If you thought that being a samurai game with beautiful spaces and a magnificent design was not going to fall into the clichés implanted by Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry, you were very wrong. There are filler side missions, the story is an excuse to set yourself a multitude of objectives to fulfill and, yes, there is tall grass to go in stealth mode and take down enemies without being discovered. Since when does a samurai attack from behind instead of going to the face?
If I have to stay with something very positive about Ghost of Tsushima, it is the graphic section and the moments of contemplation of the landscape that I have lived. The three regions that are being unlocked on the island are very varied and moving through them, on horseback, on foot or climbing, at times when there is some verticality in the scenarios, is a pleasure in itself.
It’s true that all movement around the map is contingent on you doing something: going to a shrine to pay your respects to a fallen samurai, getting a side quest, upgrading your equipment or, alas, accumulating collectibles … But when you feel that the game becomes a ball or that something does not work in your relationship with him, just take a tour of his world. In part, its navigation system, in which the wind serves to tell you where to go,
Hopefully, you will organically find something you didn’t expect, and it will make its discovery, however trivial it may be for the course of the game, more special. And if not, at least you will see that video games have an impressive ability to transmit with only images, without the need to engage in swordplay with invading Mongols.