Saturday Morning Gaming: Ghost of Tsushima
Wandering through my post-Elden Ring funk, I found myself saying that I didn’t want to play this or that game because it was just dull. Gotham Knights? Kicked to the curb. God of War: Ragnarök? Yeah, I’m not interested in getting all of the crows or side quests.
I asked myself “SO NOW WHAT?” and just prepared myself for merely waiting for Elden Ring II with a handful of little $20 indy games to fill the void between.
But then I saw that my little local game shop had Ghost of Tsushima on sale. Like, more than 50% off. It went from $69.99 to $29.99 and, instead of seeing that as a warning signal, I saw it as an opportunity. Maybe it’d be good, I hoped.
One of the first things that the game did was give me a half-dozen cut scenes giving me the background to the story. Then it put me up against an unbeatable boss in a fight that I was destined to lose. You go up against the fictional Khotun Khan (grandson of Genghis, nephew of Kublai) and re-enact the heavily dramatized (seriously, this happened!) Mongolian invasion of Tsushima in 1274. So getting an unbeatable boss first thing already reminded me of Elden Ring but after the game started in earnest, I was given a lot of very familiar RPG stuff:
A map that is covered with the “fog of war”. A sandbox where you pick which of the mandatory missions you’re going to do next. Side quests, side quests, and more side quests. Armor that supports your playstyle. Do you prefer the bow? Use Tadayori’s Armor! Are you an expert at parrying? Use Sarugami Armor! Do you want haptic feedback whenever you get close to a collectable? Use the Traveller’s Attire! Heck, mix and match! Use your favorite hat (or helmet) with your favorite armor!
And I ran around going into the fog of war and finding a bunch of Mongolian-occupied sites. The missions involved infiltrating the site, killing everybody, freeing prisoners, and maybe getting a new hat.
When it comes to combat, the game really shines. You can open combat by challenging an opponent and kill him instantly if you time it right. Once you get into combat proper against his compatriots, the game rewards precision rather than button-mashing and, if you manage your parries perfectly, you can finish a fight against a particular enemy in seconds (and get to one of the next 20). There are multiple stances for the swordsman… the stone stance is good against guys with swords, water is good against guys with shields, wind against guys with polearms. So in any given fight, you’ll swap between stances (and maybe switch from sword to bow and back).
The overarching story is one where the island has been lost, most of your allies are dead, and now you have to win the island back inch by inch by finding and recruiting any remaining assets that might be out there. And, along they way, they’ll teach you new skills, give you new cutscenes, and, most importantly, give you new outfits.
I’m maybe 20% into the game but I find myself absolutely delighted with it so far. It’s the perfect game to play if you are in a post-Elden Ring funk.
Amazon is selling it for $70 still but you can get it for free from the PS store as part of your Playstation Plus membership and your local gamestop will have it used for about $25. Well worth it!
So… what are you playing?
(Featured image is Ghost of Tsushima promotional art.)