The wildly successful PS4 era comes to a bittersweet end this Friday with the release of Sucker Punch Productions’ Ghost of Tsushima.
As the last first-party exclusive to grace the console, it carries the weight of expectation as a sign-off, a fitting farewell, to a generation that spawned among the best games to grace the medium.
The reviews are in, compiled they gift Ghost of Tsushima an 83 Critic Review score on Metacritic.
Praised for its stunning, immersive open-world, and as one of the most complete takes on the open-world action-adventure, Ghost of Tsushima is a worthy PS4 swansong that delivers on the Samurai fantasy to great effect for many.
For others, it’s a classic case of style over substance. Sucker Punch appears to have invested so much in conjuring up a facsimile of the Kurosawa aesthetic that it forgot to fill the world with worthwhile things for the player to do. It’s bloated by repetitive filler of the variety popularized by similar open-world content gluts like the Assassin’s Creed series.
Here’s a spoiler-free round-up of Ghost of Tsushima reviews from a selection of gaming outlets.
The game hits a lot of fantastic cinematic highs, and those ultimately lift it above the trappings of its familiar open-world quest design and all the innate weaknesses that come with it–but those imperfections and dull edges are definitely still there. Ghost of Tsushima is at its best when you’re riding your horse and taking in the beautiful world on your own terms, armed with a sword and a screenshot button, allowing the environmental cues and your own curiosity to guide you. It’s not quite a Criterion classic, but a lot of the time it sure looks like one.
Ghost of Tsushima isn’t going to do anything that you haven’t seen before, but it uses that modern Assassin’s Creed formula to host a big and emotional samurai saga. I’ll even say that I like it better than, say, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, largely due to the stronger story and combat. It’s not bold enough to be excellent, but Ghost of Tsushima is enjoyable enough to keep fans of these kinds of map games busy and happy for a good while.
Unlike Assassin’s Creed, which always uses its historical settings as stages for its own eccentric stories, Ghost of Tsushima sticks so closely to the tropes and storylines of classic samurai fiction that it sometimes forgets to have a personality of its own. After I caught myself repeatedly checking my phone out of boredom during the story missions, I decided to abandon them entirely for a while and had a great time chasing foxes, bathing in hot springs, composing deeply average haiku and climbing mountains in search of a legendary bow instead. This is the most beautiful version of Japan ever conjured in code, and when running errands and slashing Mongol spearmen to bits gets tedious, you can always just drink in the view.
It has its moments, but like Jin Sakai in the opening hours, the past holds it back. It’s Open World: The Video Game. It’s far too easy, too – the lack of consequence for failure makes it feel like you’re just going through the motions. If you’ll excuse the wind-based pun, it’s a breeze. While playing it, I often found my mind wandering. By the third and final act, I just wanted it to be over. Like the samurai, Ghost of Tsushima feels like a relic of a bygone era.
Sucker Punch’s first stab at a stealth action-adventure hits the mark. The island of Tsushima is a beautiful backdrop for this tale of revenge and honor and the environmental art is a visual treat. Combat and stealth are largely solid, though there are issues with the camera and hitting the right targets. The biggest stumble comes with the Japanese vocal track, which isn’t synced correctly with the character’s lips, a shame for a game like this. Ghost of Tsushima isn’t the most innovative way to end a generation, but it is a fun one.
Limited by a rote and rigid world, Sucker Punch’s samurai homage pairs okay action with enjoyably committed, if awkwardly fawning melodrama.
It’s not easy to quickly sum up Ghost of Tsushima. In many ways it’s the typical sandbox game: A vast slice of digital real estate that wants to hold your attention for dozens of hours, Sucker Punch rises above the average nature of the genre by doubling down on sharpening and polishing aspects of it that would have become dull blades in the hands of any other developer. Ghost of Tsushima’s gameplay is a cut above the rest thanks to its thrilling blend of samurai and shinobi action, but it holds that edge by giving players a world that you want to explore.
Ghost of Tsushima is an enormous and densely packed samurai adventure that often left me completely awestruck with both its visual spectacle and excellent combat. By steadily introducing new abilities instead of stat upgrades, its swordplay manages to stay challenging, rewarding, and fun throughout the entire 40 to 50 hours that it took me to beat the campaign. A few aspects are surprisingly lacking in polish in comparison to other first-party Sony games, especially when it comes to enemy AI and the stealth part of its stealth/action split. Still this is an extraordinary open-world action-adventure game that solves several issues that have long gone unaddressed in the genre, while also just being an all around samurai slashin’ good time.
There’s so little to get excited about in Tsushima once the initial wonder of the wind physics and lush environments wears off that the only thing that kept me going was my own innate desire to fill out the entire map. And that can only hold someone’s interest for so long.