PS4; Sucker Punch/Sony
Visually rich design brings cinematic scope to this historical action game, but when sword-fighting brings diminishing rewards, console yourself with a haiku
Created by devoted admirers of Japanese samurai cinema at Sucker Punch Productions in Washington, Ghost of Tsushima turns the feudal world of Akira Kurosawa films into a huge, absurdly beautiful game, set during the Mongol invasion of the island of Tsushima in the 13th century. Samurai Jin Sakai, an unlikely survivor of the incursion’s first beachside battle, reluctantly turns to underhanded tactics in his efforts to repel the invaders and save his homeland, sneaking through long grass and hiding on rooftops to assassinate Mongols as well as confronting them sword-to-sword in clashing duels.
All the aesthetic and thematic conventions of samurai films are present and correct: a story centred on honour and self-mastery; dramatic weather that sweeps across Japan’s spellbinding landscapes; standoffs against backdrops of falling leaves and deserted towns; screen wipe and axial cuts; quick, lethal katana combat that ends with enemies staggering and spurting blood before toppling like felled trees. It can even be played with a grainy black-and-white Kurosawa filter, or entirely in Japanese (though the lip syncing is matched to the English script).