At the Sony E3 conference today, the gameplay demonstration of Ghost of Tsushima has been released, and the game scenes reflect Akira Kurosawa’s style in their poetic visuals. Through the inspirations from a large number of storytelling creations to incorporate the game designs, Ghost of Tsushima adapts historical event of the Mongolian Invasion of Japan in 1274 into a third person role-play sandbox game, and tells the story of a samurai named Jin Sakai and his confrontation to the Mongolia army.
Nate Fox, Creative Director of Sunker Punch, and Jason Connell, Creative Artistic Director, confirmed that the footage of Ghost of Tsushima at the press conference is entire game scenes from game engine rather than CG animation content. That means the actual gameplay will look good as the demo.
Let’s take a look at it:
As the gameplay demo shows, the male protagonist Jin Sakai will fight along with a female warrior named Masako to defend their homeland. However, the conflicting judgment between these two leads to a duel in a maple forest. Furthermore, the partial demonstration of Masako in the video is just the tip of the iceberg. Masako is one of many supporting NPC. Those subplot NPCs will promote the character development of Jin Sakai, enrich the setting, include independent brand quests, and push the story forward.
The astonishing art design accurately depicts Tsushima, Japan in the 12th century. Architecture and beautiful nature on this island contrast with the intensity of the fire and blood of the invasion. Jin Sakai’s costumes help to define his character, but also tie into the game design, such as in the rainy weather, when Jin will wear the raincoat called “Mino” to improve his swordsmanship. The video also shows a scene of a horse riding in the wilderness, where Jin summons his horse “Nobou” which gallops through the wilderness and over fields of wheat. Even though the main tone of the game seems bloody and violent, players can still take a break from intense fights and find something that suits them, such as rock climbing or exploring the game environment.
Also, the historical battle scenes naturally became a major selling point of this game. The trailer shows players can control all sorts of assassinations and samurai attacks on Jin. Although there weren’t any ninjas at that time in history, the actions in battle system, such as the sneak-in assassination, suggests Ghost of Tsushima might be an action game. Although the popularity of various First Person Shooting games is very high nowadays, most game players are still happy about cold weapon games.
The developers took inspiration from film and art. The opening scene in the trailer, Jin Sakai picked up a red leaf, which set up the sad tone of the entire story. In the battle demonstration of Jin Sakai and Masako’s sword showdown, the floating leaves are a metaphor of characters’ inner consciousness, and represent the poetic movements during the swordfight. There is also a chance of fantasy battle design like those in Onimusha series (2001 to 2002).
There are some details of this demonstration that deliver an effective immersive impression. At the beginning of the demo, the burning flames in the distance, the beauty of the monastery, and the distant mountain range all show the worldview and the situation faced by the protagonist. Although the protagonist is a samurai, he does not wear armor, opting instead to wear a trench coat. The fighting moves he uses are also different from those of ordinary samurai, and somewhat like assassins. Those details showing the difference of Jin from ordinary samurai might lead to the question to the name of the game itself. Even though Ghost of something or somewhere is a common title which ancient samurai refer to, is Jin a “Ghost” who already died during the war but still fights for Tsushima”?
After traveling across the fields, Jin teams up with Masako using a bow and arrow and goes to the temple to rescue the captured monk.
In this process, we have seen the combat in the action design, including samurai sword fights, parry, execution, behind the attack and other skills. To get into the temple, Jin also needs to use a rope to climb to the roof, jump into the temple from the roof, and even fight on it as well.
In the battle where Jin fights in the temple, other elements of the battle have been shown: during the combat, players can slow time for analyzing how to deal with the enemy one-by-one and combat them effectively.
If the main battlefield in the game is Tsushima Island in the first Yuan-Japanese War, according to history, it’s very likely that the story of the game has already been spoiled by historians. During the invasions of 1274 and 1279, the typhoons destroyed the armies of the Mongolia on the ocean. The Japanese believe those typhoons are divine wind commanded by the Japanese emperor to eradicate the Mongolian Army. Those typhoons were called Kamikazes by historians at that time, which also refers to the Japanese Air Force during World War II.
The “Ghost of Tsushima” on PlayStation 4 has no announced release date yet, so stay tuned.