War. Honour. Tradition.
Ghost of Tsushima is a game that tackles some big themes throughout its many hours, pointing players in a direction that allows them to revel in a massive world under siege, embark on lengthy campaigns and wage war against impossible odds. It’s all typical of the genre, but where the game truly finds its groove is in the beats between those humongous setpieces.
Small moments of splendour, tiny dives of introspection that makes the journey of Jin Sakai feel that much more special to you, the player. Here’s five such activities, which gives Ghost of Tsushima its spiritual and cathartic edge.
Find those Haiku spots
I can’t think of a single sandbox that has a sandbox activity so utterly pointless yet simultaneously important to understanding the character of the game. In a world filled with unimaginable beauty, Ghost of Tsushima’s Haiku spots exist as the zenith of picteresque landscapes, gorgeous stretches of land that inspire you to create mesmerising works of poetry that sum up your inner thoughts and the tranquility around you.
Like this slice of prose that should be winning me a few Pulitzers:
Ghost of Tsushima introduced me to culture, and once again I’ve ruined something beautiful.
Pet all the foxes
They’re all good foxes, Michael. There’s no shortage of smaller shrines in Ghost of Tsushima that’ll allow you to upgrade your ability to be more charming in combat, but to find those small monuments you’ll need to follow your guide: A surprisingly friendly fox spirit, who deserves all the love afterwards for being the goodest of wild spirit doggos. Also fun fact: That’s what foxes genuinely sound like. Press R2 to go aaawwwww.
Keep your blade sharp and clean
I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you if you’re a pacifist in Ghost of Tsushima: The path of least resistance will only work on the blades of Mongol invaders as they slice and dice the peacenik out of you. For everyone else, Ghost of Tsushima’s glorious sword combat is fast, furious and has more blood than an elevator in the Overlook Hotel during peak Shining season.
Sakai steel can pretty much cut through anything in front of you, but like any true warrior knows, you need to maintain your weapon so that you can keep your fighting edge. And buddy, trust me on this: There’s nothing more badass than taking down an entire gang of enemies, standing tall amongst their corpses and flicking the blood off your sword as if it was just another Tuesday. The PlayStation 4 controller touchpad has been seldom used for games since the console launched, but hot dang does Ghost of Tsushima find a satisfying application for it.
Respect the fallen
Death is everywhere in Ghost of Tsushima. Like my last dinner party that I hosted, there’s no shortage of corpses and wherever you go there’ll be a grim reminder of the devastation caused. It may be too late to save these souls from their tragic fate, but you can still respect all the enemies you’ve slain and the good citizens of Tsushima as they rot away on the side of the road, with a simple bow.
Jin’s humble moment of respect always elicit a sombre response from the renegade hero, but it’s a mark of quality that shows just how deeply he still cares for the traditions that shaped him into the man that he eventually became. And you don’t even need to press F to pay your respects.
Taking time to smell AND feel the roses
I’d probably go hayfever mental if I visited Tsushima, but for everyone else, this is an island where’d you’d gladly shun technology and unblocked nasal cavities so that you can soak in the flora. It’s during those rare moments of peace, when Ghost of Tsushima feels like the best tourism video that Japan has to offer, as Jin Sakai stretches out his hands to grasp the elegant beauty of his home.
It’s the tiniest of details and maybe you’ll miss it, but seeing such a small yet intricate animation in action is just more proof of how Sucker Punch poured their heart and soul into creating this gorgeous PlayStation 4 epilogue.
Last Updated: July 21, 2020