October 20, 2020

‘Ghost of Tsushima’: the light of bushido, the shadow of our sins | Blog 1 UP


The video game as a cultural manifestation is something that goes beyond a mere demand by those who make and enjoy interactive entertainment. The ability to explore worlds with their own language and endorse the ability to tell stories with elements that transcend the audiovisual are aspects that Ghost of Tsushima he takes himself very seriously; surely the most complete, versatile and passionate work of the American studio Sucker Punch Productions. Known for their task with the series Sly cooper and InFamous, its acquisition by Sony in 2011 did not bring more creative capacity to its headquarters in Bellevue, Washington; Neither more talent, but budget, an element irreparably necessary to make video games of the magnitude and scale of which is now the protagonist in the PlayStation ecosystem. There are reasons to celebrate, though, because the samurai path envisioned by the Nate Fox and Jason Conell team is, to say the least, a play to consider for any PS4 owner.

Beauty, lethality, honor

Action, adventure, narrative. A disputed genre where there seems to be little room for surprise. During this last five years we have seen open worlds that already serve as a mirror on which others look at each other, but within all this conglomerate of works that have approached giant and explorable environments, there are only a few that will transcend with the passage of time. Ghost of Tsushima He is not one of them, but he has managed to understand how far to go and make that world, the island of Tsushima, be one more element of the adventure, an omniscient protagonist who crosses perpendicularly in the bushidō. More is not necessarily better, and that balance is what has saved this title from making a big mistake: it is beautiful instead of colossal.

Let’s talk then about what this work means, which de facto is among the names to consider in 2020 for the many joys it brings us; but also with room for reproach in aspects of its very archaic design that collide with the brilliance of others. Jin Sakai is the protagonist of this expertise, of this trip, the only descendant of the Sakai samurai clan in a context marked by the failed attempt of the Mongols back in 1274 on the island of Tsushima, which is in the border area between Korea and Japan ; a small strait that served in the 13th century as the first entrance bridge to the country of the Rising Sun. The history books tell us that this was one of the most important moments for Japan as a country, which began with the overwhelming victory of the Mongols before the Japanese redemption. The beauty of studying this warlike conflict and the vibrancy of its transfer to the audiovisual is nothing other than the tactic established by both sides, diametrically opposed both in form and in execution. That is why the universe of cinema has offered a peripheral vision of the matter; That is why it was so necessary for the modern video game to respond to that collection of unforgettable feature films. After hours on horseback in this beautiful archipelago punctuated by lethality and codes of honor, the result is remarkable, although not without errors.

Ghost of Tsushima speaks his own language, has personality, invites us to let ourselves be carried away with each movement and feels very satisfying without giving up a certain cinematographic aspect in his animations

There is a difference, however, between Japanese cinema and this work: Sucker Punch is a western studio. The product that arrives this July 17 to stores around the world is not so much the strict Japanese vision that textbooks tell, but rather the amalgamation of knowledge, documentation, research and laborious fieldwork by the Jason Conell team. which results Ghost of Tsushima. So, movies like The seven samurai (Shichinin no samurai, 1954), Yojimbo (1961), Sanjuro (Sanjūrō, 1962) or Blood throne (Kumonosu-jō, 1957) are known as a predominant inspiration in recreating the Tsushima from the American study. The result is, without a doubt, one of the best things that could have happened to this production. In the same way, it is in his world where the greatest defects are found, with a mission statement that does not justify the full opening of the map; clearly upgradeable artificial intelligence and disappointing stealth mechanics not quite up to a blockbuster of this caliber.

The main adventure takes place in just a few days, at the height of that first Mongol victory. A massacred population capable of awakening from within the feelings most remote from its philosophy and beliefs. This is where the character of Jin Sakai comes into play, whose reflection after having lost practically everything goes through leaving aside the bushidō code, breaking the values ​​learned by his uncle since he was a child, and starting to walk on the dangerous path of the ghost. Shaking hands with fear, using it as a tool to dress the rival instead of always going head-on with honor as a flag, are aspects that collide with the idealized figure of the samurai. This conflict will lead to a constant dilemma between one methodology or another; Turning it into the backbone of the gameplay is the biggest challenge this video game faced in order to be credible, consistent, both with the story that is told to us and for what is presented to us on a mechanical level. The truth is that it is half right, because although direct action is a real delight for sword art enthusiasts, measuring the times to strike at the right time, when opting for cautious movements prudence and concealment translate into clumsiness and roughness. To make matters worse, the camera is problematic at key moments.

'Ghost of Tsushima': the light of bushido, the shadow of our sins

The katana is, in any case, the main tool, the brush that will soak the colored tapestry. Luckily, Sucker Punch has managed to establish a combat system that has little to do with video games of similar cut as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019, From Software) or Nioh (2017, Team Ninja). For his part, Ghost of Tsushima He speaks his own language, he has personality, he invites us to let ourselves be carried away with each movement and he feels very satisfying without giving up a certain cinematographic aspect in his animations.

Environmental recreation is better than its history

Jin will be able to learn different skills during the course of the adventure, postures and ways to face each specific enemy. It is, at the end of the day, almost a choreography where we rotate different fighting styles, depending on whether we have an enemy with a shield, spear, sword … When we opt for the classic samurai style we are invited to be elegant and measure the times above all, to finish the execution under the code of this martial art. The sensation of combat typical of Akira Kurosawa’s films is reproduced very faithfully. That is why it makes sense to apply a black and white filter with artifacts that we can activate at all times, because it is consistent and is applied sensationally to favor immersion in the gaming experience; it is not just a cosmetic item. Special mention for his superb Japanese dubbing, with the strength that characterizes Asian voice actors. To all this we must add the number of additional weapons that we can provide ourselves: smoke bombs, explosives, blades … Not to mention the range of options offered by blocking movements or dodging to immediately move to an offensive posture. Run with or without honor, a constant that will accompany Jin and, consequently, the player from start to finish credit titles.

The contemplative power of Ghost of Tsushima comes to respond to what was initially proposed: it is a video game that lends itself to be enjoyed beyond the action. “In the years it took to design our version of Tsushima, we faced numerous challenges, and the biggest was the magnitude,” Conell relates in an official interview. We speak of an open world, but not excessively gigantic; It is not excessive or cyclopean, but respects the player’s time so that the movements do not become heavy. The studio has preferred to equip each corner with secrets, collectibles or side quests to extend the experience. I must say that these missions are one of its weak points. The main story has great moments of lucidity, climax situations where the title shines with its own light and makes room with all right to write more than one page in the book of the best moments of the current generation of consoles; although the ups and downs are also numerous, with a very typical beginning, not very credible characters and predictability in the general narration. There are drops in rhythm, the quality of those sub-stories are not as exciting as I would have liked.

The recreation of the island itself is the greatest possible apology for all the errors attributable to this new production from PlayStation Studios

In any case, the recreation of the island itself is the greatest possible apology for all the errors attributable to this new production from PlayStation Studios. Because the four seasons go hand in hand in a living, dynamic world, in which cherry blossoms converge with the break between day and night, while what we see on the screen does not need indicators, icons or elements that ingest on screen. The interface is clean because it has to be that way. The one who relates what we see on the back of our horse is the environment: the wind, the direction of the rain, the shadow cast by the impact of the sun’s rays or the mere breeze constitute a magnificent setting and, why not say it, also precious. Anyone with a TV with HDR capabilities will appreciate the wide color gamut, the nuances in tone, the use of dynamic lighting. All this enriches the whole, seasoned by a complete photo mode that is postulated as the perfect candidate as a tool to share our snapshots on social networks.

An invitation to elegance

Sony Interactive Entertainment does not fail in the small details either this time, with an excellent location, a multitude of secrets that enrich the historical context for those who want it, a dubbing into Spanish that maintains the type and, above all, a sound direction where so much the original dubbing as well as the overall sound eliminate any hint of doubt as to whether or not this is one of the so-called AAA. It is a pity that the story is poor, that the epic is more contextual than sensitive, that it forgets to move for what it tells us. Her story is forgettable. Ghost of Tsushima it sins of making mistakes of other titles of principle of this generation that we believed to be outdated; That has prevented me from putting it on my list of excellent games. Fortunately, in addition to the variety offered by its deep combat system, its visual beauty and the search for sanctuaries, they compensate for a product that boasts of greatness at times. The PlayStation label.

Any PS4 player who wants an experience with which to spend the rest of the summer has here a more than appetizing main course on the menu, a dish that is served with the best raw materials and is cooked by one of the teams with greatest talent on the scene. It is true that his story is not the best written and his characters are not charismatic. I would have liked something more epic, to take advantage of the environment with the hook, which ends up being an anecdote, but Ghost of Tsushima It is an audiovisual show capable of not turning pale in the playable. A balance, in short, that makes me agree on the idea that we have made a remarkable tribute for lovers of Japanese culture.

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