Remember how everyone’s been asking for an Assassin’s Creed set in feudal Japan? And how Ubisoft decided to just…do other stuff? Sucker Punch must have listened when they made the shinobi/samurai game that is Ghost of Tsushima. It’s been over a week, and I’ve enjoyed it more than Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Odyssey.
Like almost every Assassin’s Creed game, Ghost of Tsushima is a beautiful game set in a historical time period in which you play a super stealthy fellow with a penchant for stabbing people in the back. I mean, you can’t one-shot bosses, the game is inspired more by films than facts, and you don’t have a hidden blade – a lot like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
However, unlike Odyssey, Ghost of Tsushima brings back a ‘press square to assassinate’ prompt, as well as having your character leap from rafters and rooftops to deliver an aerial assassination. You can even chain them together!
In short, Ghost of Tsushima is what Assassin’s Creed could be. And since it’s the fastest-selling IP of the year, we can guess Ubisoft might model a game or two on it. After all, that is their shtick, right? (consult The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and then look at every Assassin’s Creed game post-Syndicate.) So, here are nine ways that Ghost of Tsushima is more ‘Assassin’s Creed’ than…well, Assassin’s Creed.
As I said above, you can sneak up and press square to ‘assassinate’ (feels good to do that again) unaware enemies. Leaping from rooftops to sink your katana into the skulls of enemies feels satisfying, and it’s been a while since we haven’t had to worry about the level of enemies to impale them.
Now, Assassin’s Creed has the edge in climbing in that you can climb anything. But, that being said, climbing in Ghost of Tsushima feels more interactive, like you’re not just holding down a button. There’s a little more of a challenge in gauging the distance for a jump, how far you can fall without taking damage – hell, you even press circle to roll before hitting the ground – just like the old school Assassin’s Creed.
3. Stealth Mechanics
I love me a good stealth game. Like in Origins, Odyssey, and apparently in Valhalla, you are able to crouch behind objects and lurk in long grass. You can even crawl underneath houses and squeeze through cracks in rocks and use a grappling hook to clamber onto rooftops. In the intro stealth mission, you’re encouraged to prowl on rooftops to avoid the enemy.
Oh, and you also have detection meters.
4. A Fantastic Linear Story
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the pinnacle of storytelling in Assassin’s Creed. It just goes to show that you do not need multiple endings and dialogue options for a story to be engaging. In short, Jin Sakai is a samurai and protégé of his uncle, Lord Shimura, the de facto leader of the island. After a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the Mongols, Jin realizes that the honourable combat of the samurai leaves him at a disadvantage against this new enemy. He resorts to the ‘dishonourable’ ways of sneaking and stabbing and using any underhand tactics in order to win. This internal conflict informs a story that is absolutely amazing, original and yet somehow familiar.
5. Terrifying Your Enemies
A low-level enemy comes across you surrounded by a mountain of bodies (a feast for crows, if you will), and they decide that it’s time you lose a fight – maybe they’re the one to take you down. Well, that applies to every Assassin’s Creed game, but not to Ghost of Tsushima. By either sneaking around and picking off enemies like a medieval Batman or carving up enemies like a Japanese Jon Snow, your enemies will fall to the floor in fear before attempting to flee. They will even talk about you if they find dead bodies, clumping together out of fear of being alone.
6. Becoming a Kensei
In Ghost of Tsushima, you are the best swordsman on the island. It’s undisputed. That being said, combat is still challenging – one enemy is as dangerous as the other. Like in Unity, there’s a mix of fast and slow attacks, quick-firing ranged weapons (including smoke bombs), dodging and parrying – when parrying at the perfect moment, it’ll open up a slow-mo for you to deliver a deadly (and sometimes fatal) counter-attack. It’s combat that doesn’t just show that Jin is the most deadly swordsman, it makes you feel that way too.
7. Exhilarating Set Pieces
We’ve done a lot of stuff in Assassin’s Creed: ran through cities under cannon fire, escaped hurricanes – witnessed the Storming of the Bastille! Origins and Odyssey don’t have those set pieces. In Ghost of Tsushima, however, you take part in a cavalry charge against the Mongol archers, you engage in tense, emotionally-charged duels, retake castles while fighting side-by-side with samurai, and lead the defense of a city by single-handedly defeating an army, enriching your own legend.
8. Sandbox Exploration
Ever since the first game, Assassin’s Creed has been a noteworthy open-world series. Ghost of Tsushima doesn’t throw in impassable mountains or distant landscapes. Instead, there’s a nicely-sized island where you can go anywhere. From lighthouses to castles to ruined shrines atop mountains, it’s all reachable.
9. Hunting Targets
Without giving too much away, Jin is hunting down the generals and leaders of the Mongol invasion. Although these aren’t meant to be stealthy, and you never get a one-shot kill, each leader is dealt with in a one-on-one duel. Sometimes in the rain, sometimes in the flaming ruins in a dojo…all the most dramatic and classically ‘samurai’ settings.
Stay tuned for the next article detailing the historical accuracy of Ghost of Tsushima out this week. And buy Ghost of Tsushima if you haven’t already!