If you watched Sony’s E3 press conference you probably already know that Ghosts of Tsushima is wearing its Samurai film inspirations on its sleeve. The game is bold new direction for the studio, which made its name developing the Sly Cooper and Infamous franchises. Unlike those series, Ghosts of Tsushima is incredibly grounded, but that seems to be to the game’s benefit.
During our behind-closed-doors demo of the game we got a slightly closer look at Sucker Punch’s next game. Ghosts of Tsushima most striking aspect is its gorgeous art design. At any moment, you can pause the game and get a stunning picturesque view that look as if it were ripped from one of the most visually stunning Samurai films of all time. Sucker Punch is also paying homage to this genre by creatively pacing the action. Combat is full of slow pans as opponents faces off against each other, so players can really soak in the moment, and then the studio punctuates the action with a series of quick (and often deadly) strikes.
Ghosts of Tsushima is set in the 13th century, during a time when the Mongol Empire invaded the small Japanese island of Tsushima. Sucker Punch hopes to tell a sprawling wartime epic from the point of view of a lone Japanese Samurai who has been forced to fend for himself. The game is based around real event, but player won’t be reliving every historical beat à la the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
“This is a game that is entirely grounded in reality,” says Sucker Punch director Nate Fox. “We’re trying hard to transport people to 1274 Japan. We’re inspired by history, but we’re not building it back stone by stone. We’re not trying to rebuild Tsushima island. Our protagonist is a work of fiction. We actually thought about using some historical figures, and we asked some people who are more culturally aware than us and they said that it would be insensitive, so we didn’t do it.”
During our demo, we also learned that the section of the game Sucker Punch showed off during Sony’s showcase is only a side quests. Sucker Punch aims to fill the entire game with more involved story quests of a similar caliber, which will help make the world feel alive and real.
“We believe heavily in this being an anthology of stories, where you’ll see something on the horizon, like a town burning, and you’ll meet a character and there will be twists and turns, but it all feels natural and organic. This is absolutely typical of the kind of experience you’ll find in the game, and I want it to be something that feels bespoke and unexpected. My personal goal is that people get lost exploring feudal Japan. Is that what you’re asking?”
That last part is a response to a question I didn’t include in this article. I don’t know why I transcribed it, so feel free to ignore that here. Ghosts of Tsushima is set to release on the PS4. A release date has yet to be announced.