For me, Ghost of Tsushima is the best game since Red Dead Redemption 2, and is even better in various ways, although could be improved in other ways. Ghost reminded me a lot of the amazing 2006 game Okami, and I think the two games are great companions to eachother.
I really love Ghost a lot, it's super fun, beautiful, captivating, interesting to play, the music is amazing, the game and story flows very well, doesn't hinder you or slow you down (in most places) when you just want to play fast, and lets you roam pretty much anywhere right off the bat, except of course the second portion of the game which is locked until you finish all of the main missions of the first portion. So if you wanted to, you could speedrun the main story missions without upgrading anything, then progress right to the more challenging parts of the map super quickly. Or you could do what I did on my first playthrough; to do absolutely everything on the south island before progressing to the north island.
I've played through this game multiple times now, and intend to keep playing and trying all the different combat and armour styles, charm combinations, and playstyle options. That being said, I wish they'd make a fan feedback system by which players can submit improvement suggestions and vote on the best ideas so the developers can get an idea what the fans think would improve the game the most.
I've been meaning to play on Kurosawa mode (black and white with tinny audio), but haven't yet as the colour, presentation and sound design of this game is just too good to turn off. I will play Kurosawa mode though at some point, just to experience it.
My initial score for this game was an 8/10, and Game of the Year. I prefer it over The Last of Us Part 2. As good as Ghost is in its strong points, I felt it was let down by some gripes and immersion-breaking stuff, including:
1) The Japanese audio lip-sync is noticeably off, as the facial/lip animation was only designed for English audio. However that is forgivable as the Japanese voice acting in this game is superb, much more emotive and expressive than the English voice acting in my opinion. Plus you won't notice the lip-sync issue that much if your eyes are fixed on the subtitles most of the time.
2) Although the combat is fun and satisfying, it can feel janky at times, meaning you'll have to be super-refined in your target acquisition to make sure you're hitting your desired target as sometimes it feels like although you intend to aim at one enemy, it hits a different enemy.
3) Various portions of the map feel empty and void of activity compared to games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, or Grand Theft Auto. I think they could have included more things to do, or expanded upon existing ideas. For example, the predator hides thing; in Red Dead 2 the hunting and crafting system is comparatively super-detailed and expansive, whereas in Ghost it is very simple. I like the idea that killing deer is frowned upon in Tsushima, but that idea could be expanded upon such as villagers denying you service, or making supplies and ammo cost a lot more, or you get a bounty placed on you, and tracked down by bounty hunters or something.
4) When you free hostages or prisoners, they just stand there and don't do anything, they don't even walk off, they literally stand still.
5) Hard mode was too easy.
6) Lethal mode (when they released it) felt even easier than Hard mode, as even though you receive more damage, you also deal more damage, making killing enemies easier, not harder.
7) Once you beat the game and have done all the things, the map feels empty. All your friends are nowhere to be found. Various castles and forts are closed and cannot be entered anymore.
However, when the game got an update of Version 1.12 / 1.13, including a much needed New Game Plus (which lets you play the game fresh with all of your acquired upgrades and weapons, as well as being able to earn Ghost Flowers with which to buy new charms and armours, and a Lethal Plus difficulty, which actually feels satisfying to play), as well as a multiplayer in the form of Legends Mode, my score went up from an 8 to a 9/10. There's still a lot of stuff they could improve upon, as highlighted in my list of gripes shown above.
My other gripes for the initial game are/were:
- No multiplayer or co-op campaign (now there's a multiplayer in the form of Legends Mode, but still no co-op campaign).
- No new game plus (now there is one, with some satisfying improvements, but still a lot of my gripes are unfixed).
- No mission replay option from the main menu.
Additional improvement suggestions:
1) Bamboo strikes could be expanded upon, making achievements or a reward/trophy for doing harder/more combinations. Currently the bamboo strikes are sets of 3, 5 and 7, based solely on square, triangle, X and circle. There could be a Bamboo Temple or something, with a bamboo strike combination of like 44 buttons, which gives you a reward of a bamboo saddle or bamboo heavy armour which allows your horse to trample enemies or something.
2) There could be a Fox Temple you can reach after bowing to all the Fox Shrines from where you can gain a fox ally that sniffs out supplies for you, or guards your body when you're killed something. Also there could be a Fox or Kitsune Armour that allows you to channel Fox Energy at your foes.
3) There should be a bunch of tougher enemies, as even on Lethal Plus, it feels easy. The Dance of Wrath and Heavenly Strike are cool ideas, but could be utilised more creatively, such as some rare enemies being able to use them.
4) I think Ghost could utilise a bunch of ideas from games like Okami (combat and puzzles), Red Dead 2 (crafting and hunting), Zelda (balanced economy), etc.
5) With the Inari charm, you can end up having at least 30,000 supplies by the end, which are unusable. Make the economy more realistic and balanced!
6) Make weekly challenges.
7) Make more Curse charms (currently there are three), and make a trophy or in-game reward for beating the game with them all equipped. The three available right now are:
- Curse of Frailty (Iron Will is disabled)
- Curse of Misfortune (No resources or ammo gained from enemies)
- Curse of Exhaustion (Resolve costs twice as much).
Now here's some ideas for Curse charms I thought of just now:
- Curse of Rust (Your weapons degrade with use and time, requiring constant repair or replacement, requiring more supplies)
- Curse of Blindness/Deafness (Focused Hearing is deactivated)
- Curse of Theft (Enemies can rob you of armour, resources, ammo and supplies when you die or get stunned/poisoned)
- Curse of Storms (All enemies' health, awareness, and aggressiveness is doubled, including duels)
- Curse of Mist (when you die, the map's fog of war resets to unexplored)
- Curse of Imprisonment (You can get captured and imprisoned)
- Curse of Invasion (Enemies can re-occupy liberated encampments and territories after you die or get captured)
- Curse of Allies (Friendly fire is turned on, meaning you can hurt/kill your allies in battle, such as with Ghost Weapons' blast radius)
- Curse of Desolation (You lose all your supplies, ammo and resources upon death)
- Curse of Starvation (You will starve to death if you don't consume food/supplies regularly)
- Curse of Kitsune/Ninetails (Hidden description in game. Concept open for development/refinement. This curse will appear in one of your random charm slots, erasing the charm it replaced from your inventory. There is a slight chance that either a fox which guides you to a shrine, or one of the humans in the game will turn out to be a Kitsune, a Ninetails. Upon petting a fox after bowing to a shrine, or interacting with or freeing a hostage, there is a slight chance it will shapeshift. You can increase the chances of this happening by wearing either of Tomoe's masks (the white one or the dark one). Which one you wear will determine what kind of Kitsune will transform. Thereafter, the curse is hardlocked into that charm slot. The only way you can unlock it is by finding that Kitsune who gave you the Curse, and doing battle with it. However, it could turn out to be a Lightning-wielding Ninetails with the ability to mimic/copy all of your current abilities and use them against you. If you don't find the Kitsune before the end of the game, all of your charm slots will be hardlocked as Curse of Ninetails, and you will have to ascend the highest peak in Tsushima to do battle with its hardest form.)
8) Make more uses for the Ghost Flowers as currently you can earn way more than you can actually spend. With 200 ghost flowers (for example), you could buy another charm slot. There could also be more charms, such as:
- Charm of Mercy (Allies can revive you when you're downed)
- Charm of Okami (You can earn the ally of Okami Amaterasu, who runs around the map with you and fights alongside you. The presence of this ally by your side will increase the chances of a Kitsune revealing themself)
That's all I can think of for now. Now going back to playing the game some more.... might come back here to edit this review sometime