Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut PS5 review - A fresh cut for Sony’s cinematic samurai epic

·8-min read
Photo credit: Playstation/Sucker Punch Productions
Photo credit: Playstation/Sucker Punch Productions

Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut is back for more on next-gen bringing 2020’s unforgettable PlayStation exclusive with some fresh content and graphical tweaks, that elevate what was already a stunning world into an unmissable experience for the Playstation 5.

This new IP wasn't just an exciting take on the open-world genre –Assassin’s Creed fans would be familiar– but a stunning love letter to Japanese cinema that took gamers on a journey through feudal Japan.

Set on Tsushima Island, which is more a fictional conglomeration of many areas of Japan rather than a one-for-one remake of the real place. Khotun Khan - a fictional descendent of the better known Ghengis - has invaded with his fleet, and aims to take the island as a stepping stone to complete domination of Japan. Bringing with him pain, suffering, and fire, lots of fire.

Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch
Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch

Stepping into the Karuta of Jin Saika the game opens with you fighting Mongol forces alongside an army of samurai, as you storm a nearby fort. After a brief but crushing defeat, complete with a tense one-on-one duel, your quest to weaken Khan’s forces begins. You must build your legend from the samurai Lord Sakai into the Ghost of Tsushima, delivering hope to your people and driving the Mongol forces from your homeland.

Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut PS5 review

On his journey to rid Tsushima of these invaders, Jin abandons his samurai code and adopts a different method of warfare in order to tip the scales back in his favour. This however brings its own challenges, as stealthily invading camps and killing enemies from behind is anything but honourable and against a Samurai’s code. Something the Jito and Shogun himself aren’t happy about.

Ultimately Ghost of Tsushima is a tale of responsibility and struggle of doing what needs to be done, no matter the consequences. Asking the question, what is honour after all if doing what’s considered honourable leaves others to suffer?

One of the Directors Cut’s biggest additions explores this concept even further, as the added Iki Island brings Jin not only face to face with a new foe, but also his own guilt surrounding the death of his father and whether his actions are doing more damage to the name Sakai.

Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch
Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch

After discovering ‘The Eagle Clan’ has attacked Tsushima, bringing with them a mysterious and deadly poison, Jin journey’s to Iki Island, a distant memory from a pivotal moment in his life when he saw his father die and chose not to step forward and save him.

After a troubled sea voyage and a menacing encounter with the dark and powerful ‘Eagle’ Jin is left unsure what’s real and what isn’t - something that permeates every experience on Iki Island and leads to some interesting moments both in and out of battle.

As things progress you’ll get a deeper look into Jin’s relationship with his father, how the islanders on Iki saw him as nothing more than ‘The Butcher’, and understand Jin’s own guilt before ultimately confronting the truth.

While it’s certainly not the longest expansion, it was great to see Jin’s backstory fleshed out a little more while exploring a fresh setting, one in which the samurai's place and actions, especially those of clan Sakai, aren’t seen in such a clearly positive light.

While in the initial story arc, this moment was only brushed upon as a simple good vs bad battle, it’s clear there’s a lot more grey to be seen, and perhaps a realisation of what side Clan Sakai was actually on.

Visually, Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut is still an absolute treat for the eye - full of colour and almost everything on screen offers a truly cinematic experience. The PS5’s technical wizardry adds some extra gloss visually and pours sounds of the wind, the clashing of steel, and more from the controller for an extra dimension of immersion.

Beyond the main story, townsfolk will have plenty to ask of you - while some are, of course, your usual ‘go here, kill them’ quests, there’s also a lot of variety on offer too. Each with its own story to unfold and build upon the world you’re in. Without giving anything away, one of our favourites ended, after some detective work, with a duel in a candle-lit cave, swiping past lanterns on the water.

Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut PS5 gameplay

Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut has one of the most minimal HUD designs we've experienced and it's all the better for it, gone is all the hand-holding and constant arrows pushing you to your next step. Instead, if you need a guiding hand, you can swipe up on the touchpad and a gentle wind will blow in the direction of your current goal.

Peeling this layer back adds that extra level of immersion, making for a joyous and relaxing time as you gallop through the villages, fields, and rivers that Tsushima has to offer.

Not since Breath of The Wild have we been this engrossed in simply traveling the world offered to us, while quite content to stumble across tales and events in an organic way.

Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch
Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch

Combat is fluid and satisfying, and despite the camera being somewhat awkward from time to time, it never felt stale. Enemies aren’t level-based, but the difficulty comes in opting for the right stance to suit your current foe. Water stance, for example, is quick enough to break the guard of someone holding a shield, while Moon gives you the chance to bash through the defences of a larger, brutish enemy. As you fight you’ll be changing on the fly, keeping an eye for the optimal moment to parry or dodge.

With the arrival of The Eagle clan comes the addition of Shaman. Giving combat another layer of complexity, these enemies will hang back and chant at the top of their lungs, boosting the Mongol army's attacks and ferocity. This subtle addition adds a new decision once your blade is drawn.

Buy Ghost of Tshushima: Directors Cut - PS4

Duels are one of the game's most exciting components, set in a range of natural arenas from waterfalls to blossom fields. But beyond their gloss, offer a deep challenge. Each combatant you face will have their own routines and fighting patterns that you’ll need to study in order to last and eventually win the fight.

As you progress through the story, while you master combat and its various techniques more, you never truly feel overpowered. Every fight could easily turn the wrong way with a simple slip-up, and it’s never wise to run into battle headfirst - which is of course where stealth comes into play.

Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch
Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch

Your tools are modest but effective, and slipping through an enemy encampment without being seen is always a satisfying experience. You can assassinate enemies by hand, leaping from rooftops or emerging from tall grass, eventually learning to take out multiple foes in a smooth motion.

Attacking enemy camps feels that much tenser when going in blind. As you progress, you’ll learn to find a good recon position and use your samurai hearing to form a plan of where best to penetrate.

As you’d expect, there are collectibles too. Searching for sword training stands made of bamboo will help expand your resolve, should you pass a few timed button combos to land each strike. Hidden hot springs give Jin time to reflect on events and expand his health bar, while finding fox dens and following the orange critters will allow Jin the chance to pay his respects at a nearby shrine, unlocking charm sockets that offer buffs and perks to your stats.

Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch
Photo credit: Sony/Sucker Punch

As if that wasn’t enough, Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut adds archery challenges which pit you against the clock in order to test your skills with a bow - and they’re no cakewalk. Hitting a group of paper lanterns in under 7 seconds pushed our thumbs to the limit.

You’ll also find new sanctuaries for both deer and cats (yes, you can FINALLY pet the cat in Ghost of Tsushima) which requires you to play your flute and honour these glorious creatures.

Using the PS5 controller, you’ll need to wave it up and down in order to maintain pitch using motion control. A simple addition but we were surprised how engrossing it became as the songs became more difficult - plus, who doesn’t want to see a chonky cat get the head pats they deserve?

Buy Ghost of Tshushima: Directors Cut - PS5

Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut verdict

If you missed out on the original PS4 release then this package is a no-brainer, offering the best experience possible with all previous additions, tweaks to gameplay, along with a brand new story arc and island to explore.

Combat is deep enough to always offer an exciting challenge, and exploring Tsushima Island is a pure joy. Combine this with an engaging story that doesn’t outstay its welcome and you’ve got a focused and deeply enjoyable open-world game to play.

If you've experienced the game already, then your mileage may vary, as there's probably around six hours of new content in the expansion. Although there’s something to be said for exploring Tsushima once again with the PS5’s technical prowess elevating the visuals, and the controller's technology adding some subtle, but nonetheless enjoyable, elements to the whole experience.

Ghost of Tsushima is still one of the PlayStations greatest exclusive titles, and a must-play.

Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut release date: August 20, 2021

Available on: PS4 & PS5

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

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