You are Jin Sakai - A Samurai warrior and Nephew to the Lord of Tsushima Island, Lord Shimura. Mongols are invading your home, and you have risen to defend it. You look out over the cliffside at the sea, and see hundreds of Mongol ships waiting to shore. Below you is the Mongol leader Khotun Khan. One of your Samurai allies rides to meet him in single combat. He promptly dies and quickly your entire Samurai force is slaughtered by the Mongols. Lord Shimura is captured. Jin Sakai dies an honorable Samurai - ill equipped to match the Mongols dishonorable military tactics. In his place, the Ghost of Tsushima rises.

Throughout your journey you not only expand your skills as a Samurai warrior, but you learn distinctly un-Samurai tactics - called “Ghost” tactics here - that involve stealth, unique weapons and assassinations. While it directly opposes the code of the Samurai, a newly reborn Jin Sakai must learn how to use these tactics to send the Mongol invaders back to the sea, despite whatever consequences may occur to Jin Sakai’s loss of honor himself.

The game plays very similarly to a modern Assassins Creed game. You have a large open world, litered with various activities and side quests that help you learn new skills, gain small improvements to your character, or explore and learn more about the breathtakingly gorgeous world.

And that world is the best feature of a game loaded with excellent features. You can spend hours riding through flowered fields and forests, climbing mountains, or even petting friendly and mystical fox friends.

However, you likely wont be simply exploring. You will be running through this land hunting down Mongolians and liberating your people. Luckily, the combat is dynamic, challenging, and interesting. There are several types of enemies, the main ones being Swordsman, Sheildsmen, Spearmen, and Brutes. For each of these enemy types you learn a new stance to combat them - and its vital you learn to use these effectively. If you attack a Swordsman in sheild stance they will block you all day and defeat you, but if you attack a swordsman with sword stance you will quickly break thier defences to move on to your next target.

Beyond stances, you will gain the ability to use bow and arrows, black powder bombs, throwing knives, etc - allowing you to mix up tactics and really decide how you want to play. Some missions will even teach you “Mystic Arts” skills and tactics that few Samurai have mastered, that all you to bypass defences and deal massive damage using the games “Resolve” system - a resource system you use to heal or perform these tactics. Even better than this are the visually beautiful standoffs and “Ghost mode” that can enable you to get some free kills if you have good reaction times or avoid getting hit during combat.

There is also an excellent stealth mechanic, that allows you to attempt to solve game problems silently, using things like wind chimes to attract enemies away to sneak through an objective, or assassinations and chain assassinations to take out the Mongol horde silently.

Outside of combat there are a few side mission types - Fox dens, Haikus, Hot Springs, and Shrines. These can be repetitive at times, but provide some of the most beautiful views in the game, improve your combat skills, and allow you to get a quiet break from the fast paced combat. In fox dens you get to follow a fox friend around and give them a nice pet when complete. Haikus simply give you a few beautiful views and let you write a Haiku. Hot Springs give an excellent view of guy butt and let you in on Jin Sakais thoughts and past. And Shrines act as interesting climbing puzzle missions.

As for the main story and main side quests, ultimitely you are playing a fairly by the numbers Japanese tragedy. Its a good story, and very enjoyable, but you will not witness many unique themes. I am not going to go deep into the story, as I dont like being spoiler boy, but the story is certainly worth playing. Like me, you may not get too invested in the side characters, but the dynamic of Jin Sakai’s changing code with his duty to his Fatherly uncle is a story you can easily get emotionally invested in, and its worth playing for.

However, that leads me to my only real complaint about the game. The lack of real choices and consequences. While this is an open world game, that at its core allows you to choose the kind of playstyle you prefer, it is a linear story. At the beginning of the game you are repeatedly slapped in the face with the simple fact that Ghost tactics are against the Samurai code, and come at the cost of your honor. Yet for many missions you do not have a choice but to use these tactics, and no matter what you do, the ending is going to be rougly the same.

When I started I assumed there are different endings based on your playstyle. I started the game trying to play as an Honorable Samurai, only to find out about 20 hours in that it really didn’t matter. It didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the game much, but it wouldnt have hurt it at all if I knew that going in.

Additionally, as a colorblind person, some of the crafting materials and collectibles are exceptionally hard to find, and the game could desperately use some accessibility options to resolve this.

Overall however, I absolutely loved it.