Games seem to be increasingly about esports and massively multiplayer games, the likes of which pride themselves on their speedy gameplay and ability to give players dozens of hours for their money, rather than a few single-player hours. These games are fantastic, because they give players the sense that they've gotten their money's worth and they can enjoy hours gameplay they know they like, but have it feel fresh depending on their opponents. Single-player games can't really compete with this, as a great many are one and done types. I can't see myself going back to play The Last Guardian any time soon, but that doesn't make it any less valid. Video games that showcase the visual spectacle of the medium will always have their place in the industry.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the fast-paced and frenetic gameplay in a first-person shooter, but it's also wonderful when you can sit back and enjoy the pure marvel and cinematic grandeur of an adventure game. There's one title in particular that really captures this aesthetic and delivers it ten-fold to waiting audiences: Ghost of Tsushima. Sucker Punch Productions is the studio behind this potential masterpiece, the people who brought the world the inFamous franchise. This newest title is vastly different, taking place on the Japanese island of Tsushima as it is attempting to defend against Mongol invaders.
If you think back to classic samurai films, like those directed by Akira Kurosawa of Seven Samurai, Kagemusha, andYojimbo fame, you'll have a good idea of the glory Ghost of Tsushima seems ready to capture. Typical samurai films, especially those by Kurosawa, were known for their sweeping shots of the landscape. Sometimes, the view would include a battlefield, either active or filled with bodies. At other moments, the films would depict the pure beauty of Japan, with its fields of crops, trees, and homes in the distance. If you watch the Ghost of Tsushima gameplay video, you'll very clearly see Sucker Punch capture this style.
It is quite the divergence from the hard and fast FPS trailers. Ghost of Tsushima showcases the natural majesty of the land, from wind in the grasses to the fog that rolls over the hills. This grandeur is something that feels lost in the “popcorn” FPS games. Driving your horse to your destination, among the wildlife that flees before you, feels much more realistic than most other games. We're so used to fast-travel that sometimes we forget to take in the beauty that surrounds us via travel that on foot, by horse, or in other vehicle.
This isn't to say that titles like Ghost of Tsushima won't include all the action we can handle. There's nothing more epic than a battle between two samurai or a samurai and classic foot soldiers. Sword fights feel much more personal than shooting an enemy from afar, though that can be equally enjoyable at times. Every choice you make in every second of the battle can decide your fate. This proves that beauty and action do not need to be mutually exclusive. You can enjoy both at the same time.
Even within the most action-packed moments in Ghost of Tsushima, you can still see the detail in the samurai's swords, their handles. Leaves fall from the trees and smoke rises from nearby roiling fires. These gorgeously cinematic details are part of what makes video games arguably one of the best entertainment medias out there.
But that's enough of me prattling on! What do you think of visual grandeur in video games? Do you appreciate it, or are you more about the action? Would love to hear your thoughts below.