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Ghost of Tsushima: The Guiding Wind of Tradition

Stillness in one's mind

A lone pebble alters fate

Rising from the depths

From the first moment that you step onto the battlefield against the Mongol general Khotun Khan, to the last, as you choose your destiny in a battle against your uncle, Lord Shimura, Ghost of Tsushima breaks new ground in its ability - as a video game - to let gamers experience more than just a good story, but an actual living tradition in peril, to spiritually experience and taste the way it meanders around the complexity of life and war.

Despite the fact that the protagonist, Jin Sakai, antagonist Khotun Khan, and other supporting characters are fictional, Ghost of Tsushima pays such close attention to detail and homage to authenticity that one cannot but feel emotionally invested in more than just the world of this tale, but more importantly the Samurai tradition and Japanese history generally. One feels as though this is Tolkien's Middle Earth coming to life through a Japanese lens, where every flower and blade of grass speaks of ancestors who continue to inspire warriors, farmers and all that is in between.

We can speak volumes about the impeccable fighting system which Ghost of Tsushima espouses that, despite the gruesome ways in which it allows gamers to eliminate foes, beautifully conveys the regal journey of the samurai warrior as they learn their various battle stances (stone, water, wind, moon), each of which fits a particular type of enemy (swordsmen, shieldmen, spearmen, brutes).

Like other aspects of Ghost of Tsushima, here also one finds that words and descriptors go a long way in setting this experience apart from other video games. Instead of opting for terms like 'strength' or 'power' to describe a character’s advancement, the designers have resorted to 'resolve' and 'technique' as the resources that allow Jin Sakai to develop new moves and increase his life and energy.

However, the use of such terms is merely the proverbial tip of the iceberg in the brilliant spiritual traces of tradition with which Ghost of Tsushima presents the gamer throughout the course of this story. From composing haikus atop summits, to honoring shrines hidden in perilous cliffs or reflecting introspectively while bathing in a hot spring, this story accomplishes what no video game has done before: to incorporate spiritual rituals not as a passive observation or mere accumulation of knowledge, but an active pursuit of enlightenment and progression, alongside sword fighting, archery, and all the other dimensions that shape a fine warrior.