July 6th, 2022
Platform Played On: Playstation 4 & 5
Disclaimer: Some photographs may hint at game progression, but should be vague enough. If not please comment and I will remove them to avoid spoiling the game for anyone else.
After one hundred and eleven hours I’m saying good bye to this beautiful world. It took me two years of attempting to play before I allowed my mind to be taken in by what was created. I remember when I first heard about the game and how intrigued I was but also dismissive. I am not one who is interested in samurai genre related entertainment so I wasn’t fully certain I would enjoy this game. I am mostly indifferent about graphics as I was born in the 80s and I appreciate most levels except for the polygon phase. It’s hard to go back to that one even though I’m trying to play Indigo Prophecy. I appreciate most artwork done in video games to an extent but my jaw was bruised by how much it dropped with this one.
My significant other purchased it for me as he saw that I showed interest in it but I wasn’t ready for this type of game at that time. Other games were on my priority list and also with this game I can’t multitask like I can do with others such as online shooter games. I usually like to have shows on in the background while I play repetitive or grind-able games with no story. However, this game I could not. Even though you can use your time to explore the open world for hours without story while uncovering secrets and items, I always found myself relaxing to the music, digitally capturing the scenery and the occasional haiku writing.
I can’t explain to you how the first part of the game was as I played those parts in 2020 and 2021 and many games were played in-between now and then. Thankfully my save file transferred over from the Playstation 4 to the Playstation 5, because I probably wouldn’t have wanted to replay about twenty hours of gameplay. All I can remember is wanting to play the majority of the game when I would be able to give it my complete focus. I did just that this past month. I didn’t know if I would ever finish it, because I would stop every few minutes to indulge my inner photographer side and capture the beauty that is this game. I didn’t even feel the need to utilize the filters, mostly only the angles and some sacrifices to my character for specific shots.
A lot of people have complained about this game being an open world. Saying that it took away from the story. I would disagree. I wouldn’t have enjoyed this game if it was linear. Although the Stand-Offs were repetitive and plentiful they were just a slight nuisance. My main complaint was the need to shut every Shoji (a Japanese sliding divider door using translucent sheets of paper). Even during a mission where I was asked to follow someone, they would slam it shut when I was right behind them. Timing also would be interrupted by my character’s need to shut the doors. I didn’t want to do it, but eventually I started tearing through them with my katana. I did feel bad about this. That just goes to show you that I respected this game enough to feel bad about digital doors. I would find myself bowing to foes that I have defeated; playing music after certain deaths (not realizing it had Wind Waker capabilities and always was wondering why there was fog or storms); and trying my best not to break every shoji in the game. I believe having this world open made me feel like a part of it even more. Spotting the Golden Birds flying over head leading me to my next secret; accidentally falling upon a duel; or finding a sign that would surprise me with a plague of frogs never got old to me. In a way I felt like I was playing a more realistic version of a Zelda game. It brought me the same sense of awe and excitement as I had when I first played Ocarina of Time. Riding a horse in a big open field, playing the ocarina, and discovering useful treasures to help me in my adventure.
As mentioned previously, I never had interest in stories like this, but by the end my eyes swelled up with tears. The side tales had me feeling many emotions be it sadness, anger, and also warmth in my heart. I enjoyed the monk’s tale as I am currently reading a book about Buddhism that seemed to overlap with some of what the story spoke about. This tale along with the haikus were thought provoking. Reflection was a big part of the game as is it is in life so I greatly appreciated that aspect of it. I found the Mythic Tales to be enjoyable and rewarding. My favorite was the Undying Flame but don’t worry, I won’t spoil it. When the credits rolled I felt a sadness as my time with the game was almost over. I felt a bit of relief once the credits ended as I was able to say a proper farewell by finishing some of the trophies up that I knew would take me a short amount of time and taking in one last view of the world I spent many hours in.
Although I may re-visit this game if a friend wants to play the Legendary (online) mode, I have to move on to the next one now. I’ve decided years ago that once I have completed a game or got the platinum trophy (complete all console achievements for the game), I would not linger any longer. I have purchased many games over the years and I would like to complete them too so I needed to set up some rules for myself.
I want to keep this review shorter than normal because I feel that the in-game photographs will tell a better story than I ever could. Would I recommend this game? Definitely, but try to go into it knowing that it isn’t a fighting game, but one that is much more. Keep your mind open, allow yourself to take in the calm, and extinguish the chaos in a hot spring or a bamboo strike mini-game. Of course you can go in with just wanting to fight, but the game is poetry and with that:
Reflect and immerse yourself.
It’s more than a game.A Haiku by: SandraScenarioS