How a Single Choice Makes a Game

Image Source: Fanpop

“You have no honor.” “And you are a slave to it.”

I first heard of Ghost of Tsushima when it was first released. A friend of mine managed to snag a PlayStation 5 during the dark ages of quickly selling out in 2020, and he also owned a copy of Ghost of Tsushima. I was enamored by the Japanese island’s beautiful graphics, acting, and gameplay.  

Although it took me until September 2022 to start, I finished my playthrough of the game, including the Iki Island DLC, in November 2022. And even now, eight months later, the ending decision of the game haunts me to this day.

Ghost of Tsushima is a game by Sucker Punch Productions that retells the legend of the storm that prevented the Mongol’s first invasion of mainland Japan. What if that storm was a man? After watching the samurai fall, a samurai who resided on that island rose to defeat Khotun Khan, the leader of the invasion. 

When I played Ghost of Tsushima, I thought it’d be a game full of choices. Would you play as the honorable samurai Jin Sakai? Or would you become the storm that protects Tsushima Island, the Ghost? What if you didn’t complete certain side quests? Well, the game was lacking in choices. Most side quests were story-relevant; completing them was necessary. No matter how you felt about certain topics, Jin continued his path from samurai to the Ghost.

Okay, a linear story. That’s extremely common in games. Absolutely nothing wrong with it; it just wasn’t what I expected. However, without giving any spoilers, I finally reached the end of Jin’s journey. And the final and only decision given left me speechless.

I recall sitting on the couch, controller in hand, on the verge of tears. The relationships Jin had made with his companions, the horrors and violence he had gone through, and now the defining moment of his morals, his life, and what his destiny and future would become were in my hands. I sat there for ten straight minutes thinking before eventually making my selection.

Why do I praise this ending so much? Especially when it’s just a choice? Ghost of Tsushima did something I hadn’t felt before in games. I felt the weight of the entire story on that decision. I made no choices throughout the game but watched Jin go through them. I watched him make these choices. 

I sympathized, I argued, and I followed his story’s path until the end. And at that choice, it was now my turn. And the weight of the game hit.

Narrative and stories in video games were always what drove me into this form of media. Video games have a profound and memorable way of telling stories. Ghost of Tsushima is one of the top games that tells its story. Through gameplay, characters, music, scenery, and more, Ghost of Tsushima’s story is told intensely and memorably. 

It’s a game that will stay with me forever as a writer and gamer.