Sucker Punch’s 2020 smash hit “Ghost of Tsushima” received a major story expansion as well as a host of other quality-of-life updates with “Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut.” Jin Sakai’s story continues as he travels to nearby Iki island to investigate a different kind of Mongol threat called the Eagle Tribe. But the threat to our poor Jin’s life isn’t just confined to the invaders: Iki island in general hates samurai, especially those who happens belong to clan Sakai.
Because this poor writer is still gaming on the PS4, there’s not much I can talk about regarding a lot of the updates and improvements like haptic triggers and proper lip-sync animations for Japanese voice-overs because they’re exclusive to the PS5. Those of us still stuck with the old hardware, the Director’s Cut offers a story expansion, some new skills and some quality of life updates. But it’s main “gift” is it significantly develops Jin Sakai’s character, recontextualizes some story elements from the main campaign, and explores the concept of trauma and how it affects both the characters and the setting.
Iki island is accessible from Act 2 onwards and introduces some new enemy types, the Shaman which buffs your enemies and makes them more aggressive, and a new type of Brute that uses a double-edged sword and can decimate your life-bar if you are not careful. I recommend playing Iki island post-campaign because you will need all your techniques and buffs against these enemies. However, the game adjusts its dialogue depending on where you are in the story campaign, and the end-game narrative won’t necessarily change because of it. It just delves deeper into Jin’s trauma related to his father.
Indeed, trauma feels like the major theme for this expansion as it deals not only with Jin’s trauma, but the trauma his father’s actions have caused the people of Iki island. In his father’s “pacification” campaign on Iki island he not only struck terror into the hearts of its inhabitants, he was was literally the kind of invader that Jin is trying to defeat. The Butcher of Iki destroyed many lives, using terror as a potent weapon, just as his son would eventually do. Jin Sakai used terror to repel and defeat the Mongol invaders and tried to inspire the various factions in Tsushima against this common foe. In a twist, his father was eventually killed by Raiders who united against Kazumasa Sakai, to protect their land and people.
But it isn’t all about trauma: it also shows Jin making a conscious choice not to be held back by his father’s bloody legacy. As you will see if you play the expansion, Jin not only faces his feelings of anger and shame at leaving his father to die, he also makes a conscious choice about it based on who he has become. I tell you, Sucker Punch has become very good story-tellers.
It is interesting how this will play into future installments. With Jin becoming at peace with the memory of his father’s death, will it push him to become a better protector for Tsushima? Or will it transform him into something more? Will the Ghost stay in Tsushima? Or will he move elsewhere, spreading his legend?
As mentioned, if you are playing on the PS4, the real incentive to playing the Director’s Cut is the story expansion, as the significant graphical and performance enhancements are mostly for the PS5 only. I do feel, however that the story expansion is worth the price of the upgrade because it adds so much character development, along with several cool additions like the horse armor, or the new ability allowing your horse to charge at groups of enemies. Iki Island is smaller than Tsushima, so expect that it will not have the same amount of content. The quality, however, is as high as in the main game. Even the lone armor from Iki Island, the Sarugami armor, offers a significant buff to perfect parries at the cost of regular parries. I also extremely enjoyed this particular side-quest as well as the little twist at the end.
I really recommend Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut especially if you do not yet own this amazing game. It continues Jin Sakai’s character development, adds to the game’s lore, and ultimately makes us want for more. This isn’t a sequel, but rather, a crucial side story that makes Jin a well-rounded character.
I really hope Sucker Punch makes more story expansions because this world that they have created is so beautiful it makes you want for more. They’re on a roll with Ghost of Tsushima, and I hope they take advantage of that once the actual Part 2 comes.