Ghost of Tsushima - Kurosawa Mode

I finally got around to trying the Kurosawa Mode filter option in Ghost of Tsushima, and I gotta say, the consensus is right on the money: it is quite gorgeous. You can tell a lot of work and attention went in to crafting this pitch-perfect verisimilitude.

When I first switched it on, I happened to be inside a semi-damaged building. Initially, I was quite nonplussed. I guess I was expecting an immediate wow factor (I’m impatient; I’m working on it). The interior of the building looked muddied and flat.

But five seconds later, once I stepped out of that sliding paper door and into the “natural” light of the open world, I was floored. I felt like I had stepped into the legendary Kurosawa film Seven Samurai.

The way the image was framed by the awning of the building and porch stairs… if you would’ve shown me a screenshot and told me it was a frame from Seven Samurai, I would’ve probably believed you.

This thing has Criterion Collection written all over it.

For a direct comparison between the normal mode and Kurosawa Mode, one need only look to Jin’s Butt:

Ghost of Tsushima - Kurosawa Mode

Unfortunately, Kurosawa Mode is a double-edged sword. As gorgeous, evocative, and expertly realized as it is, Ghost of Tsushima‘s brightly-colored aesthetic is also gorgeous, evocative, and expertly realized.

Ghost of Tsushima is a visual feast — I’m sure anyone who’s played it will agree. The way the colors contrast and pop to inform and guide the player is incredible. And, as lovely as Kurosawa Mode can be, it is at the expense of this gorgeous color scheme.

Ghost of Tsushima - Kurosawa Mode

It can also add a layer of difficulty to the combat sequences. When enemies execute an attack that can’t be blocked or parried, they telegraph this move with a glowing orb-like glimmer effect. Once you have unlocked the appropriate skill to parry these attacks, that red orb becomes white.

In the heat of battle, when there’s a slew of enemies surrounding Jin, it can get a little tricky to juggle all the incoming attacks. And without this visual shorthand — the ability to immediately spot the tell for the incoming attack — it can be more difficult to block or parry.

This might not be an issue for some players, but for me and my mediocre samurai skills, it is enough of a hurdle that I hesitate to use Kurosawa Mode as often as I’d like. Instead, it’s a feature I mostly take advantage of while freely roaming and checking non-combat-related items off my to-do list.

I could see utilizing it exclusively during a subsequent playthrough, though. Add the Japanese voice dialogue option and you’ve got yourself the next best thing to actually playing a Kurosawa movie.

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