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Why Ghost of Tsushima is my 2020 game of the year

Yes, you read it right, Ghost of Tsushima, in my opinion, was the best game to be released in 2020. Now, this might not mean much, since I lost a steady income, and gained a wife, and therefor had little time with games this year. There is a very real chance that some of the games I didn't play last year were better, like Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing, Hades, Spiritfarer, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Half-Life: Alyx or Cyberpunk 2077. Well, not the last one, obviously. But here we are, with me playing three great games this year, and now I'm here to try and explain to you why I believe Ghost of Tsushima is better than both The Last of Us: Part II and Final Fantasy VII: Remake

You see, it sort of has to do with consistency. Because Tsushima isn't best in any of the two parts that make up great games, Narrative and Gameplay. But it is great in both regards, unlike the competition. So, to explain why Ghost of Tsushima is my game of the year, I will now rant on the other two's bad qualities.

Now I will start with The Last of Us: Part II, because I feel like the other one might take a while. Now I was not a big fan of the first game. It was a master at dialogue and characters, but the plot wasn't great, and the gameplay was boring standard sneaky/shooty/climby that better suit a game like Uncharted. So I did not think I would play Part II at all this year, but a friend bought a physical copy, and so I borrowed it from him, played through the game and... was pleasantly surprised. As with the last one, the dialogue and characters were on point, but I also really think the story is well told. You (read I) start of by feeling sorry for Ellie and hating... right, SPOILER ALERT, Abby for what she does. But as the game continues, I stopped sympathizing with Ellie. She's just a terrible person, and somewhat turns into the antagonist of this entire thing. When you finally stand, after having played through both women's story, in a battle between the two, I was happy that I got to play as Abby, kicking the shit out of Ellie. After that, even the epilogue, sort of works, leading Ellie to a place where she can finally, somewhat, let go.

So all Part II needed to do is stick the gameplay, and it should sail on as the best game of the year... Yeah...

The story of Ghost of Tsushima is arguably better than in The Last of Us: Part II, but for me, it wasn't. But it is still really good, making me feel for the characters and the... right, SPOILER ALERT, heart breaking ending where two characters who are still arguably on the good side, has to fight since they have different views on how they should accomplish that good. It hit hard, was tragic, and I could feel myself well up as the game drew close to the end. Besides that, Ghost of Tsushima has a great combat system, fun gameplay and a living, beautiful world. I love playing Ghost of Tsushima. I rarely loved playing The Last of Us: Part II. The good parts of it lies in the story and world-building, the characters and the dialogue. The gameplay is... yes, you guessed it, sneaky/shooty/climby more suited for the short action set pieces of something like Uncharted. In The Last of Us: Part II it becomes the sluggish and over long passages in between the good stuff. I didn't mind it, but it didn't engage me. So even if I loved the narrative more in The Last of Us: Part II, Ghost of Tsushima is still the better game in my opinion.

Then there is Final Fantasy VII: Remake. I love Final Fantasy VII. Of course I do, I grew up with games in the 90's. But I love Final Fantasy VII to an insane level. I still have a hard time accepting that I somewhat think Persona 4: Golden is my favourite game and not FFVII. I've played Dirge of Cerberus all the way through, that's how much I love FFVII. This might give some context of my thoughts on Remake. See, I loved most of this game. The combat is great. As in, this might be one of the best combat systems I've experienced in a good while. It pays tribute to the original, by for example making me feel like I control all three of my party members, while still being a mostly real time combat affair. There is depth to it and the materia system is really well done and rewarding. This game was a blast to play through.

Now, since I know that Final Fantasy VII has one of the most classic stories there should be no problem with this taking home game of the year, right...? Yeah...

SPOILER ALERT! Remake has a story that I hated. Because it messed with my favourite, sorry, second favourite, game of all time. I wanted to experience the story I loved, with all new graphics and live a bit in that nostalgia. I wanted to get to know Barret and Tifa and Aeris and Red XIII and Cait Sith and Yuffie and Vincent and Cid again. But I did get that. I got something else. I got someone putting on their clothes and pretending they're my friends. I could just link you to my Anime: The Bad blogpost and tell you all about the problems that Remake very much encapsulates. The protagonist who has no less than three women hanging around him, which only personality seem to be in some way related to our male main hero. The dialogue that makes me cringe more often than not. The voice actors who, to be fair, does what they can with the dialogue given. I will admit that I early started to get worried about a scene that happens a while into the game, where Barret is to emote sadly at the death of his friends and daughter. That's a powerful and important scene in the original. And to be honest, it's a powerful, well acted scene in Remake as well. It is of course destroyed by the fact that BARELY ANYONE DIES IN IT!

And here we come to the way Final Fantasy VII: Remake messed everything up. They change the story. Not only that, they change it a way that spits in my face. Thank you Square Enix for spitting in my face.

So, the entire game takes place during the first part of the original game, from the beginning until they exit Midgar. This was known, I am okay with it. It leaves them to explore things that the original did not. It felt a bit padded, but not overly so. In that regard, I feel like they succeeded. No the problem with the game comes with some of the changes made, and trying to weave in a meta narrative around the changes. Yes, as soon as something is to change from the original, ghosts appear and alters things so that everything happens the way its supposed to. Like, Jessie is not supposed to be in the second reactor mission, Tifa is. But Jessie is about to go on that mission, and Tifa does not want to. So here comes the ghosts to injure Jessie, so that Tifa has to go. Or at the aforementioned sad moment, where no one dies. Wedge survives, and so, the ghosts haunt and try to kill him. And Biggs survives as well. And everyone we have come to know from Sector 7 Slums survives! Only Jessie dies. She might as well come back as well in future instalments. In the original, Avalanche is lost here, the entire operation is done. In Remake, one person dies, and it's a bit sad, but not really. In the end, you get visions of things to come, the death of a certain character, and the team does all to stop that from happening. They defeat the ghosts and now a lot will change. A whole new story. That's not what we wanted. The ghost in this sort of metaphor representing us players who love the original. The spit trickling down my beard, thank you Square Enix. And at the end, Zack seemingly comes back to life, a character that dies long before the game has even started. You have killed me Square Enix. I loved playing this game, and even with the anime of it all, I was ready to give it a strong 9 out of 10. But no, now it's just a great and entertaining ride, only to arrive at the end and get stabbed through the heart. Ghost of Tsushima almost did something similar, as it gives you a choice at the end. But I could still choose the way that made sense for the story. The ending of Remake waters down the entire story, just because someone can't let go of his precious characters that dies in the original. If the original knew that kill your darlings was a good thing, Remake doesn't. In fact, let's bring everyone back. Who needs to establish fun new characters when you can just bring old ones back from the dead. Now I'm looking forward to the scene where Dyne becomes a playable character, and when Nanaki howls at his petrified father, who promptly comes back to life.

I'm glad I have Ghost of Tsushima, the game that didn't do everything to perfection, but that did almost nothing wrong. I leave it knowing that I've played though an experience I will treasure, enjoying every step. The Last of Us: Part II may have a better narrative, but slugging through the gameplay was not something I enjoyed. Final Fantasy VII: Remake might have been an absolute joy to play through, but the narrative make me walk up to the creators and spit in their face.

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