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Can Ghost of Tsushima work as a movie?

(Image via PlayStation)
(Image via PlayStation)
Rahul Bhushan
Modified 28 Mar 2021

One of the biggest news stories that captivated video game audiences and fans of blockbuster films alike was the recent announcement that Ghost of Tsushima will be adapted to film.

The news of Ghost of Tsushima being turned into a movie was itself pretty monumental, but the director attached to it has raised the excitement level quite significantly.

It was announced that none other than Chad Stahelski of John Wick fame was attached to the project as the director. This is an extremely positive sign for the film as Stahelski, who has had a prolific career in stunt work, successfully transitioned into his role as director with the John Wick series.

Being single-handedly responsible for injecting new life into the action genre certainly lends a lot of credibility to the director. It is why fans are ecstatic at the prospect of Ghost of Tsushima as a feature-length film.

Given just how underwhelming even some of the greatest video game stories have been as movies, Ghost of Tsushima won't be expected to break the curse, but it has a lot of potential to do so.

Can Ghost of Tsushima work as a movie?

Coming in at the tail-end of the PS4's life-cycle, Ghost of Tsushima was one of Sucker Punch Studio's biggest successes to date. The game would go on to win all sorts of acclaim for its fantastic gameplay, art style, and a mind-boggling level of visual brilliance.

Ghost of Tsushima was one of the best PS4 exclusives of the generation and stood alongside the likes of God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Last of Us. It helped cap off an excellent console generation for Sony.

One of the big reasons why Ghost of Tsushima succeeded on so many levels is that it carefully balanced the gameplay with the narrative aspects.


Ghost of Tsushima certainly borrows a ton from the medium of film to achieve this. It took clear inspiration from the works of the legendary director Akira Kurosawa.

However, it didn't compromise on the other aspects of the game for its visceral quality. At no point did the gameplay feel like an afterthought or simply a means to an end. Sucker Punch masterfully married the gameplay with the narrative to deliver an excellent and cohesive experience.

The difference of mediums

One of the biggest problems facing film adaptations of video games is that the medium of film cannot fully capture the experience of a video game.

Video games, by their nature, invite the audience into the experience and have them become an integral part of it. Players are constantly making choices, involved in the action, and essentially become the character on screen for the brief period they play the game.

Film, on the other hand, is not as interactive, and the audience remains the spectator. This is why film adaptations of video games aren't generally successful or well-received.

Case in point - Assassin's Creed

On the face of it, Assassin's Creed was as perfect a choice for a film adaptation as there ever has been in the video games industry. For one, it is exceptionally lore-heavy and definitely has a lot of stories to work with.

Even the talent involved with the film adaptation was exceptional. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard played pivotal roles and were directed by Justin Kurzel.

Yet the movie fell flat at essentially every turn, save for a couple of very neat action sequences. The conclusion that many drew was that simply watching a character do amusing things isn't what made Assassin's Creed fun. The fact that the players themselves could place themselves doing all the cool things is what made the Assassin's Creed franchise so successful.

A lot of the game's charm and fun got lost in translation when adapting it to film, which is exactly what Ghost of Tsushima needs to avoid.


What will it take for Ghost of Tsushima to succeed as a film?

Ghost of Tsushima is one of the many excellent video games now being adapted to film or TV. The Last of Us HBO series is currently in production, along with the Uncharted and Borderlands series. The creative force involved with each one of these projects would suggest that the movie/TV series has every reason to succeed.

A director as accomplished with action as Chad Stahelski is the perfect choice. Plus, the Ghost of Tsushima game already provides great source material for the script, borrowing heavily from old Samurai classics. The film has a lot of reasons to succeed, but the challenge is still going to be monumental.

The challenge will be to translate what works about Ghost of Tsushima's story to film and not have it lose any of its qualities. While The Witcher television series is often cited as a solid video game adaptation, the series borrows more from the book than it does from the game.

There isn't a great precedent for Ghost of Tsushima to succeed as a film, but it can potentially be the first.

Published 28 Mar 2021, 19:51 IST
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