Video games have always loved finding ideas throughout human history. It started with the Oregon Trail in the Stone Age of the game and hasn’t changed to this day. And why not? If these excursions into the past almost always release the maximum of real events for the benefit of the plot and the mechanics of the game, they nevertheless arouse interest in the story in a fun way. We gamers really like to keep real events and game fiction side by side and examine the path from A to B for dramaturgical expansions.

Granted, you rarely have to look long until you discover implausibility and discrepancies, things that open up when games embrace historical events so that they can be wrapped in hugely engaging material on a systems framework. . But these blurs aren’t actually that big, because at this point the video game had long since sparked the historic debate. Learned again whether you like it or not.

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With Ghost of Tsushima, a new reinterpretation of real and well-known events has appeared recently. This time around, a large, technically impressive open world game on PlayStation 4 stages the events of the first Mongol invasion of Japan through an atmospheric samurai movie lens. And here, too, delving into the differences between reality and the thinking of the game is almost as much fun as playing.

If one looks at the history of this island, which seems almost magical due to its contrasting and strong colors and its constant, colorful foliage that swirls in the air, one quickly understands why these 700 square kilometers of land were and are not are not exactly insignificant value. Tsushima is located midway between Korea and Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu and is therefore of great strategic value.

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This was especially true in the 13th century, when the Mongols under Kublai Khan wanted to invade Japan on a good 1,000 warships tinkered with just as quickly and to the wind by their recently subjugated vassals of the Korean empire Goryeo. If you want to dispatch up to 30,000 troops and equipment, the stops on the islands of Tsushima and Iki are of course immeasurable. In game as in real life, the Mongolian-Korean force landed on Komoda Beach and invaded the defenders. Not surprisingly, as has been said, the governor of Tsushima, Sō Sukekuni, faced the assailants with just 80 mounted samurai.

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Just nine days later, the invading force departed for the next destination, the smaller island of Iki, which was also captured without braking, before heading for Hakata Bay in Kyushu. It took only 15 days between the start of the fighting in Tsushima and the landing on the main island in southern Japan. The Mongols were also initially superior to Kyushu, which was mainly due to the highly asymmetric type of warfare. Samurai were used to honorable one-on-one combat; the custom of announcing the start of a battle by shooting a flaming arrow only amused the Mongols, who neither waited nor watched. The Japanese coordinated their advancement and advancement, coordinated by drum sounds and other signals, as well as the use of explosive devices, poison arrows, and closed shield and lance formations. Two cultures of war met here, which were certainly not meant for each other. At least the Japanese would say.

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The rest is a story of legends: after the samurai hakata gave up after a good 20 days and had to retreat inland to the fortress of Mizuki, the Mongols decided nonetheless – probably due to supply shortages imminent, the advance of Japanese reinforcements and the serious injury of an important leader. , but don’t forget to add some important information – back to Korea. Shortly after the disbandment of the armed forces, a severe typhoon appeared, which reportedly sent around 200 ships to the bottom of the sea, men and mice. The typhoon season was long over, which naturally fueled the superstition of heavenly intervention, which punished invaders with “divine winds.” In Japanese: “Kamikaze”. In 1781 an even more violent invasion of the Mongols would follow, this time in two directions, and it will probably go beyond the scope here, but it also ended in a storm at sea which brought Kleinholz out of the Mongolian fleet.

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Both invasions left their mark culturally and militarily in Japan: for example, Mongolian boiled leather armor led to rethinking the design of the sword. The traditional tachi had been found to be less effective at fighting invaders due to its longer, more curved shape. Many weapons broke or became blunt, a realization that was believed to prompt Japanese blacksmiths to develop the still iconic katana. More importantly, the repeated decimation of their enemies by force majeure would eternally – to be more precise until World War II – shape the Japanese self-perception of a certain invincibility.

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The first thing you notice when comparing the reality and the game: Of course, Tsushima was not the linchpin of the real invasion, but just a milestone that was left behind after a few days. For Jin Sakai, the fictional protagonist of the game, it is of course different. Players fight many, many virtual days on Tsushima against the Mongols, which makes it a lot more comfortable here than you might expect with a short layover. . For a video game, however, focusing on one location is more than understandable, especially since it is also and above all about the character journey of a broken man.

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Which brings us to the next point. Ghost of Tsushima also takes one more step towards reality through the exchange of actors: instead of the real Kublai Khan, Khotun Khan, a fictitious relative, leads the regiment that our hero Jin Sakai takes in his “spirit to become.” “. Basically, this is only the logical consequence of the apparent intensification of the conflict on the island of Tsushima: how close is reality? If fewer variables were exchanged and modified, we would run the risk of falsifying the history. Since it would be better to use the historical starting point as a medium to tell your own plot, clearly demarcated from real events, which arouses the player’s curiosity about the real events.

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On the other hand, what is best captured is the contrast in the war culture of attackers and defenders: The honor of the samurai is highlighted by the perspective of Jin Sakai: it is a culture that attaches great importance importance to the code and customs in time of war. the Mongols, in certain very well represented scenes, were having fun as bloodthirsty as incomprehensible silliness in the face of an imminent extinction. This invading force is here to win, not to determine who is the best and most honorable warrior. All means are good for them to demoralize their opponents, to make them appear weak and foolish.

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The honorable challenges of the duel are answered by laughing with executions and the use of previously unknown tactics and technology – explosives, for example – also leaves an impressive maximum impact on the samurai, who obviously do not know how to help. . For Sucker Punch, of course, it’s the perfect way to praise the elegance of combat out of the shadows in this playful love letter to samurai culture: Jin has to face his customs, learn the lack of scruples of the enemy and fighting the war he is waging he can also win. This opens the door to interesting questions about identity loss and how dare you use your enemy’s means.

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For artistic freedom from real events, one thing is clear: Games like Ghost of Tsushima awaken the desire for history and open the door for countless people to an exciting past that they have long forgotten or that they have long forgotten about. didn’t even know he was there. she gave. Playing with the knowledge of real processes is in itself a dialogue with the past and a beautiful invitation to broaden one’s horizons.

Ghost of Tsushima is available everywhere in stores and digitally on PlayStation Store. You can find out more about the game on the official website.

Do you also want to take the path of the samurai? Next, collect Ghost of Tsushima from the PSN store. There’s also a Deluxe Digital Edition that gives you a special set of armor and a few other goodies for an even better gaming experience.

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The summer sales are currently taking place on the PlayStation Store, where you can get a variety of games at attractive prices.

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