Sucker Punch’s co-founder Chris Zimmerman has been out talking about the historical deviations in Ghosts of Tsushima and how the developer is trying to stay true to the history, while making intentional changes for the game’s benefit.
History and games are always a tricky combination. Even in other media like film and television, entertainment and history have a pretty tenuous relationship. Changes are almost always made, and in video games, with their interactivity, those deviations are often more pronounced. From guns not jamming in World War 2 games or Charles Dickens not being loosely associated with a secret assassin’s brotherhood, sometimes stretching the truth is necessary for a good play experience.
That will seemingly be the case for the upcoming Ghosts of Tsushima. The game is based on 13th January samurais, but the co-founder of developer Sucker Punch, Chris Zimmerman has said that the team is consulting and trying to make inaccuracies as intentional as possible. Speaking to GameSpot, he said:
The way I think about it is: we’re going to deviate from historical truth, we just want to do it intentionally. A lot of the support we get from our friends from Sony in Japan, and our Japanese friends in Sony US, and all the cultural consultants we’ve assembled to help us do this stuff, is to make sure we don’t deviate accidentally. There are things we are going to do that are different and we want to choose those wisely.
He later went on to give an example, saying that they’ve messed around a little with the style of armour from the time to make something more appealing to the player.
Most people’s idea is really based on an idea of samurai which is really more of a 16th-, 17th-, 18th-century idea of samurai; 13th century, historically, is pretty different. In terms of how they fought, what they wore, it doesn’t match your expectations. So we’re not sticking exactly to the historical truth of Kamakura-era samurai. It’s gonna be a little different. The armor that you see him wear, it’s not 13th century armor. It’s more warring states period armor. Because, honestly, the 13th century armor is pretty jarring looking, it’s not what you’d expect. It’s really boxy. It doesn’t look aspirational. And we wanna make sure that what we give you is your fantasy of what being a wandering samurai is.
Zimmerman went on to give other examples and talk about other aspects of history the game will wrestle with in the interview. It’s worth a read.
It’s an interesting choice, and one I think makes sense. The developers on Ghosts of Tsushima will almost certainly want to flex their creative muscles and these decisions are obviously being made to make the player experience better. While I’m sure it will peeve several people, I’m glad that the team is actually putting care and thought into what they change. I can’t wait to see more.