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Ghost of Tsushima's Kurosawa Mode is far more than just a filter

Published: 12:00, 09 July 2020
Sucker Punch Productions
A samurai and bowman standing in sunset in Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima developer Sucker Punch went to great lengths to craft the ultimate lone samurai fantasy, and their search inevitably brought them to the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.

For the uninitiated - Akira Kurosawa's movies are mandatory homework for filmmakers, and his masterful handling of photography and mood has pretty much written the visual and emotional vocabulary of the lone samurai fantasy. 

Sucker Punch were well aware of that, and they ended up trying to emulate the look and feel, and after much deliberation thought about simply calling it Kurosawa Mode. They even reached out and got the official blessing of the Kurosawa estate, sending some work as a reference. 

"It's not just a black-and-white filter", art director Jason Connell told EW. "We actually did some research on the curves that may have existed on that kind of film that [Kurosawa] might've used."

Ghost of Tsushima received a grainy overlay, further bringing it closer to the textures you see in the likes of Seven Samurai or Yojimbo. Jin's map-navigation system - the wind - has been turned up a few notches, and as a final touch - they even played with the overall soundscape. 

Kurosawa's work was used most extensively in depicting the intensity of combat though, which director Nate Fox insisted on.

"I think one that is just crystal clear is the movie Sanjuro", Fox said. "It's a film that features, at the very end of it, a standoff between two samurai. The tension that those two warriors have, they wait for the other to make a first move and then one of them dies with just one stroke of his sword. We tried to translate that into the standoff in our game very directly."

Sony screenshot from ghost of tsushima showing samurai in combat Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima launches on July 14 as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. You can find the full interview here .

Ghost of Tsushima, a samurai adventure by Sucker Punch Studios

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A man with an axe running through a forest in SCUM
Ghost of Tsushima

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