Ghost of Tsushima’s Cinematic Mode Received the Blessing of Kurosawa’s Estate

One of Ghost of Tsushima’s most stylish features first revealed during the State of Play event in May was a “Samurai Cinema” mode that filtered the gameplay into a new experience. The colors of the game’s world were replaced by black, white, and grey, and viewers could see what looked like imperfections in a grainy film appear occasionally on the screen. Sucker Punch Productions said the cinematic mode was influenced heavily by iconic filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, and after receiving the blessing of Kurosawa’s estate when contacted about the game’s feature and receiving their blessing, the team decided to rename it “Kurosawa Mode.”

Jason Connell and Nate Fox, the creative directors working on Ghost of Tsushima, spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the Kurosawa Mode, the filmmaker’s influence, and the blessing they received when deciding what to call it. Fox said Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai film was a big influence on the game and that it defined his concept of what a samurai was.

After leaning towards the idea of calling it Kurosawa Mode, the developers reached out to Kurosawa’s estate to obtain their blessing.

“We have this great game that transports people back to feudal Japan and Akira Kurosawa was one of our reference guides, especially early on about how we wanted it to feel," Connell said. "As we got closer and closer to making that a reality, we were like, 'What do we call this special mode that we created, this black-and-white throwback?' We threw out a bunch of different words and we thought, 'What would be awesome would be if we could call it Kurosawa Mode.' In order to do that, we felt that we needed to reach out to the estate and see if that's something they'd be interested in. We sent a short video showing what it generally looks like, what it feels like.”

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While a quick look at the mode shows first the black and white tones that replace Ghost of Tsushima’s normal look, Connell said it’s more than just that filter. Samurai films were analyzed to determine how dark or bright different scenes should be, and the film grain aesthetic was added to the mode to sell the idea that players were actively participating in a samurai movie. The sounds are also changed to mimic older noises that’d come from things like TVs, megaphones, and radios to bring the audio in line with the visuals.

Ghost of Tsushima is scheduled to release for the PlayStation 4 on July 17th.

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