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Stealth and precision violence combine beautifully in Ghost of Tsushima

A slick demo, but no release date.

Sucker Punch's new Samurai game, Ghost of Tsushima, was announced at last year's Paris Games Week. At this year's Sony E3 press briefing we got a proper glimpse of it in action. This is a confident and stylish open-world action game with the occasional weird glimpse of DNA from Sucker Punch's previous Sly Cooper games visible in the blend of traversal and stealth.

The demo kicks off on the ninth day of the Mongol Invasion of Japan, late in the 13th century. Our hero is a man alone amidst fields of grass. A short horse ride through the hills and we're into combat - a stand-off against three or four assailants that showcases the speedy, precise swordplay. From combat, we move to a touch of stealth, moving in on a temple where a friend of ours is being tortured.

Sneaking blends with traversal as unwitting targets are marked for silent, slow-motion takedowns before we're up, scaling rooftops and then dropping down into the interior of the temple. A touch more swordplay - including a striking bit of murder through a paper sliding door - and then we're into a spot of betrayal and a cowboy stand-off staged against the glow of a new day and the advancing Mongol armies in the distance.

It's beautiful stuff, elegant and classy, and while the combat and traversal is as slickly handled as you'd expect, the real thrill comes from the way that the natural world intrudes throughout, whether it's the hero's horse pushing through tall grass or the wind stirring up red leaves that swirl around the scene of the final confrontation.

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With no release date in sight - and no platforms mentioned - Ghost of Tsushima is probably still a while off, but it already cuts a memorable figure.

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