The Sengoku period in Japan; a field ravaged by war sets the stage for an epic clash of swords between samurai warriors. One warlord approaches a fearless young boy amidst the chaos, and holds a blade to his face, cutting a deep wound into the emotionless child. He clutches the blade with a firm hand, blood dripping down his face and arm, ready to embrace death. “The Wolf” is etched into his identity. A path of vengeance is set from this day on. Stern samurai generals, a cackling monk, an enormous White Serpent, an imposing guardian ape, and the hordes of warriors now stand in The Wolf’s way of saving his young Lord, Kuro, from the clutches of the Ashina leader. His journey – and I must emphasize this – is not an easy one.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice marks the next ambitious game in From Software’s catalogue of brutally challenging titles. The Japanese developer left their mark on the world with Demon’s Souls, spearheaded a cultural phenomenon with their Dark Souls trilogy, and crafted one of the best PlayStation exclusives ever made, Bloodborne. Now, they’ve done it again, and this time they’ve upped the difficulty to an extraordinary new height.
Unlike Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Sekiro builds its identity on the foundations of Tenchu, another From Software-owned IP featuring a heavy emphasis on stealth, and the way of the shinobi. However, they’ve also found a way to make Sekiro feel remarkably Souls-like, without committing to its familiar mechanics entirely. Instead, players are forced to adapt to the game’s relentless flow, built on three principles: parrying, posture, and positioning. Large sections of Sekiro’s brilliantly interconnected world are designed to accommodate stealth, as engaging in direct combat can often lead to tough encounters.
Should you find yourself forced to battle any of the game's numerous standard enemies or mini-bosses, parrying is a necessity as it quickly depletes the newly implemented posture bar: a mechanic that replaces prior games’ stamina bar. The more aggressive you are in combat, as well as how perfectly you time your deflections through parrying, the better your chances are of filling up an enemy’s posture, which opens them up to a fatal deathblow. To balance this mechanic, From Software also wisely chose to give players their own posture bar, meaning you’re just as susceptible to a deathblow as your opponent. It makes each enemy encounter feel incredibly personal, as if you’re two skilled warriors on a level playing field.
...the game goes as far as punishing players for attempting to play it like a Souls game.
Sekiro arguably has some of the best (and hardest) boss fights in the developer’s history.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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22 March 2019
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