Japanese developer FromSoftware is notoriously known for creating some of the most challenging video games on the market. And, to say their latest game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a challenge is an understatement. The game’s difficulty has sparked online debates amongst gamers as to whether or not it should include an easy mode or not.
Much like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, you can expect to die early and often. However, the similarities between the Souls games ends there. Let’s take a look at how Sekiro offers up a completely new and unforgettably exciting experience for FromSoftware fans.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
A vow to protect a royal heir at all costs
Sekiro takes place in the 16th century Sengoku period Japan, filled with ancient structures, steep cliffs, snowy mountains and enemies around every corner. You assume the role of Wolf, a disgraced shinobi and member of the Ashina Clan. Tasked with protecting Kuro, a royal heir with a special bloodline, you are sworn to do whatever it takes to keep him safe.
Your adventure beings as the Ashina Clan is under attack and on the verge of collapse. In a failed attempt to escape the enemy, Kuro is kidnapped. As you attempt to rescue Kuro, you are swiftly defeated and your arm is cut off. You soon awake in a strange temple and are greeted by the Sculptor—a former shinobi.
I felt that FromSoftware did a fantastic job of grabbing my attention from the very begging of the game and keeping it all the way through to the end. The game’s story tells a bloody tale of a struggle that is filled with twists and turns. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.
Prepare to die a thousand deaths
Perhaps the most defining aspect of gameplay in Sekiro that sets itself apart from the Souls games is its emphasis on stealth and fast-paced action. The best advice I can give you is to take everything you learned from Dark Souls and Bloodborne and toss it out the window. You’ll need to totally rethink combat from the ground up.
As I mentioned earlier, Sekiro offers a high level of challenge that requires patience and persistence to become successful. Death is a common occurrence and each death serves as a learning experience. However, death comes twice in Sekiro. Upon your initial death, you have the option to resurrect yourself exactly where you died.
Combat focuses on precisely-timed sword deflects, which weakens your opponent’s posture. As your enemy’s posture meter fills up, the more vulnerable they become to attacks. And, when their posture breaks a red dot appears allowing you to perform a Deathblow. Most enemies can be killed with a single Deathblow. However, mini-bosses and bosses require multiple Deathblows to finish them off.
In addition to precisely-timed sword deflects and swift attacks, your Prosthetic Arm is a valuable tool and essential for success. One of its functions is to act as a grappling hook, which really opens up gameplay. You can now, with a press of a button, latch on to roof tops, tree branches, and structures with anchors.
This allows you to escape a heated battle if needed to heal or to sneak up on opponents and deal out unsuspecting Deathblows from above. Additionally, your Prosthetic Arm can be fitted with Prosthetic Tools, which are found through the world. Weapons vary from a giant axe to throwing stars, and a flame thrower or sorts. Best of all, these tools can be switched on the fly during battle. And, they can be upgraded to enhance their abilities.
Enhance your character’s abilities with upgradeable skills
Sekiro features upgradeable skills through Skill Trees that unlock Techniques and powerful moves known as Combat Arts. There is a total of five different Skill Trees, which allow you to enhance your character’s abilities. Each of the Skill Trees focuses on specific attributes such as stealth tactics, combat and sword play, and so on.
As you defeat enemies, you earn experience and in turn gives you Skill Points. It is these Skill Points, which you use in the Skill Trees to unlock Techniques or Combat Arts. Some of the skills you unlock are passive skill, which means they are always present. However, you are limited to the amount of Techniques or Combat Arts you can have equipped at one time.
A beautiful Sengoku Japan
Sekiro is a visually stunning representation of a reimagined 16th century Sengoku period Japan. The landscape is vast and filled with mystical creatures, huge castles, snowy mountains, and impressive boss battles. The game’s orchestral soundtrack is a perfect fit for the time period with a distinctly Japanese feel to it and complements the onscreen action.
Sekiro gives you the option to play with either Japanese or English voice overs. I highly recommend choosing the Japanese voice overs as they are really well done and add a great layer of authenticity when playing the game.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a challenging, yet rewarding game
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offers an exciting and compelling experience for FromSoftware fans. The game’s narrative pulls you in from the get go and doesn’t let go until the end. The world in which you explore, Sengoku Japan, is extraordinary. The architecture of each of the buildings is appropriate for the time period and there is plenty to see and do through out your adventure.
Sekiro‘s gameplay is fast, fluid and requires precise timing. Enhancing Wolf’s abilities through the Skill Trees is rewarding and allows for some creativity in combat. If you are a fan of games such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Nioh or looking for a serious challenge—you’ll absolutely love Sekiro.
+ Rewarding experience for those who are up to the challenge
+ Stunning visual recreation of 16th century Sengoku Japan
+ Intriguing storyline with fully fleshed out characters
+ Variety of ways to enhance your characters abilities
+ Epic boss battles
– Sekiro’s unforgiving difficulty can a huge turn off
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4.3/5 (86%)
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It looks really interesting, and I enjoy entertainment from historical Japan, but I don’t really like unforgiving difficult games. I like to enjoy a game, not feel like it is punishing me. This might be one that I enjoy by watching let’s play videos.
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