If you thought Dark Souls and Bloodborne were tough games to journey through the I’m afraid that Sekiro Shadows Die Twice may push you to the limit! From Softwares latest title which was released March 22nd has got to be one of the most difficult games to have been created in recent years, hardly a surprise given the companies reputation for giving its players some gruelling challenges. Sekiro was originally teased back in December 2017, many gamers world wide believed it to be a teaser for Bloodborne 2, of course this wasn’t the case. The teasing continued until a new IP was officially announced, capturing attention of every fan the developer has. It was developed by From Software and published by Activision.
Oriental Japan has made for a truly beautiful setting, the environment, landscape and architecture are a stunning sight to behold. Hold this beauty close as it may be the only thing that keeps you from launching your controller across the room in utter frustration as you struggle to make progress in your journey.
There is no doubt in my mind that Shadows Die Twice is From Softwares most challenging title to date, as a seasoned veteran of the Souls series including Bloodborne I thought I was going to be able to breeze through, sure there was bound to be a few speed bumps but I felt prepared. How naïve was I….this game is brutal! But I love it! the beauty of the Souls games was the challenge that they posed, finally overcoming a difficult boss or reaching the end of a less than pleasant area left you with a sense of accomplishment. This sense is an ever-present force in Sekiro, the effort and time you put into progressing through the world, learning how to play will give you a strong sense of achievement.
The combat in this game is incredible, so smooth and easy to follow, no complex controls to memorise just the need to learn the basics of the art of combat. Blocking, parrying and knowing when to attack are key to ensuring victory, being aware of enemy placement when dealing with multiple adversaries is also a recommended skill to develop. Speaking of skills there are three different types of skills for you to acquire, two are passive making them permanently active whereas the final type needs to be equipped in a special slot. The prosthetic arm is an amazing piece of equipment with many different forms to be found throughout the world, these will serve in giving you the much-needed edge in combat, naturally the arm can be upgraded, each individual piece can have an upgrade so choose your favourites and get them upgraded.
Eavesdropping is crucial to learning vital information about various enemies including bosses, throughout the world several enemies grouped together maybe having a conversation, paying attention to your surroundings will help to make sure you never miss a conversation. This is a nice addition, rather than simply finding items and reading information we get to actually hear it. From Software have certainly made some changes to their famous formula, including a more heavy emphasise on a solid story as opposed to some cryptic lore.
The premise for the story is simple, a shinobi known as Wolf seeking revenge upon the samurai who attacked him and kidnapped his lord. There are three unique endings to this game, think about your choices and the offerings you make wisely. The story driven gameplay has been a fresh of breath air, despite the immense difficulty there is a clear-cut goal, I know what I must do, Wolf needs to exact his revenge and no amount of adversity is going to stop us from achieving this.
The dilapidated temple serves as the HUB area for the game, here you can speak to the sculptor to upgrade and install the prosthetics for your arm, talk to Emma who can upgrade your gourd the main source of health regeneration much like the Estus flask in Dark Souls. Emma will require gourd seeds to perform the upgrades. A new addition to the HUB that we are yet to see is the ability to practice the art of combat for both offence and defence, if you are ever in need of a refresher make sure to make the most out of this feature. There aren’t any merchants to be found here but they can be found throughout the world with plenty of helpful items up for grabs, should you come across a merchant make sure to check in with them.
One of the main things that makes this game so gruelling is the skill points system, now to get a point you must fill up the experience bar, simple enough right? Wrong should Wolf meet an untimely death you will lose half of those points as well as a half of your coin permanently, there is no way of getting it back. Death can be a real hinderance on progress, however the resurrection system makes this handicap a bit fairer, upon death Wolf can be revived with half of his health. Use this as a chance to get away and regroup. Or perhaps you will receive unseen aid upon death where you lose nothing, this can be affected by dragon rot, a whole problem of its own. There are various components to this game that create the challenging experience, on occasion there may be times where you feel like giving up so don’t be afraid to take a break.
Of course no From Soft game would be complete without bosses, Sekiro has plenty of bosses and mini bosses around for Wolf to cross his blade with. I am yet to come across a poorly designed fight or uninteresting boss which bodes well considering I can name plenty of lacklustre boss fights from the Souls series. Each boss has a weakness and it is up to you through conversations and items to discover what those weaknesses are to exploit them. each fight has felt unique, none of them have been too similar giving a refreshing feeling as you progress. Crossing blades with fellow samurai is exhilarating, anytime two legendary warriors meet on the battlefield you know you are in for a treat.
If challenging games are your thing or you are a long time fan of From Software I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Sekiro, especially if the idea of being a shinobi in Oriental Japan is as appealing to you as it is to me. Congratulations to From Software for yet another incredible title, Sekiro Shadows Die Twice has left me ready and waiting for me. I simply can not wait to see what one of my favourite developers does next.