Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review

From Software’s new addition to their notoriously difficult game line-up has recently been released. While it’s still all about big bosses and rigorous combat, it’s introduced many new mechanics and lore for the soulsbourne community to enjoy and explore.

 

Just like their previous titles, Sekiro revolves around its combat. From one idol to another, you are faced with aggressive enemies trying their hardest to prevent you from your progression, not to mention the countless and unique mini bosses scattered around to give you a hard time. You can choose to skip most of them, but at the risk of missing out on precious prayer beads, which significantly boost your vitality and damage and make progression much easier. The bosses in Sekiro were also a fresh reminder of why people play these games, and why they often feel like masochists for doing so. Because of the new fighting mechanics (focused primarily on deflecting, rather than rolling and attacking) Sekiro bosses feel a lot more difficult because in order to fight them you have to adapt to the new fighting mechanics and play style. This may be easier for new players, and has proved to make things much harder for long-time dark souls fans. Attempting to roll or dodge out of certain attacks won’t save you from being hit most of the time. Sekiro was the first in this series to completely drop i-frames (frames in which you are invincible) altogether, which made the game a lot harder. From Software did this to encourage players to deflect most attacks. When you see a kanji appear, you are meant to either jump or dash to avoid the attack.

The story behind Sekiro is also a very fresh and interesting one. You’re set in feudal Japan during peak war times. You’ll play as a shinobi named Wolf, sworn to protect a child known as the ‘divine heir’. After losing his arm in a fight against a general looking to seek immortality, you wake up in  a strange temple in Ashina, where no one can die for good. Your goal is to find the mortal blade and restore Ashina and humanity to what it once was. With multiple different endings and the return of NG+ (new game plus), Sekiro comes with tons of replay-ability.

Sekiro also introduces a new, much more punishing penalty for dying. Although it may seem easier and more lenient due to the feature which allows you to die twice before you die for “real” (hence the name), when Wolf dies too much, you develop a disease called ‘dragonrot’. This disease effects a random NPC every 10-15 deaths. If afflicted, the NPC cannot be interacted with and you will be unable to progress their quest lines. This however can be cured using a ‘Dragon’s Blood Droplet’. This penalty is much like the humanity system in dark souls games; if you die you lose your humanity and must restore it in order to do certain things, like summon or pvp. Although it is much more difficult to resolve as the items you need to restore an NPC are very rare.

 

All-in-all, Sekiro is a fun title with much to uncover and learn about. I would highly recommend it to anyone committed to the souls game, or just looking for a challenging game to play. Have fun and get good, gamers!

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