Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game from the Soulbornes series, is the next iteration of try hard gaming. The game’s basic premise is that you’ll fight people, monsters, and all sorts of baddies. If you’re a fan of Dark Souls, or Bloodborne, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into. Only, it’s Japanised and has Japan’s aesthetic all over.The game lets you explore late 1500s Sengoku Japan, a brutal period of conflict and death. You will definitely come face to face with larger than life foes in a dark and twisted world. Unleash an arsenal of deadly prosthetic tools and powerful ninja abilities while you blend stealth, vertical traversal, and visceral head to head combat in a bloody confrontation. That’s samurais, ninjas, mystical beings, Shoguns, and more.
The game will make sure you look cool, but don’t expect an easy fight. No kids, this ones for the big boys. The game truly is something that makes you either hate or love the challenge, but it will definitely spur some sort of emotion in you. The game is available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. With all that said, let’s get into the review of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Gameplay and Storyline: An Injured Wolf
The game follows a pretty linear narrative, which is quite unique for a Soulsborne game. You play as Wolf, a Ninja/Samurai/Badass that basically kills things, and get’s shit done. Your death won’t come easily. You are the “one-armed Wolf”, a disgraced and disfigured warrior rescued from ‘death’. Bound by duty to protect a young lord, who is also the descendant of an ancient bloodline. Wolf will become the target of many, and an ally to few. Among them, is the ever dangerous Ashina Clan, who are after the the young lord. When he is captured, you set out on your quest to regain your lost honour, and nothing will stop you, not even death itself.
Through the first cut-scene, you’ll have to battle with General – who’s basically a really strong Samruai. But in reality, it’s a forced death. You have to die for the game to proceed, and in the process, you’ll find your arm chopped off. You awake in the temple of a carver, who tells you you were dead. He also mentions that he’s put something in place of your arm. Something, a little surprising, but what makes way for a major change in gameplay style than I thought it’d be. One thing that I appreciate from the game, is that following the story is sort of optional. So for those who just want to kill things, you don’t really have to pay attention, and you’ll still enjoy yourself.
It’s basically From Software’s answer to the age old question, “Could you make Samurai’s more badass?”. The answer is yes, affirmatively, unequivocally, yes.
Combat and RPG Mechanics / Die Twice, More Like Die 100 times;
The game is hard. Like, even for me, who’s pretty confident in my abilities in most games, had some trouble playing the game. It wasn’t that I was bad at the game, it’s just that the game was that hard. The gameplay is honestly as linear as it’s storyline. You have an attack button, dodge, block, and parry. Those are the tools you are equipped with to basically go around town killing belligerent samurai and monsters. Without going into too much detail, you’ll be able to pick up some new skills, and a handy little tool that’ll make things just a tiny bit more interesting. Actually, a whole lot more interesting. Having different tools and variations at least makes game-play a little less repetitive, and some enemies need certain tools to be defeated. One in particular that stood out for me, is the addition of a grappling hook. That literally made me into a Ninja Spiderman, flying across run down buildings and trees. Movement feels almost too good in this game. But that’s not the only thing. The Young Lord, gives you back your sword, Kusabimaru, and from there starts your massacre of anything that stands in your way.
Unlike previous Soulborne games, Sekiro has a ‘revive’ option available for players. After fighting for a certain time, the revive meter will come up by itself. If you die, you’ll have the option to die, and lose some EXP, or come back to life. It makes boss fights a little less frustrating, but you’ll soon realise maybe even that just isn’t enough. The game also features stealth as a viable option in certain scenarios. You’ll be able to make use of all your Shinobi (Ninja) skills, and eavesdrop on enemies to get information. They might give you critical information on how to proceed, so it’s always best to gather information to use against the enemy. Stealth is a new concept for the developers, and it was quite well done by the end of it. These differences makes the game distinguish itself amongst the other Soulborne games.
Beautiful Game Design And Vibrant Characters:
For a game developed by From Software, the game really does look beautiful. The design, aesthetics, and overall environments are all critical to the experience that Sekiro brings to the table. Not to mention the characters, who in their own way have unique and interesting story-lines as well as their own personalities. This definitely helps to set a precedent, and ambience in the world. These kinda ‘weird’ eccentric characters makes things unbelievable, but realistic at the same time. It brings the player into a sense of belonging in the world, and that is partially impart to the effect certain characters have on you. That’s not only emotional by the way, the game literally has a feature that makes those around you, sick. Thanks to your power to come back to life, you’ll soon realise it has consequences.
One of the more important characters is The Sculptor, a former shinobi named Sekijo who now carves Buddha statues. He is the one who ‘saves’ Wolf and replaces his missing arm with the Shinobi Prosthetic, a sophisticated artificial arm that can wield a variety of gadgets and weaponry. His story makes for an interesting development, and you start to realise the way he sees the world. The Young Lord, Kuro, even he makes you feel a sense to protect him from those who come after him. You feel like you actually want to go and save him, even though practically, you don’t know anything about him. He does give you, The Wolf, purpose.
All in all, design of stages and environments, characters, and even their story-lines are what makes the game unique to others in the Soulborne universe. And that’s another reason, this game is one of the better ones to come out, in 2019. Even me, someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy Dark Souls, and those style of games, had a blast going through and figuring out exactly how to take someone down.
At the end of the day, the way this game plays for you, really depends on the kind of player you are. The game is hard, but if you enjoy a challenge, historical Japanese sites, lore, and most importantly, Dark Souls games, then this is for you. You’ll be able to realise lost dreams of being a ninja, and probably hating the game half the time because of it’s difficulty. But if you’re willing to look past it, this game is definitely worth checking out.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
For those who enjoy Dark Souls, a challenge, and Japanese history and lore. Oh, and being a badass ninja samurai.