Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – Review

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is another game that is made by FromSoftware, you know, the makers of Dark Souls. Sekiro is a hard game, but the difficulty only makes you want to come back again and again hoping to inch just a little bit further and get a little bit stronger. Armed with fantastic exploration, punishingly memorable combat, and a mythology that only makes you ask more questions, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a must-play of 2019.

To reiterate, Sekiro is a difficult game. This is expected in a game by FromSoftware. Veteran Dark Souls players will find it difficult at first as well. This is because instead of dodging enemy attacks you HAVE to block them in order to gain insight on enemy patterns and find a time to attack. There are also move sets form enemies that cannot be blocked, luckily those are indicated by a large red symbol that appears on the screen telegraphing such attacks so you can dodge them.

Some bosses you can hide from.

Did I mention that enemies can block too? This can make even a normal enemy difficult to fight if you do not have your timings right. That’s where stealth comes in. Stealth in Sekiro is key to beating the game and getting through areas quickly. If an enemy doesn’t see you than you can perform a stealth take-down to avoid part of the battle all-together. This can also work on boss fights, unfortunately bosses have 2 health bars, while a stealth attack cannot kill them outright it can cut the battle in half. So it is always good to be aware of the environment to find the best strategy to take down the many bosses and mini-bosses in Sekiro.

Instead of advancing through picking up new weapons and armor, Sekiro has a skill-tree system. These new skills can give buffs to health potions or give you new combat techniques to take down enemies faster. This shifts the focus of the game away from standard rpg elements to a more skill-based experience. You always have the option of grinding for these skill points if you’re stuck on a boss, however you need to spend them fast, when you die you lose skill points just as fast as you’ve gained them.

Stance after a death-blow.

The environment in Sekiro is stunning. It may not have the the graphics of the latest Unreal Engine/Frostbite games, but it sets the atmosphere perfectly. When you’re playing you really do feel like you’re in a -slightly demonic- feudal Japan.

Exploration is also where Sekiro shines. Just like other FromSoftware games, Sekiro’s environment connect both horizontally and vertically opening routes of exploration from many different avenues. The grappling hook mechanic also allows for fluid transportation and different ways to approach encounters.

One of the many Japanese castles in Sekiro.

In order to get the most out of Sekiro, pay attention to every detail. The mythology incorporated in the environment and story is top notch, but a lot of it is skip-able if you go through areas too fast or button mash through the dialogue. It would be good to read everything in order to have a good idea of what is going on and why there is a supernatural overtones throughout the game.

Sekiro: Shadows Die twice is different than Dark Souls. This can be a good thing. The environments are bright, the combat is fluid, and there’s always something new to unlock or explore. If you’re looking for a FromSoftware game and have beaten all of the Dark Souls franchise, look no further than Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

The Good, the Bad, and the Hunh?

➕ In-depth combat mechanics
➕ Fantastic exploration and locations
➕ Expansive mythology
➖ Camera angles can get in the way
➖ No cosmetic changes to Sekiro
➖ No photo-mode
❓ No fall damage
❓ Skills can be hard to activate
❓ Disguises should be a thing
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