Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

released on Mar 22, 2019

Enter a dark and brutal new gameplay experience from the creators of Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an intense, third-person, action-adventure set against the bloody backdrop of 14th-century Japan. Step into the role of a disgraced warrior brought back from the brink of death whose mission is to rescue his master and exact revenge on his arch nemesis.

Take Revenge. Restore Your Honor. Kill Ingeniously.

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Im waiting for this game to grab me but it hasn't happened yet.
I dont know why I enjoy dying to the same boss for 3 hours in Soulsborne games but not in this game.

This review contains spoilers

Loved this a lot. I missed the sense of exploration from Dark Souls, but the core action mechanics and satisfying parries more than made up for it. Other than a basic whole number for your damage and health, there's no worrying about RPG values here. It's a true action game taking place within the open-world Metroid-ish Souls structure, backed up with some items and buffs and junk if you decide to use them. But the lack of gear is probably the best thing about this - no armour sets, no elemental stats, no sword that deals +5 damage but -2 stamina. Funnily enough, people say this is the hardest FromSoftware game, but after a while it felt much, much easier to me than Dark Souls because there was nothing in my way except my own skill, which I greatly prefer. No main bosses that required some stupid consumable item for me to defeat properly. I don't like feeling as if I need to grind to make myself better, because then it's this vague guessing game of numbers. There were a few points in Dark Souls where I felt robbed of a boss fight because I must have been over-levelled, or I said "screw it", summoned an NPC once and then steam-rolled the boss. No hollow victories here in Sekiro - although admittedly, once you get that perfect parry timing down, sometimes victory comes so fast that it almost feels unsatisfying. Happened to me with the final boss, funnily enough.
My annoyances are as follows:

Grapple hook sometimes just decides not to work even when the icon is green, and the range it can grapple from feels very inconsistent. Maybe I'm just stupid. You
can hold down the button in advance so that it auto-activates when in range, but even this felt unreliable.
Sometimes the game misread my inputs during hectic moments, like trying to attack after a parry, it would think I wanted to do a special attack (which is activated by pressing both at the same time). This is, in some small part, my fault too, but maybe there was a better way to bind these attacks?

Demon of Hatred is very frustrating and doesn't quite match the fun of this game. I also gave up fighting all the Headless and Shimichen Warriors because they were quite annoying and didn't feel worth it. The Terror mechanic sucks. Otherwise I did basically every optional encounter because they were fun, challenging, and rewarding. Not just with resources, but with my knowledge of the game expanding after each one.
The game progression is a bit confusing in some places. I took a rather unconventional path and basically completed tons of late-game areas early without realising it (Depths, Sunken Valley, Senpou Temple, etc.). When I had to return there later for main story bosses, it meant I could just warp there, which was cool, but sometimes I was stuck wondering where things were in the world because they would change without warning. For example, I had no idea about The Folding Screen Monkeys because I'd already been there before it was available. I didn't know that I could suddenly do that fight later on, because I had no reason to think that area had changed. Same with finding Lord Isshin after beating Genichiro. This is embarrassing on my behalf, but I had to look up a video for this, because I could not find him, even though he's directly next to the main castle tower. I had already been there before and gotten his note, and the characters were telling me to look outside of the castle grounds for him, and follow the Nightjar smoke signals. While they did lead to his location, they also kept going past it, which made me think he was down in a different area like the Sunken Valley. I felt like an idiot when I found out he was a ten second walk away the whole time, but in fairness, how was I supposed to know he'd suddenly be there when I'd gone there maybe ten hours beforehand and didn't find him? I wasn't going to remember where I found his letter, that was ages ago! Partly my fault, partly the game's fault on that one. Don't know why they specifically said he was in a different castle watchtower outside of the area when he was literally next door.

I got in the habit of holding block and then release-tapping it to parry, which worked wonderfully as it let me keep rebuilding posture in the meantime. Most of the time, I could hold the block button and I'd stay blocking right after an attack or a dodge, but sometimes it just wouldn't happen. I'd be holding block for a second or two only to realise I wasn't blocking at all, and then get hit. Not fun!
Very confused by there suddenly being two Great Serpents. I thought they kept referring to it as "THE Great Serpent" not "ONE OF THE Great Serpents". The context-sensitivity required for certain puppeteer puzzles is a little strange too - certain enemies will have scripted puppet behaviours they perform autonomously, removing much sense of puzzle-solving in these scenarios (like with the monkey next to the snake in the cave).
* I wasted a long time trying to beat the spear guy in the flashback area at the start of the game when I didn't even have the Mikiri Counter yet. I also didn't have the axe which would let me easily get past the shield guys on the way there. Went back to the main game, beat the horse rider boss in a couple tries, unlocked the counter and the axe, went back, and beat the spear guy first try. I understand why they slowly dish out new moves, but I was annoyed that I'd unintentionally made that fight way too hard for myself. I didn't know I was going to unlock a thrust counter had I gone the other way, that's not really my fault.
I think that's most of it. I really, really loved this game and can see myself enjoying it a lot on a second playthrough. The rush of demolishing bosses and minibosses that once gave me a hard time would be incredible. So glad that it has a built-in boss rush mode too, that's awesome. Highly recommend this, but it's not Dark Souls. You can't get by with grinding and stats. For action fans like me, it's just what I wanted.

It only took me three playthroughs but I finally like this game! Still has a lot of baffling decisions sprinkled throughout, though, which isn't new for a Fromsoft game but this game is far more rigid in terms of there being a "correct" way to approach encounters so it only magnifies these issues when they appear. Soulsborne games (and ESPECIALLY Elden Ring) usually have a billion different ways you can break the game over your knee if something is really giving you trouble, but most of the time in Sekiro if the game throws something at you that's bad and sucks you have to actually engage with the thing that's bad and sucks, and that's bad and sucks.
Though once you learn exactly how to deal with everything the game can throw at you and you get even remotely decent at consistently deflecting attacks, the game just turns into total cheese. I replayed the game for the first time in four years and beat nearly every boss and miniboss in one try, and even things like Demon of Hatred and Sword Saint Isshin only took me three tries each. On one hand it feels good to be able to floss on the game to this extent, but once you hit this point it can also kind of feel like you've gotten everything you possibly can out of the game, since despite the amount of prosthetic tools and combat arts you have at your disposal, most are just not worth using and the ones that are worth using are often very situational, so you don't have much room to experiment, much less play the game with different "builds" like you can in Soulsborne games. It doesn't help that you need to complete the game twice if you want to unlock all of the prosthetic tool upgrades, and you'll have to do hours upon hours upon grinding to unlock everything in your skill books only to realize that the only combat arts worth using are still Ichimonji and Mortal Draw.

Toujours en balance avec Bloodborne et Dark Souls pour le titre de meilleur jeu de chez FromSoftware. Une caméra un peu capricieuse par moments mais sinon c'est intestable.

The best demonstration there is that I am right about Dark Souls.