First Thoughts on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Updated on April 26, 2019
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Luke is an appraiser in Texas and has been playing video games and reading comic books since childhood. He's a bearded family man in plaid.

Brutal and Beautiful

From Software's newest game is incredible. Every step you take gives the player a dynamic example of Sekiro's environment. Each battle feels as dangerous as the first. Gameplay is fluid and the grappling hook mechanic is on par with Marvel's Spider-Man on the PS4.

Warning: some slight spoilers will be addressed in this article. Read at your own discretion.

More Like Shadows Die All the Time

Video game publisher From Software is famous for it's genre-defining series Dark Souls and it's spiritual half-brother Bloodborne. These games are notorious for being difficult and take time and patience to master. The player is thrown into a dangerous world that wants to kill you and ruin your day.

For those that have never played a Souls game before, the key mechanic of the game is you are punished for dying. Defeating enemies grants you a type of currency that allows you to unlock skills and level up and when you die that currency, commonly called "souls" are gone. Usually you have a chance of retrieving them, but if you die again without reaching your death site, they're gone forever. This is the frustrating appeal of these types of games. I was playing a Souls-esque game called Nioh and I lost over 40,000 amrita, their version of souls in the game. Because of that I haven't played Nioh for almost a month.

Sekiro is no different when it comes to dying. The player is punished for their mistakes but these cruel lessons force the player to learn from them. There is a new mechanic or "gimmick" in the game called resurrection, which gives the layer a second chance and live to fight another day with all of their currency in their pocket.

So far I've died around twenty times as I'm still trying to master the blocking technique known as deflecting. It's funny how bad I am at these kind of games sometimes, but if a friend is watching and gets a laugh out of my frustration then I'm ok with it.

Wolf versus Samurai. Good luck.
Wolf versus Samurai. Good luck.

You Are Ninja

You play as Wolf, the one-armed shinobi. This is not that huge of a spoiler, as Wolf's prosthetic arm has been featured often when advertised. The new arm gives our hero a new way to interact with the environment and with the potent enemies that populate the beatufil landscape. Trained since childhood in the ways of the ninja, Wolf is dedicated to his young master and has vowed to protect him even if it results in his death. He is relentless and determining on the player's skill, he is an unstoppable instrument of violent death.

One of Wolf's vital skills as a shinobi warrior is his ability to deflect an attack. It puts your opponent off-balance and will eventually give the player the opportunity to deliver a fatal stroke of the sword, which has the not-so endearing title of "deathblow." While enemies have health bars, the most efficient way to defeat them is by wearing them out, a kind of stamina called "posture," and dealing them a deathblow, which has the potential to instantly kill them.

The player can level up an unlock skills in Sekiro from gaining experience points from fights. They can also locate upgrades for their prosthetic arm. These upgrades range from what is basically a shuriken-gun, a shield-breaking ax, to a literal flamethrower. Attachments like this can create an advantage over an opponent and possibly turn the tide of a difficult battle.

The Hook

The one factor that literally pulls this game away from being Dark Souls with a ninja aesthetic is the grappling hook. This mechanic opens up a whole new way to approach enemies. In their previous titles, From Software didn't even allow the player's character to jump let alone practically zip away like an ancient Spider-Man. This addition to the game gives it a fresh and exciting way for gamers to play Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

The Triple B: Big Boss Battles

I'm still early in-game, but from what I've seen of boss battles, I've got some rough times ahead of me. From Software's bread-and-butter is terrifyingly large bosses that deal out incredible damage. These bosses range from giant snakes, big gorillas, to a huge warrior mounted and an equally huge horse. These battles test the player's skills and are a great trope that the publisher excels at delivering.

Should You Buy?

This game is so much fun. Even a "filthy casual" like myself can find multiple hours of entertainment out of this new gem from the renown publisher From Software. If you like amazing visuals, immersive and dynamic combat, and a challenge, then I would highly recommend this game to you. If you're prone to breaking controllers out of frustration, then you might want to skip this one. Or just invest in multiple controllers.


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