- A new game from the creators of “Bloodborne” and the “Dark Souls” series is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
- The game is named “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice,” and it’s set in a fictionalized version of Japan’s past.
- Like previous games from the developers, “Sekiro” is as punishingly difficult as it is rewarding.
“Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is one of the best games I never want to play again.
It is gorgeous, absurdly difficult, and masterfully crafted – which is to say it’s very similar to previous games made by From Software, the Japanese development studio that’s known for “Bloodborne” and “Dark Souls.”
Between the surreal, dream-like feel of the world and the extremely tactical gameplay, it’s clear that “Sekiro” is something special. In a fitting twist for From Software, though “Sekiro” is the most beautiful game the studio’s ever made, it may also be the hardest one yet.
First and foremost, what is “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice”? Is it basically samurai “Bloodborne”?
The answer, in short, is yes – “Sekiro” is very much samurai “Bloodborne,” in terms of gameplay.
It’s a third-person action game where enemies are just as powerful as you, often more powerful, and are always in far greater number. The big addition in “Sekiro” from previous games by From Software is mobility – your character can swing up onto perches and away from enemies in an instant.
It otherwise follows a similar structure to “Bloodborne,” with altars standing in for campfires as checkpoints in a semi-open world environment. Each time you stop to save, the enemies all respawn. When you die in a fight – which happens often – you lose a substantial amount of progress.
If you’re looking for a game that demands non-stop focus and endless determination, one that often results in dashed hopes and devastation, “Sekiro” is right up your alley.
“Sekiro” is tremendously attractive. Don’t let that fool you.
Despite its soft colours and rural trappings, “Sekiro” is a game where danger is around every turn. It’s tremendously easy to be killed by even the weakest enemies. Similarly, items for regaining health are in low supply.
This results in a world that is inherently suspenseful, where a single wrong move could easily lead to losing any progress made.
For a lot of people – the millions of people who’ve played and enjoyed the spiritual predecessors from the creators of “Sekiro” – this level of suspense is a draw. For me, the punishment that creates the suspense is a major deterrent.
Since all the enemies respawn each time you die (or save), I spent a lot of time replaying the same enemies over and over. This is a pillar of the “Souls” games, and I expected it from “Sekiro.” Still, just like the acclaimed “Souls” games and “Bloodborne,” the grind of repetition wore on me.
I appreciate what “Sekiro” is, just like I appreciated previous From Software games. I’ve also never finished a single one.
Above all, “Sekiro” is about mastery.
As a samurai game, “Sekiro” is centered around sword fighting. Mastering your movement and swordplay is absolutely critical to progression.
You play as a Shinobi, a rogue agent tasked with protecting a young heir of royal lineage. He’s kidnapped after your character loses a sword fight – and his arm. Thus, your quest to save him begins.
Between you and him is about a trillion different types of enemy, from vicious packs of guard dogs to master samurai to literal giants. Learning how each of those different enemies work, and how to kill them without taking a single hit, is the first step in a very long, very steep staircase of mastery demanded by “Sekiro.”
Along the path up, I died so, so many times. And each time I did, my will to persist diminished just a little bit more.
“Sekiro” is clearly an exceptional game. But after 15 hours of banging my head against the wall, I never want to play it again. Maybe.
“Sekiro” is incredibly impressive. Let me be completely clear that I wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone who even remotely likes any of the “Dark Souls” games, or anyone who enjoyed “Bloodborne.”
Heck, if you’re a “Ninja Gaiden” fan, you’ll probably love “Sekiro.” It is clearly a well-designed, gorgeous, complex game.
It is also devastatingly difficult, and the number one way it punishes players for messing up is by robbing them of time. If you’re silly enough to rush through an area, “Sekiro” is happy to remind you with a sudden, swift death that, no, there is no rushing through this game. “Do that area again!” it shouts. “No rushing!”
That’s totally fine. It’s intentional! I get it. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I can’t do it. Even though I’m still thinking about how, you know, if I just maybe try one or two more times to take down that boss I’m stuck on, I could probably do it. Maybe?
“Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Check out the launch trailer right here:
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