- Developer: From Software
Review: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, may shape up to be the most controversial release of 2019 although we still do have a long 8 months ahead of us. From Software's newest offering is often a flurry of blades, shuriken and jump kicks and yet it always tells a story. Perhaps this is what is most engrossing about From Software's releases, the intricate detail and care that Hidetaka Miyazki uses to craft his visionary worlds. No other games offer players… Expand
Review: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, may shape up to be the most controversial release of 2019 although we still do have a long 8 months ahead of us. From Software's newest offering is often a flurry of blades, shuriken and jump kicks and yet it always tells a story. Perhaps this is what is most engrossing about From Software's releases, the intricate detail and care that Hidetaka Miyazki uses to craft his visionary worlds. No other games offer players the depth of story telling and thought provoking exploration or even the most delicate questions of existentialism that Sekiro dares to. From games aren't easy to understand, nor are they easy to play - something that unfortunately seems seems to overshadow the quality of game design for mainstream media outlets.
Dropping you into the middle of a war-torn Sengoku period Japan offers a romantic glimpse into the brutal time period that saw Japan endure political turmoil and social upheaval as the nation was ripped apart by feuding Lords and their loyal followers. You play the titular role of Sekiro, the One-Armed Wolf, resting in an abandoned well indifferent the fighting going on around you. A summons dropped into the well directs you to seek out Young Lord Kuro, and this is where our adventure begins. You travel unarmed through hostile territory, this section of the game acting like a stealth tutorial as you slither past all of your well armed opposition. You must only reach Lord Kuro for the game to really kick into full throttle.
Upon meeting up with your young master you are gifted a blade, the , Lord Kuro, you are tasked with whisking him away from the castle which is under siege and laying in rubble all around you. Your escape is stopped by Genichiro Ashina, and Lord Kuro is taken against his will. Thanks to something called the Divine Blood of the Dragon's Heir you survive an otherwise mortal wound and awaken in a Buddhist Temple, rescued by a mysterious monk. This monk offers you shelter and provides you with a fancy prosthetic arm that is intended to even the odds in your quest for revenge and to obey the Iron Code you have sworn yourself too.
Publishing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice through Activision was most likely a move to get a larger audience introduced to what i'd argue is actually Miyazaki's most inviting and most commercially friendly game. Cries from the well known gaming publications have been denouncing the title as "too difficult", with many going as far as claiming an "easy mode" is required and that the non-inclusion of one is "disrespectful to gamer's". These are most likely the opinions of individuals who did not want to commit to the game, which requires a certain amount of learning and in the cases of seasoned Soul-Borne veterans, perhaps forgetting the old tricks. I spent about 2-3 hours each on a handful of the end game Bosses that were extremely challenging. I earned my wins through trial and error, learning and not getting butthurt enough to turn the game off and I felt immense accomplishment in doing so; in other words, Sekiro's challenges promoted growth.
No longer bound by a stamina meter, our protagonist Sekiro is unhindered in his running, dodging, grappling and swordsmanship. It's a refreshing way to approach From games, not having to worry about managing more than a health bar. The narrative moves at a swift pace when you eventually "figure it out" or when you have that glorious moment when it all just "clicks" like so many other people playing this game, myself included. The combat is thrilling and requires your laser focused attention as you not only strike, but are also required to deflect incoming attacks in order to build your enemies posture meter or to deal vitality damage against them. In Sekiro posture is perhaps even more important than health with fights ending quickly if you can fill your opponents posture gauge, effectively breaking their guard and opening them up for an insta-kill deathblow (accompanied by glorious geysers of spraying blood too!). Bosses also have posture meters and vitality bars, however, they sometimes have multiple vitality bars requiring several deathblows to get the job done or huge health pools so building up the posture meter won't actually be effective and is actually dam near impossible.
Sekiro is engaging in both it's action filled game play and with it's highly detailed NPC's and intricate world. Make no mistake, this isn't a title for the lighthearted or for those that may want something that requires minimal focus and/or input from the player. Not only must you follow the combat closely to win but you need to pay attention to the stories of the people around you in order to proceed and end the game the way you want too as there are multiple endings depending on a few different choices you make during the course of your time with it. This title has certainly shaken up the Souls-Borne community and the gaming world at large, with many people who were expecting to be good at the game simply because they've played the Souls games beforehand feeling let down or defeated at not being able to bully From Software Bosses through cheap exploits or oversights in game design as in past titles. or maybe, just maybe because in 2019 everything is supposed to be for everybody and Sekiro just requires too much attention from a generation of gamer's that isn't willing to invest it. For my money this is one of the best games I've purchased in years and will likely end up as one of 2019's best titles. Close
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