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Review: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Written by Gaming

From Software have done it again – it has been a couple of years since the final DLC released for Dark Souls III, the last fully fledged game released by From, and their efforts have most definitely paid off.

War has ravaged Japan for years. The player character, Wolf, is a shinobi which is a master of stealth, disguise and swordsmanship. Unfortunately, Wolf is stuck in prison until, in true Fromsoftware fashion, you are freed and given a small goal to work towards: free Lord Kuro, the woman who Wolf is sworn to protect.

This first gameplay segment introduces what’s new in Sekiro: the focus on stealth. Stealth allows for instant-kill attacks, which adds a whole other layer to the progression of the game as, for the first time in a souls-like game, you don’t have to fight at all. I really like this inclusion as it requires a different set of skills to the usual combat as it’s even possible to sneak up on bosses to get a headstart.

All this gameplay combined with a winning aesthetic style and incredible sound design that is tense and mystical helps to showcase the love and passion that went into the atmosphere of this game.

Before long, Lord Kuro hands you a sword and you begin your adventure. The combat in this game initially reminded me of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai movies. Wolf’s abilities are initially quite limited. The game has a ‘posture’ meter, which is the new alternative to stamina. Performing blows raises both your own and your opponent’s posture meter, but so does timing parries perfectly.

The goal in combat is to fill your opponents’ posture meter all the way and perform a stylish ‘deathblow’. While this is viscerally satisfying, it only really works well in one-on-one duels, so the difficulty feels cheapened in group fights. Thankfully, these aren’t too frequent and there’s often other ways around them.

Not far into the game, Wolf gains a prosthetic arm, whose creator claims it can use all sorts of tools for shnobi. This is where combat becomes more complex and this is honestly my favourite part of the game. New types of enemies come thick and fast and trying your same-old techniques will get you killed so you must learn new ways to deal with enemies such as by using your newfound prosthetic tools and special types of parries. The countless tools you find have plenty of uses and experimenting is both key and the most enjoyable part of the game.

Just know that it has the most satisfying combat of this gaming generation and that it definitely deserves your time and money.

If you do die, the divine intervention of Lord Kuro allows Wolf to resurrect himself which gives you another chance to rise to the challenge of the gameplay. To compensate for this respawn feature, the bosses of seem to be powered up but, like with any form of necromancy, there comes a price. Death spreads ‘dragonrot’ which is a plague that affects your helpful NPCs, eventually killing them. I love this tradeoff between success and failure, adding further tension to some already very tough fights.

All this gameplay combined with a winning aesthetic style and incredible sound design that is tense and mystical helps to showcase the love and passion that went into the atmosphere of this game.

I could go on, but writing any more about how I feel would spoil how truly enjoyable this title is; just know that it has the most satisfying combat of this gaming generation and that it definitely deserves your time and money.

Last modified: 1st September 2019

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