For all of those out there that, like me, thought Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was going to be easy… it’s not. YOU WILL DIE!
- Developer: From Software
- Publisher: Activision
- Genre: Hardcoore RPG
- Release Date:
- Platforms: Xbox one, PS4 and PC
- Reviewed on: Xbox one X
- Game Supplied by: Activision
Sekiro on first appearance looks like an action RPG with a heavy emphasis on story and stealth. You follow the story of the Wolf, a loyal warrior who has devoted his life to the protection and wellbeing of the young lord Kuro.
No surprises but Kuro was kidnapped and while you try to get him back, you lose the fight, your arm and your honour (even if you win in the game you still lose).
From the brink of death you return to fulfil your duties and get revenge.
That is the basis of Sekiro in its simplest form, there are many many more little pieces of lore and details throughout the story but for a simple understanding of Sekiro, that is all you need to know.
I dove in to Sekiro honestly expecting a simple story game with a little added Souls formula, well that’s not what I got. When I was being told about Sekiro, everything to me pointed to a story driven game that had elements of Dark Souls sprinkled in. Very quickly I realised that wasn’t the case, I had jumped into the Japanese brother of Dark Souls.
Sekiro takes no time at all to show you it is serious about making your time in-game as hard as possible and it means it. It wasn’t anything I was expecting, I always found it hard to really immerse myself in the Souls series. I couldn’t follow the story as not much was given to you and it never lit that fire inside of me that made me want to push forward, and that is where Sekiro is different. This time we have a story, a purpose and a reason to care.
Sekiro got me engaged from the start, from the get go you understand why Wolf is doing what he is doing, you know how you ended up in this situation and you understand your purpose in Sekiro.
This is not to say they have eased up, while Sekiro is slightly more forgiving in that you can resurrect once per actual death, there are consequences and trust me, it doesn’t make it easier. If you can’t master dodging, parrying and reading enemies moves to predict what comes next then you could resurrect 6 times and still fail – but this isn’t a bad thing, in fact I applaud From Software for it. Hard is what they are good at and in the current industry where we have developers forced into projects completely outside their speciality it’s nice to see that From Software are sticking to their guns.
Sekiro has evolved from a beloved formula into its own form of what I would call “hard as hell”. It demands perfect execution, Sekiro will bash your head against the floor over and over until you get it right, and by the end you will have a newfound respect for the skill and mastery it demands.
Now that I have warned you, it’s time to show some more love for Sekiro. Graphically it is stunning, truly a whole other level compared to Dark souls. Sekiro has taken its dark and hardcore tone of bloodshed and assassination and made it beautiful. While you stealth your way across rooftops you will notice every detail, the fluid movement and picturesque landscapes. Sekiro is one of the most stunning games I have played on my One X, even with its moody colour palette.
Next on my list of priorities was the mechanics. As a game reliant on skill and timing, this needs to get that right or the whole thing falls apart. Lucky then that they nailed it. Mechanically Sekiro is a well oiled machine of perfectly timed parrys and counters.
Really there was no surprise there considering From Softwares pedigree of timing based combat mechanics.
To aid in all of Sekiro’s glory, the sound brings the whole thing together. It has a haunting soundtrack that is sure to end up on a lot of Souls fans’ shelves, the ambient noise is great at adding to the wonder and beauty of Sekiro’s world as when it all comes together you have no choice but to fall in love with the land they have created, even if it is filled with enemies from earth and beyond hungry for your blood.
Lastly the one half con I have (it’s very important to note this part is entirely based on my preferences of play) – Sekiro is completely single player. Unlike its Souls predecessors there is no more online, no more raids, no more notes.
Sekiro is for you and you alone, although this does come with its own perks in that you can actually pause the game and that can help in the fight.
You could pause to use a potion rather than jamming yourself in a corner to get a brief 2 seconds of peace Sekiro can be paused for any reason in any situation.
I may be a minority in this but I liked the online in Dark Souls. My partner and her friend used to stream Souls and both me and their viewers love jumping in and helping out once in a while, to me it adds to the community around the Souls games ut Sekiro will not have those same capabilities.
Bar the lack of any kind of online/social element Sekiro is a fully fledged game of its own, it has taken a long loved formula and twisted it into something fresh and new.
If you are the sort of player who wants a challenge, Sekiro will not let you down, and even if you just love a good story Sekiro will still fit the bill, just don’t expect to get it given to you easy.