Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Review



Introduction

This is the first title from developer FromSoftware that has really caught my interest and after checking it out, I found myself investing a large amount of time enjoying all that it has to offer. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has everything I would want in a video game: an awesome story, amazing combat, and a wonderful world to explore.


Pros and Cons

Pros

-A wonderfully crafted story tied to an amazing world to explore

-Fantastic enjoyable, and fun challenging combat that will make you feel like you are in a sword fight

-Unique Shinobi Prosthetic Tools to utilize to help you in sticky situations

-Eye-catching graphics that are just beautiful to look at

-An amazing soundtrack that fits the late Sengoku Period theme


Cons

-The issues were so minor that they did not meddle with my experience


Story

The story starts out in the late functional Sengoku Era near the end of the war when Owl, a master shinobi, comes across a small child on the brink of death on the battlefield. He decides to rescue the child and call him Wolf. From then, over the next 20 years, he trains Wolf in the way of the Shinobi.


Owl assigns Wolf to protect his young master Kuro, who is a descendant of an ancient bloodline that has the ability to grant immortality. Three years later, a rival clan captures Kuro, wanting to take advantage of his ability for their own benefit.


During Wolf's attempt to rescue Kuro, he is defeated and left unconscious on the ground with a severed arm. After waking and understanding his situation, he meets a Monk who supports Wolf by providing him with a prosthetic arm and also confirming that Kuro is still alive. Equipped with a new Shinobi prosthetic tool to help him on his mission, he sets out to rescue his master.



I love Sekiro’s story as it is crafted wonderfully with much to unravel. There are many mythological references, which I found very fun and interesting. I also appreciate the use of colors throughout the environments that are tied to Japanese culture.


Not only is the story great, but the world itself is full of mystery. There is so much I want to know about it, from the locations, to the characters, enemies, bosses. It’s like every character teases you with a hint of a backstory that makes you curious to know more about them.


Gameplay

Have you always wanted to know what it feels like to be in an actual sword fight? Sekiro does this greatly. When facing off against enemies you will see a stamina meter called Posture that builds up each time you damage someone or deflect their attacks. Once it fills completely, your enemy will be stunned and be unable to move for a short period of time which opens an opportunity to attack. Be careful though, as they can do the exact same thing to you, this adds in a strategic element.


When you defeat enemies or bosses, you obtain EXP ,which you can use to level up, earning you more skills for Wolf to use in combat. When an enemy or boss's health bar has been depleted, you can perform a Shinobi Death Blow. This is a finishing move that I recommend doing frequently, as you are invincible while performing the move.


Combat can get quite challenging as enemies will have all sorts of tricks up their sleeve. However, you must learn to master the fundamentals of Sekiro, learning the mechanics and flow of the combat. As soon as you master the controls, Sekiro's difficulty can be very manageable, allowing you to feel powerful and in control of the combat experience. You should have such a feeling of pride after figuring out their mechanics and patterns.


There will be times when you will die in combat, you are not out of the fight, as Wolf can revive himself. Sometimes if timed rightly, you can use your extra life to get the drop on enemies for a surprise attack. There are some enemies that can revive themselves as well, you are not the only shadow that can die twice. This really keeps you on your toes to pay attention to your surroundings.



Shinobi Prosthetic Tool

The Shinobi Prosthetic Tool is a device that will help you on your journey throughout the game, with a variety of uses. It comes equipped with a grappling hook, allowing you to reach higher areas which can sometimes be used to grapple onto bosses for close melee combat. You can also obtain other tools to assist you with the prosthetic, like a Shuriken (Throwing Stars), a Flame Vent, and a Loaded Axe. My favorite one has to be the Shinobi Firecracker as it stuns enemies for a few seconds, which I found very beneficial on most of the bosses. You need materials to increase your tools effectiveness, which you can gather by killing various enemies.


All of these require Sprite Emblems to use, which are collected as you kill enemies throughout your journey. Another way to get them is by spending Sen, the currency system in the game that is dropped by the enemies that you kill.


Shinobi Arts

There are several skill trees that you can choose to put your skill points on, to help shape your play style. I chose Shinobi Arts, which focuses on stealth tactics and is perfect for those who prefer to do things quietly. You can get a variety of useful skills like the Whirlwind Slash, Mid-Air Deflection, and Shadowrush. I highly recommend getting the Mikiri Counter as it is one of the most useful skills in the game, which will help build your Posture quickly. This seems to increase the stamina meter quicker than most of the other defensive skills that you get.


Graphics, Performance, and Soundtrack

Sekiro has to be one of the most beautiful games that I have played. Each area is crafted wonderfully with bright and colorful environments that transition very well into darker gloomier ones, keeping a fresh pace as you explore the world. This helps to show us that not every area is full of bright colors, and that there are some darker corners of this world.


I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and 16 GB of RAM. I experienced no issues while I was playing and sat at 60 FPS with no slowdowns. You will need a decent computer to run this game, at max settings, though.


The soundtrack for Sekiro is really fitting for the late Sengoku period that the game was aiming for. Some of the songs really catch the moment when you initiate combat with an enemy or boss.



Final Thoughts

Sekiro is truly amazing! I have never played anything like this before, having everything that I would want in a video game that executes everything it wanted to accomplish expertly. This has made it to my list of simply perfect games out there. I’d even recommend Sekiro at full price as there is just so much to experience, adding good replay value to try to experience it all.



Steam Store Page

My Original Review