Updated: Sep 9, 2021
“Sekiro is like learning how to ride a bike, you will hurt yourself at the beginning.”
Sekiro is a game developed by From Software who are known for their difficult games such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne and Sekiro is no different. The game is set during the late 1500’s in Sengoku Japan, a period also known as the warring states period which is fitting for this game. The director Hidetaka Miyazaki felt this period was perfect as it was medieval enough to allow for mystical themes and the gritty bloody era matched the theme of the world they wanted. You play as a Shinobi who has to protect his master, a young lord called Kuro whilst navigating the war going on all around you, unintentionally influencing said war. It’s a well-built game where if you take you’re time, you’ll piece together a well written story and take satisfaction from every boss you take down.
Sekiro has now been out for just over a year now and won game of the year 2019 so it seems like a good time to revisit it and finally complete all 4 endings. Then I thought to myself, why? I have so many other games I haven’t started yet and thus this list was born. Below I’ve written 5 reasons why you should play Sekiro if you haven’t already or just want a reminder on why this game is so good.
1. You’ll learn kanji.
Death and danger are things we humans like to avoid and it’s no different in Sekiro. You’ll see the Kanji for these a lot as most NPCs in this game want you dead. The Kanji for danger shows up during perilous attacks which come in the form of grabs, thrusts, sweeps and lightning strikes. You’ll be dying to these a lot but once you get used to certain enemies and know what to expect, punishing these perilous attacks becomes very rewarding. Apart from grabs, there are no counters to these unless you’re good at whiff punishing (If so our top fighting games expert Andy is ready to take you down) and even then they still break the flow of combat which means you can never truly overpower a boss and must respect them which keeps them dangerous.
There is also the Kanji for Unseen aid but don’t bother learning this. It’s very beneficial as it stops you losing xp and money when you die but this is capped at a 30% chance and keeps decreasing the more times you die. Did I mention you’ll die a lot in this game?
The combat is either frustrating or seamless. Alas, this isn’t god of war 2005. Hacking and slashing will get you killed. However, taking the time to learn attack patterns and how to punish enemies will leave you feeling like a real Shinobi. My favorite technique is the mikiri counter and it massively punishes all thrust attacks allowing you to kill most enemies immediately or deal massive posture damage to bosses.
Like most other games enemies have a health bar, unlike most other games they also have a posture bar which completely changes combat. It rewards you for your aggression and allows you to kill enemies by breaking their posture instead of worrying about their health. Every time you parry, hit an enemy or force them to block, their posture gauge fills and once full you can use a deathblow on the enemy, this includes bosses too. There’s something gratifying about forcing a boss into submission and killing one rather quickly. The standard formula is invulnerable boss, wait for a weak point to appear, attack weak point and repeat. Sekiro would have you learn attack patterns and punish enemies and bosses. Be warned, you too have a posture bar and if it fills you’ll be open for an attack. The combat is fair and unforgiving but it truly feels like an even playing field whatever boss/enemy you fight….. expect for the demon of hatred, fuck that guy.
Like others from software games the story isn’t spoon fed to you, you must go out and find it which means your combat skills must be top notch to traverse the world. It’s not enough to stick to the main path if you want to experience the full story. Mini bosses can be avoided but you lose the prayer beads they drop which give you extra health and more information about Ashina, the land where the game takes place.
Resurrection is a big part of the story hence the name “shadow’s die twice”. Resurrection is also behind a lot of Ashina’s troubles. Mibu village is afflicted by the rejuvenating waters which drives the residents mad, Senpou temple has been corrupted and the monks who have sacrificed their vows in the pursuit of immortality but it has come at a grave cost and in the abandoned dungeons, inhumane acts are carried out under the guise of science. You don’t have to fully explore all these areas but as cliché as it is, Sekiro is a game where the journey is a lot more fun than the destination. These side stories/lore add layers to the main story and satiate a lot of the curiosity you’ll have playing the main game.
The music is eerie when traversing the land keeping you tense and will grind to a halt when an enemy/enemies becomes suspicious, this isn’t such a problem if it’s just the one but a group of enemies can easily overwhelm present you with the death Kanji you know so well. The music is pulse pounding when combat finally starts and unrelenting. There is a sense of urgency that can cause you to panic but once you find your rhythm the panic leaves you and the music playing becomes the backing to a dance as you match strikes with the enemy to deflect, dodge, parry and riposte your way to victory. There’s also a sound that plays when a perilous attack comes my way that still terrifies me even now.
5. Bragging rights.
Beating Sekiro means beating a From Software game and Sekiro is also easier to beat than Darksouls or Bloodbourne in my opinion. This is not to stay that Sekiro is an easy game, far from it. However it doesn’t suffer from poor hit boxes, unfair bosses or the rpg level up element seen in other soulsborne games (nothing wrong with RPG elements, but getting your stats wrong could hinder your progression). Sekiro is a more streamlined experience where the best way to get better is to unlock new skills, find new items and get better at combat. It’s also possible to pause the game which allows you to take a breather or say hello to unwelcome relatives who visit without dying in game.
Over a decade of games design went into Sekiro and it’s a great starting point for those who want to start playing souls games.
“But remember, Sekiro is like learning to ride a bike, once you know how to do it, you’ll never forget.”
Post written by Dr, KillScreen