It’s been a long time since the Feudal Japan era had some new skin in the game of gaming.
Tenchu was the king of the PS1 era. Then Ninja Gaiden stole the throne. And now we have a new challenger. Developed by From Software, of Dark Souls fame (and Tenchu for real old heads), Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a third person hardcore action RPG published by Activision. With a lot of similarities, many people have been comparing it very much to the Souls Series since its release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 22nd, 2019. Is the story, action and adventure worth the intense challenge?
Without question, Sekiro takes place in one of the most interesting worlds in video games, especially of recent. Vast mountains and beautiful landscapes turn from peaceful scenery to bloody battlefields in seconds. The development team at From Software definitely put their all into balancing the feel and look of the environments. But, even with all that effort, graphically it isn’t doing anything unexpected or dazzling. The character animations are mostly incredible, which is critically important for a precision based game. However, Sekiro never feels as stunning to look at as some of the other games released this generation.
Twists and turns galore in this adventure of how a lonely boy gets adopted by one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Actuallym it’s even crazier than that. It’s really a master shinobi adopting an orphaned boy and making him a master Shinobi. Then that new master Shinobi being tasked with protecting the legacy of the Ashina family. Seriously, the game gets so deep in the lore that its damn never impossible to really explain it without spoilers. All that needs to be noted is that the story is fire. 🔥🔥🔥 Need further validation? Every single thing you find in the world, key item or plain inventory, has a story attached to it.
It’s always important to remind oneself that no-one could ever truly say what the past sounded like. But, when a company makes their world so realistic that people are willing to debate the realism, they win. In this case the sounds in Sekiro win. There’s an immediate tension generated deep inside when the sound of a blade draw comes whirring out the screen. Or the way the blood splatter and gurgle just make skin crawl. The most important sound in the game however, is the giant roosters cooing. Those damn roosters.
Precision, Precision, Precision! Every single step in Sekrio: Shadows Die Twice is about precision. But unlike past games Souls games, the Wolf is extremely agile. And that’s what makes the game great. The precision strikes feel that much more satisfying when everything feels like it’s happening at mach speeds. On top of the standard gameplay most souls devotees are familiar with, Sekiro has a very strong emphasis on stealth. Shouldn’t be much surprise considering the game is based on the ninja (aka Shinobi) and samurai, but man did they nail it.
The single stand out super feature of the game is by far the prosthetic arm. In all its gadget filled wonder, it adds an additional element of action to the game. At times it’s easy to feel like SpiderMan swinging through the air with the grappling hook. Meanwhile, the various other upgrades bring elements from other incredible heroes and warriors to the forefront. Without spoiling too much it’s important to note that a lot of the upgrades can be missed entirely. In true Souls fashion however, these boss battles prove to be controller breaking tough. And your tiny little health bar leaves very small room for error.
Stealth crawl through tall grass. Hang off the ledge and shimmy across to the other side. Come up and stab samurai through his damn chest. Oh, not a fan of stealth? Hang on, let’s try a different scenario. Walk calmly across the battlefield. Make eye contact with samurai. Draw blade and assume posture. Block then parry samurai’s strong offensive. Slice samurai off balance and stab him in his face. How’s that? See there are so many ways to approach any battle in this game that all play styles work. Want to rush in to battle and take on three samurai at a time, feel free just strike with precision. Want to run across rooftops and drop down on unsuspecting monster size targets to avoid a long battle. Go for it.
It is incredibly easy, once you get the hang of things, to get lost in the captivating world that From Software has created for hours. Even the enemies that look the same all approach battles differently. Almost as if their personalities are on display just as much as their swordsmanship. Despite what the media is saying, this game is not terrifyingly challenging. It is for sure realistically dangerous. One wrong move and its death. That rollercoaster thrill is fun.
The quiet pairing of From Software and Activision created a game the world needed. The redemption of the ninja and samurai. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the unofficial spiritual successor to Tenchu. And despite all the games being great, except for Tenchu Z of course, this one ended up so much better. Sure, it might be a bit more challenging than the standard third person game but it’s worth the price of admission. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a must have for any gaming fan’s library.