Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review
From Software has a strong and widely known reputation for the punishing and brutal difficulty of their games. Whether it be the Souls series or Blood-borne, it always feels like you've truly accomplished something when you complete one, and that certainly hasn't changed with their most recent project. Sekiro feels very similar to it's predecessors, yet like a completely different animal at the same time. Dodging and rolling out of the way, then moving for a quick jab is almost useless here, now replaced with a much faster combat system focused on aggression, and accurately timing your deflects. This change in the combat will not only bring a sense of challenge to newcomers, but to souls veterans as well, and I think that's a great thing.
Classic Gameplay With a Twist
It's always surprising how From's games can be so similar in world structure and gameplay mechanics, and yet still feel like such a new and rewarding experience. The story of Sekiro has a more focused narrative structure, but still leaves plenty of lore for players to pick through and obsess over if they desire to do so. The setting starts off as something you'd see in a typical samurai game, before slowly going into a more mythical and nightmarish version of itself as you push forward. It controls just like it's predecessors, but the added grappling hook makes traversing the world an absolute blast, and gives more opportunities for exploration. The tweaking of all these things makes Sekiro feel like a familiar treat that still will manage to surprise you.
The game looks great as well. Whether you're gazing from an Icy mountaintop, or walking through a forest outside a temple, the game always remains very solid visually. If I had to give a complaint from the technical side of things, it would be that when there's a lot of enemies or effects on screen, the games frame rate can dip significantly, which contributed to a couple irritating deaths for me. Other than that, it looks great, and runs quite well. No major technical issues, atleast not on the X.
Boss fights and level of challenge. Is It Fair?
The game only has a few true bosses, the rest are considered mini bosses. This doesn't stop from making some of the mini bosses far more of a challenge than the larger scale ones. For Example: Early on there's a mini boss in the opening hours that attacks you with a giant sword and poisonous breath. It took me several hours to beat him, and the challenge came completely out of nowhere. Yet just a few hours later when I got to a larger scale boss involving a soldier swinging a giant spear on horseback, I breezed through it after 3 attempts. This could just largely depend on my own skillset, but I imagine a lot of players will experience the same thing, which makes for some awkward shifts in difficulty. The last two bosses are highly challenging, and could take multiple hours if you don't have the reflexes, as they largely rely on killing you with cheap attacks that can literally rip away your entire health bar.
Achievements and NG+
The list of achievements is simple, and mainly consists of leveling up your character and gear completely, beating all bosses, and getting all four endings. (which will require four playthroughs, unless you find a way to cheese it through copying saves somehow.) NG+ is very similar to other From Software games. You keep all your upgrades, and enemies get a buff in their health and damage output. It's nothing major, but it helps encourage replay value to an already large game.
Sekiro is a brutally hard, but always engaging journey that manages to surprise the player with the next challenge every time.
•It looks great and sounds solid as well. The gameplay is fast, frantic, yet has a strong strategic edge to it.
•The narrative is more straightforward, but still has plenty of lore for players to dig through.
•Combat is fast, fun, and fluid.
•Some attacks from bosses, particularly towards the end, require extremely fast reaction time, and can lead to some deaths feeling cheap or undeserved.
•The frame rate can dip significantly occasionally.
•Some difficulty spikes are jarring and don't feel natural.