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Sword Saint, Isshin Ashina

Defeated "Sword Saint Isshin Ashina"

Sword Saint, Isshin Ashina+0.1
5 guidesOffline Game ModeSingle PlayerMain Storyline
BudaBuda392,104
28 Mar 2019 05 Apr 2019
9 0 6
This is the final boss for the "immortal severance" ,"return" and "purification" endings.

As far as I know there are no cheese strategies so you have to do this the hard way.

Genichiro can be killed easily by high pressure, try to deflect his attacks and attack him as often as possible. Watch out for his mortal draw attack. It has a long windup so it is rather easy to dodge. Do not use more than 2 healing gourds for this fight. You can kill him with minimal losses, use a pellet at the start of the isshin fight, there should be enough time before he attacks you.



Now for the main fight. Isshin has 3 phases

Phase 1: In this phase Isshin only uses his sword. He has 4 main attacks and a 3 hit combo which is very slow and should always be deflected. His first attack is Ichimonji double. Sidestep and punish. Second attack is a form of the Ashina draw technique you can unlock in the Ashina style skill tree. He charges up the attack and dashes towards you to hit you twice. Simply run away quickly and run back when he did his two strikes for easy hits. The third attack is some kind of wind slash. He slashes twice, just run to the side and try to attack him quickly. He has another attack where he slashes around him in a very wide radius. You either jump over it or run far away. You should ideally finish this phase using only 1 healing gourd. If you have less than 5 gourds after this phase, restart. The randomness of the following phases forces you to have spare healing gourds.

Phase 2: This phase is super difficult. After you give him a deathblow he sends out a shockwave that knocks you away. You can run behind him if you are fast and hit him once or twice but watch out for the spear he draws out from the ground since he can damage you while doing it. He uses a spear and a sword during this phase. His reach is massive, keep your finger on block just to be safe even if you think you are far away. I have not found a way to bait his thrust attack for easy mikri counters but always keep an eye out for them. When he leaps up into the air you have two options: 1. Sidestep for a freehit or two. 2. Try to deflect but keep in mind that he does another followup attack sometimes that you also have to deflect. You can chip away at him whenever it is safe but I won't recommend it.

Play very aggressive. Keep attacking him, when he deflects you have to react fast because the wind up time on his attacks is very short. Keep an eye out for thrust attacks, counter them with mikri for massive posture damage, after mikri he will be too far away for a hit, step closer, hit him and step back again.

Phase 3: This phase seems daunting at first but it is much easier than the others. Try to memorize the wind up animation for his lightning attack. Jump into the air and hit RB at the lightning bolt and try to hit him with it for massive damage and a stun. Follow up with a hit and back off.

Thats it. There is no easy way to kill him. This fight is a true test of skill. If you absolutely can't finish it watch one of the speedrunners do it. They have a few tricks I didn't mention.
bigsmok3rIs this boss part of story progress or do you need to do one of the endings? You should add that, Good description though. I'm doing the purification ending and just beat Owl so will I fight him this playthrough or not? Thanks for the tips ahead though+1toast
Posted by bigsmok3r on 29 Mar 19 at 19:38
BudaMy pleasure. This boss only appears during immortal severance and return endings.
Posted by Buda on 29 Mar 19 at 22:30
Arch AdoniasActually, you have to fight this boss for 3 endings. Purification, Return, and Immortal Severance.

Also, I'd like to add that being aggressive in Phase 2 is only what you wanna be doing in the sense that you're staying in his face. The easiest way through this part of the fight is actually to play very defensively. Keep deflecting his attacks, keep your guard up to gain posture back, and he will basically tire himself out with minimal effort on your part. All you really have to do is keep going for the mikiri counter when he thrusts (which he will do often), and get one or two hits in afterwards. Do note though, that he will also occasionally do a sweep attack (he almost always does this after his single charged blast gun shot), so don't let yourself get caught off guard by that too often.
Posted by Arch Adonias on 30 Mar 19 at 19:11
ImaginaryRuinsAgree with Adonias; play defensively for phase 2, but play offensively for phase 1. In phase 1, you can attack once, deflect once, attack once, deflect once... repeat until Isshin breaks the pattern, but for phase 2, his attack becomes much less predictable.

Isshin uses the spear thrust in four ways. He can use it independently (rarely), in his 3-hit combo (less common), in his 7-hit combo (more common), and when you are in range after he fires his pistol four times. Since he always uses the thrust at the end of the combo, it is not too hard to mikiri it.
Posted by ImaginaryRuins on 05 Apr 19 at 16:44
FoogaThis boss fight’s 3rd and 4th phase is incredibly easy to cheese. If you keep running from him he does two range attacks, one where he whips out his pistol and the other where he does a lunge. If you run at the right side of him (your right, his left) as he does the lunge you can get a running stab into his back. Then just run away and repeat.

When we were both low towards the end of the fight I noticed this and realized if you wanted to do it for the entirety of those last 2 health bars, it’s very doable.
Posted by Fooga on 09 Apr 19 at 17:26
Visions of GoreGreat guide! +1. I was gonna post something similar but you worded it better lol. You are spot on with it too. I died SOOOOOOO many times (it's embarrassing) trying to cheese with multiple strategies.. The best way really is to learn his moves and be able to parry. I kept trying to rush and getting frustrated. Fooga is right about his strategy, I saw someone on YouTube pull it off, I just couldn't master it.
Practice on Genichiro until you can kill him without healing. Seriously. Don't worry about progressing the fight until you can whoop his ass. Then do the same with Isshin phase 1. That way, you go into phase 2 & 3 fully stocked, and it's not a big deal if you die learning his moves and parry timing.
When I switched my mindset to this, I was able to focus and beat him on around my tenth attempt. toast
Posted by Visions of Gore on 10 Apr 19 at 23:47