A Review of ‘Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’ by From Software

Overall Rating: Recommended with Reservations(How I Rate Books Or in this case games)

Personal Rating: Hard, Rewarding, and Fun. Super compelling gameplay. Only for patient people/people who can deal with frustration. I loved the setting, the lore and the theme. If this were a book, I’d be envious of the author for writing such a good story.

Spoilers below!

This is one of the best games I’ve played in years. I’ve never played a ‘hard but fair’ game before, and I have to say I liked this introduction to the genre. The game at times does hold your hand to help you with the difficulty, but no matter how you cut the mustard this game WILL force you to have good reaction times. If you have poor reaction times or are easily frustrated, this game just not for you.

I liked the Sengoku era Japanese setting, seeing samurai fighting ninjas and Buddhist monks, with animistic gods and monsters and ghosts providing secondary villains in the background, plus a hint or two of a wider world outside of Japan. If I could get stories like this more often I’d be happy.

I liked the characters. I don’t say this often, but From Software’s technique of using a light hand towards characterization did a lot to add style to the story overall. We don’t learn a lot about them a la Bioware, but we learn just enough to make them deeply compelling. Sekiro was a terse, kinda emotionally stunted ninja. Emma was the good hearted healer devoted to protecting Kuro and Sekiro. The Sculptor was the repentant shinobi who struggles trying to hold his inner demons at bay. Genichiro, Isshin, Kuro, Kotaro and the Divine Child all had compelling character arcs despite not having much lore or interaction with the main character.

I’m a fan of ninja-like gameplay already. I loved the Dishonoredgames, and I liked Aragami, two games with teleport-based, stealth gameplay. Sekiro had high-mobility stealth gameplay like those, but it also had in-your-face swordfighting gameplay which rewarded the player’s technique over button mashing. I would have liked if there were non-violent options to play this game, but simply put it was impossible. I will give Sekiro this, though: this game’s combat was really, really refined. You can’t button mash in this game like in others. You have to be aware of your options, your surroundings, and you have to be prepared to counter whatever your opponent is about to do.

This game is difficult. I want to give this a Highly Recommended rating, can’t in good conscious give it one. It’s just too hard and I don’t think this game has a broad appeal as a result. So while this is one of my favorite games of all time, I have to give it a Recommended with Reservations rating



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