Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review – Written By Jose Vega
Product received for review as a gift from a friend.
From Software… they are responsible for many games ranging from Armored Core to the Souls series. After the release of Bloodborne, people wondered what was next for the company. In 2016, they detailed that they were busy on a new IP and two years later at E3, they announced Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Released a few months ago, it would go on to garner much praise. Does it deserve the praise that it got or is this a journey you should pass up?
It’s story takes place in a re-imagined Sengoku period in late 16th century Japan. You take control of a shinobi named Wolf, adopted son of Owl. In it, you hope to meet up with Kuro, heir of the Dragon Heritage. Things go bad when he loses his arm after facing against Isshin Ashina’s son, Genichiro. Wolf eventually wakes to find that he has a special prosthetic arm. With a new arm and purpose, he travels to Ashina in hopes of rescuing Kuro and taking down anyone that gets in the way of his objective.
Sekiro’s story is well done. A tale about a Shinobi who wishes to protect his Lord from anyone that desires his power is intense. It has a few moments here and there but most of the time the story occurs when you talk to certain characters. Though it does pick up at certain points and can lead to some great stuff, most of it happens when Wolf interacts with them. Cutscenes are aplenty here and they provide the player what to expect in the game. The story here is one of many positives Sekiro has.
But what about the gameplay? I’m here to say that Sekiro has really solid gameplay. You can run and attack as much as you like. However there are a few things that set it apart. First being Resurrection. When you die, normally you would return to the last place you saved but in Sekiro, it works differently. Since the protagonist has a bit of Kuro’s blood, he can revive. He can come back to continue the fight. There’s a catch. Repeated resurrecting after dying can bring a curse called Dragonrot, that can infect and sicken other people. You can heal those afflicted by this but it’s a reason why surviving is crucial. Also should you die, you lose half your experience and Sen, the game’s currency. But if you receive Unseen Aid, that can be avoided. You do get more opportunities to revive as you play so you shouldn’t be careless. Another thing is Posture. If there is anything this game will teach you, it’s to block and deflect. Sure you can block attacks normally but it builds up via Posture gauge. Should you block too much, the gauge breaks and you’re wide open. But this also works both ways for the enemy as well. The addition of posture opens a whole new level of strategy. Sometimes draining their posture by deflecting instead of dealing damage to an enemy’s health can give you what you need to bring the pain & it really adds something fresh to a game like Sekiro.
Last but not least is the Shinobi Prosthetic. It’s one of the most important items in the game and for good reason. This item is home to many secondary weapons you will acquire on your journey. Many of them come as items that you need to implement into the prosthetic. Once they are in, you can use them at anytime but you are limited to only 3 so using what’s best for the situation is crucial. The items can also be upgraded and it can lead to some crazy combinations. But regardless, all of this along with the many consumables you will find gives players so many avenues for strategy and it’ll all be needed to survive the world of Sekiro.
Sekiro is a challenging game. Is it long? Yes. On normal circumstances, players can go through the game in roughly 15-20 hours. It’s length extends via New Game Plus and considering that you can make it harder adds more to the challenge. It adds more to the fun and it’s all the better for it. The game is pretty to look at. It’s presentation captures the feel of a world that carries mysticism and the feel of being a samurai, forced to survive. Every place you explore has something different to tell. Not only that but it runs seamlessly at 60 frames per second. Truly awesome. Character models are excellent. They are expressive and seeing them in battle is good. Sekiro also has voice acting and they delivered a good job. This game has both English and Japanese voices. Best of both worlds and for players, they can choose to change the voices at anytime in the options menu. Music is alright and they mostly arrive at certain points in the game such as boss fights. They are impressive and carry the tension that to survive, you got to fight and you have to win.
For all the positives I can give about Sekiro, I have only one negative with this game. It being that the game is hard. Yes. It’s a hard game but also a rewarding one. Sekiro is a game that will punish you if you either don’t know what you’re doing or you’re being careless. Losing half your money and experience notwithstanding. There’s no easy mode either. Sekiro actually got criticism because critics didn’t like how difficult the game was and suggested that an Easy Mode be implemented. So the game can be tough but that’s the point. From my experience, I have issues where the game can amp up the difficulty but it’s what makes it work. It’ll test you and the game rewards those that endure it.
In conclusion, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a difficult yet rewarding game. The game looks great, plays solid and has unique mechanics that offer something fresh. Despite its only negatives, this game delivers. It’s a game that feels familiar yet different. It’s length is enough to keep players going but the difficulty may turn off some people. Regardless, Sekiro is worth your time. It’s worth it if you want to experience one of the best games released this year. That’s a true fact.
I give Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice a 9 out of 10. It’s worth your purchase price.