SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE 💀


#943

You’ve actually got four more options featuring other exciting and even novel ways to die, although, granted, two of them are probably gonna require you to sort out your ninja problem.

Said ninjas are really more flashy than dangerous, they can’t really handle a sustained barrage. If you’ve got the asahina style ichimonji (that thing where you stay in place for a second before striking) it’s also super effective against enemies like them that waste time doing flashy close quarter jumps to power up their attacks (tha’ts true for the well guy too). Other option is, of course, sneaking up and backstabbing them, if you take time to figure out their positions instead of grappling around like your first impulse would naturally be in that general area.

This is also the general area where it first dawned upon me that not all prayer beads are held by bosses, you can get some as a reward for exploring extra thoroughly.

RE earlier comments, dodging around isn’t necessary for the bull, if you stay close to it it won’t start running and then it’s just about staying in its back. Also stamina damage isn’t pointless but you may have to weaken the boss’ vitality a bit to slow down their stamina regeneration.

Also, for enemies like the generals, if you’re really getting two-shot it’s always worth a try to just block for a bit, posture tends to last longer than vitality and you can learn the deflect pattern from the clangs.


#944

I tested it out on NG+2, the chained ogre can indeed be deflected but it is the rare enemy whose patterns are an even split of ‘best to deflect’ and ‘best to dodge’. Jump attacks are easy to dodge, kicks and smashes are easy to deflect. The short grab is very easy to dodge or jump away from. The long grab is harder to dodge because of the extreme player tracking but I feel like the lesson taken from that shouldn’t be ‘I better stay really far away’ as much as “I better stay close so that the ogre will only attempt the easy to counter grab”

Anyway I’m already on the last part of going towards Shura Ending so I guess the game clicked with me again (I had some trouble with the changes in NG+ but now I’m used to them)

Only thing left besides that is acquiring all skills… which seems like a painful amount of grinding…


#945

Would anyone have resented danger icons that were more response specific? Red for deflect, blue for dodge etc


#946

There’s often several appropriate responses (like, a critical thrust can be dodged, deflected, mikiri countered, run away from or often even jumped on) and which one’s the best depends on your playstyle, gear and current respective vitality and posture so I feel that’d have taught you the wrong idea that there’s a single way out of every critical attack and no room for research or improvisation. Instead what the danger icon is really telling you is that if you don’t know what’s coming, you should do something generally safe (that isn’t blocking) and look at the shape of the next attack so you have an idea of how to approach it the next time it comes out. Eventually you’ll even learn to spot the tells before the danger icon.


#948

Everywhere in Sekiro , people are deeply wounded, body and soul, by the shinobi’s failures, lending stakes beyond the player’s frustration at yet another botched sword fight. It’s a game that channels the illicit grit of late-night anime movies through a sparse soundtrack and moments of prolonged silence broken only by a background hum of rushing wind or the scrape of feet on roof tiles, metal weapons shifting in scabbards. Sekiro ’s Sengoku period Japan is a place of bright red leaves and snowflakes wisping through craggy, early winter mountains, its muddy forest paths and twisting fortress alleyways hiding otherworldly creatures and human foes around every bend. It’s a game that blends blood-and-dirt historical fiction with myth come to life. In it, samurai aren’t heroic figures, dispatching their enemies with a single, surgical flick of the sword; they’re grunting men who hack at the Wolf with spears and katana, dying with a wet groan as he drives a blade through their sternum and a small volcano of gore erupts from their collapsing frames. Its warrior monks aren’t feather-boned and stoic; they’re maniacal protectors of a twisted version of their faith (more on that later) who attack the Wolf in large groups and overwhelm him with sledgehammer fists that he escapes from like some poor bastard fleeing a violent mob.

Surviving this world requires of the player a willingness to engage with it on its own, markedly homicidal terms. Sekiro is a ninja, which means he spends a lot of time sneaking around, but he’s a master swordsman, too. His style of combat isn’t typically graceful, relying instead on either grabbing and slashing apart an unaware enemy from behind or confronting them head-on with overwhelming martial fury. Sword fights, at least against stronger enemies, are a test of nerves and battering rhythmic challenges, the Wolf deflecting incoming blows, jumping above, and sidestepping around his foe while looking for opportunities to slash away at their defenses until they’re exhausted enough that it’s possible to land a blood-gushing stab into gut or chest. Minor enemies can be beaten down and killed with a few well-timed blocks and attacks. Major ones, from the game’s seemingly endless supply of towering samurai generals, ghostly monks, giant apes, and freakish insect people, are a much harder proposition. Making up Sekiro ’s “bosses,” these characters can kill the Wolf in one or two hits, can withstand several of the same killing blows that finish off regular enemies, and require the player to supply a long period of sweaty hypervigilance to guide the shinobi in whittling away their composure and landing enough furtive sword slashes or gritted-teeth volleys of strikes to actually defeat them.

To put it lightly, these fights are extremely difficult. Each of them is a small puzzle that can only be solved by staying alive long enough to study the opponent’s attack animations, map out spatial windows where engaging or backing away is necessary, and then performing this combination perfectly. The Wolf often dies in two or three hits and he can only reanimate his semi-annihilated corpse a single time per round. In practice, this means that fighting Sekiro ’s bosses is an exacting process of trial, error, and steady-nerved perseverance. To overcome one of these enemies, the player needs to absorb the game’s button inputs and the split-second timing of its sword fighting system to the point of second nature. She must approach a fight that can end in moments with calm, concentration, and unflappable purpose. It’s similar to performing intricate live music, alone on stage with an instrument controlled by fingers all too ready to slip up and blow everything if not adequately trained to do their job when it counts.

This kind of stress is appropriate. Sekiro is a story told, explicitly and implicitly, through the lens of a grim Buddhism that takes a notably despairing view of humanity as it appeared in Japan during the Sengoku period, an era when the country was racked with more than a century of war. Like the bloody expression of Christianity during the Crusades or England’s 12th century Anarchy period (which is described in entries to The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as a time when people “said openly, that Christ slept, and his saints”) faith is expressed in its most desperate terms here. For the characters of Sekiro ’s blood-soaked Japan, the pain of existence has reached a fevered pitch. Life is suffering, rebirth upon rebirth, and so a lonely sculptor, veteran of some war past, endlessly carves Buddha statues with “faces of wrath” in a futile attempt to soothe his guilty conscious and the Wolf dies miserably over and over, coming back to life again and again, hoping to break the seemingly endless cycle of samsara by literally and figuratively seeking release through the zen practice of deadly sword fighting.

The game makes a lot of room to elaborate on the desperate theological struggle that moves its plot. Sekiro fights a wild ape, frenzied from the obvious physical pain of a sword lodged in its shoulder and lashing out in mindless violence at him. Their two reactions to the anguish of their lives plays out in a fight to the death in a waterlogged mountain valley whose rock walls are carved with a giantbodhisattva. It looks down upon them, its carved smile calmly judging their actions. Elsewhere, Sekiro, along with his lord Kuro, gives up any chance of safety once reunited in order to continue fighting to put a stop to their enemies’ plans to harness the power of immortality, a sickening perversion of nirvana best represented by a school of monks whose bodies are colonized into a sickly life beyond death by spiny centipedes. Sekiro and Kuro, quite literally, work to stop the possibility of artificially extended lives, seeing this path as an unnatural shortcut that can only lead to derangement and horror. Most importantly for the way the player engages with the game’s world, the Wolf’s journey is a process of mastering the martial techniques and ways of being—resource management, mental approach to combat, and behaviour toward others—instrumental to the bushido code that would be formalized as the samurai ethos in the century following the game’s time period.

All of this works to give Sekiro ’s difficulty—and its expectation that audiences will devote themselves to studying its systems and mastering its challenges—the sort of context that excuses it from being simply an exercise in masochism for masochism’s sake. Its theological and historical context work together with the often-frustrating experience of mastering its exacting sword fights to create a holistic sutra of a game—a work of fiction that treats the accepted videogame conceits of preternaturally skilled warriors, “respawning” characters, and punishing combat encounters as essential narrative elements in its story of 16th century war and Buddhist thought.


#949

The red danger kanji for perilous attacks is a decent tell that

I don’t really like the idea of varying signals as it would imply there’s more of a specific consistent, ideal reaction to every one, instead of queuing quicker response time and openness in your follow up attack or spacing. Now, what may have brought more clarity is adding an outline or aura to the enemy performing it, but given the approach to everything else in these games unless very subtle, would’ve been very disruptive to the overall look (like a neon ninja-detective mode).

I treated Genichiro in ng+ last night like he does so many players to start, looking forward to the final boss and seeing how I could possibly do the same. Maybe it’s from having all but 2 optional route Prayer Beads and the stacked Memory attack power, but I can afford to play sloppy 75% of the time and just tumble through areas, bosses not so much.


#950

The limited “load out” with this game is nice because you can watch YouTube strategies and know you have the same exact tools as the people who you are watching.

Dark Souls was always discouraging in this regard because it’s mostly people owning a boss with OP gear; not very helpful in terms of strategy.


#951

I think instead of an Easy Mode there should be an option to slow the game down to 75%, 50%, or 25% without penalty. Celeste did this and it was an extremely good idea - I never used it because I didn’t want to, but from an accessibility standpoint, it’s awesome. And I would almost certainly use it in Sekiro to practice some of these absurd boss fights.


#952

I’m always pretty chilly about analogies of vidcon to playing music since the latter is still very much a better use of one’s energies. It’s not really a fair fight


#953

It will be when I finish Sekiro with my Shamisen 2 Custom


#954

There are actually trainers (as in cheat programs) for Sekiro on PC that let you activate slow motion at the press of a button! Don’t know of any that give you a many options as you’d like but maybe they’re out there. Or you could post that suggestion in the respective online forums and hope somebody implements it


#955


#956

Initially the soundtrack felt maybe a cut or two above serviceable, I mean Kitamura’s work is quality and the heavy traditional Japanese style fitting. Aside from a handful of pieces I noted for later or sat and listened to, it didn’t seem as remarkable until my second playthrough or listening separate from the game. Really pretty damn good, granted you don’t mind the conventional bg atmos bits that could fall into other genre similar stuff.

A few faves

Mid-boss tensions

Reminiscent of Souls eeriness, and In Flames very well follows it.

Mountain Monks n Fightin Chants

Serene

Proper menacing, that change at 1:20


#957

In a crowded environment at work just now, I thought I dimly heard the “enemy alerted” sharp string sound effect


#958

Boss caught you slacking again, better grapple away and wait it out


#959

I’d play a stealth action game about slacking off at work


#960

I think that would make for an interesting spin on stealth mechanics, given stealth games are often the most tense and exciting when you’re not doing anything


#961


#962

That was my first mental image as well


#963

This is just my life, but usually when I worry about getting spotted, I just leave SelectButton open anyhow because fuck it.