SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE
By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on April 1, 2019
After playing the games from the illustrious Souls series for over a decade, I felt like an abandoned dog strapped to a tree watching its owner drive away into the dark of night, when the developers announced the end of the series. I didn't know if they would return, or what would happen next. I tried to escape from my leash and set out to find a new owner, but there was no one who matched or, better yet, even came close to my previous master. Then after truly a dark period in my life, word came from out of the abyss. The master had returned... FINALLY!
Sekiro, Shadows Die Twice, tells the story of the "one-armed Wolf"; a warrior of once great renown, but who is now disgraced and disfigured. You are taken from death's grasp by a man called "the Sculptor". As you take the role of said warrior, you are bound to protect a young lord, who just happens to be the descendant of an ancient bloodline. In taking this responsibility, you will have to battle multitudes of dangerous enemies, not least of which are well-trained warriors from the rivaling Ashina clan. And wouldn't you just know it? The young lord is captured! So you set out to rescue him and there is nothing, not even Death itself, that can stop you from reaching your goal and regaining your honor.
Sekiro's bloodline is can be easily traced back to the Souls series, which basically means the game is hard, but truly rewarding when you succeed in successfully making your way through it. Because the game is so hard at first, you will have no choice but to get better at playing it. There are many ways to play, so you can really make it your own by choosing the playstyle that best suits your preferences. Be a stealth ninja assassin, a balanced swordsman or just a mad raging samurai.
There is no character creation, there are no other weapons or armors to find. It's just you, your trusty Katana and your prosthetic arm. During your quest, you will be able to upgrade and customize your skill set and prosthetic tools, making you more effective in combat and more equipped to deal with the onslaught of enemies. "Shadows Die Twice" is a reference to an all new and important game mechanic; after you die in combat there will be a small window during which you can hit a button to resurrect yourself right where you died. This is what makes Sekiro different from the other games in the Souls series.
The best part of Sekiro is undoubtedly the prosthetic arm. You will receive this right at the start of the game, so don't worry; you won't have to play for days to be able to use this unique and awesome piece of equipment. Practically seconds after you get the arm, you will be swinging from tree to rooftop like a fully fledged Spiderman. I didn't think they could improve Dark Souls, but with the addition of running, jumping, sliding and now a grappling hook... Damn... This is just a whole new level of awesomeness! You are a swift and nimble warrior, who can hide in tall grass, hang from ledges and even grapple towards rooftops and enemies. You can stalk your prey and jump on top of them from a tree branch. You can do it all in Sekiro.
After playing the Souls series games for so long, I had trouble finding a game that would tickle my fancy. And I mostly felt like just running through a game to clear it and get it over with. But when I played Sekiro, I was captivated from the second the first cinematic trailer started rolling. I set off on this epic quest, searched every nook and cranny , climbed every ledge and fell down every hole... I probably shouldn't have done the latter because it will actually make the game harder, but it was all worth it. I love the setting of Late 1500 Sengoku Japan. The scenery is beautiful, the wind, snow, trees, blossoms,... everything is just perfect! Some of the paths you will take are planned and choreographed to absolute perfection. Just climb up a mountain path and you will see what I mean. As soon as you reach the top of the mountain, the wind carries the blossoms from a nearby tree as the sun sets in the distance and you can oversee over the valley beneath you, you will stop and enjoy the view, Trust me...
In my opinion, Sekiro is made up of the best elements of all the Souls games combined. IT features great open world levels, designed to explore, multiple routes and optional bosses to fight and beat during your quest. You will, however, need to be comfortable with losing half your stuff every time you die, as is customary with games from the Souls series. The only downside this time, is that you can't get your lost stuff back... errrr... Yes, I probably should have mentioned this earlier... BUT WAIT! There is a small chance that Buddha himself will reach down from the skies and save your stuff... although this chance gets smaller and smaller every time you die... Bu they, what did you expect? It is a FromSoftware game after all!