Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review
Welcome to Feudal Japan, you will hate your time here. OK, you won’t, but this Souls and Bloodborne-esque experience is one that will have you throwing controllers, swearing at your TV, but always pulling you back for more punishment, and more learning experiences. It’s a different take on the ultra-hard-core video game experience, but each and every death teaches a valuable lesson that becomes important down the road, which was the driving reason to get me playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice hours upon hours.
It’s your typical video game narrative: save a specific person, save the kingdom, yada yada. It’s good, great even at times, but nothing earth shattering. But that isn’t the reason you play Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It’s a combination of everything the game throws at you, offers to you, and takes away from you. It’s an experience like nothing else, and one I’m glad I stomped through.
Death, Death, and more Death
This is the essence of Sekiro. Lots of dying. But lots of dying means lots of learning, and you quickly realize this is not a hack and slash experience you can blow through with the right equipment attached. Instead it takes precision, careful planning, and strategy, something too few games today require. Sekiro requires it, around every corner. And not after a few hours of game play either; nope, it’s required within the first 30 minutes. Strap in folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
The combat works so well, however. When wearing down enemies with counter attacks and deflections, you will get the opportunity to perform a heavy duty attack, usually killing your opponent – low level enemies – or at the least, severely wounding them. This combat style works well, and adds a strategic element not often present in modern video games.
And when you do fail in a combat situation, that does not mean your game just ends. You can opt to revive yourself and keep fighting, or return to a previous checkpoint and try again. There are consequences to dying and reviving yourself in the moment, but what those consequences are and how they impact the game could be a fairly large spoiler! Try it out, and you’ll see why.
When you are not dying minute after minute, it’s well worth taking in the environment around you and enjoying what the development team created. Each and every area you explore is highly detailed, and chalked full of things to see and find. Exploration is highly rewarded in Sekiro, so treading away from the beaten path to see what might be up on the cliff is generally a good idea, and almost always rewarding.
Thankfully, the entire experience is incredibly polished. With no obvious signs of frame rate lags or pop-in, it’s a unique example of a fully finished product hitting the consoles of players around the world. So often new games are at 80 or 90% when launched, but Sekiro appears to be hitting 99.9%. The dedication from the development team to make this one of this year’s best experiences has paid off, and although it is early, this title has Game of the Year written all over it.
This game is hard, and if you come in expecting anything less, you will either quit in frustration or be overly disappointed when you shouldn’t be. Is it immersive? Yes of course it is. Is it easy? Definitely not. You will enjoy Sekiro if you go in with the right mentality. Be sure of that.