TAG! Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice


Jesse Brown, Staff Writer

We talked about Sekiro in a previous TAG, talking about new releases this year, and in the dead of night on the 21st of March, Sekiro launched across the world. No doubt by this point you’ve seen plenty of videos of people dying over and over. Make no mistake Sekiro is brutal, and in my opinion, often unfair, but we’ll get to that.

First things first, the game is a break from the Dark Souls formula that is so tried and spot-on, and this is a good thing. Let’s be honest; it was getting a little stale. While you still can dodge in Sekiro, it is almost always the wrong option. Instead, the meat of combat is deflecting attacks. By deflecting attacks, and returning attacks, you build up your opponents’ posture bar. When it hits max, their posture breaks, and you can perform a death blow. While enemies do have health, the focus is on completing death blows, and some enemies will only go down if you execute multiple death blows on them.

The opponents HP is of crucial importance; however, the lower their hp, the slower their posture recovers. You really have to change your mind set up for Sekiro, you can’t get too focused on either bar, you have to really balance them. Some enemies recover posture very fast so you will need to weave your way through their attacks and chip down their HP so that when you do deal posture damage, it won’t recover quickly.

Other enemies come at you in a flurry of attacks, and if you even think about doing anything other than deflecting, say goodbye. Enemies also have deadly attacks, denoted by a symbol that appears above their head. These attacks will be thrusts, sweeps, and grabs. You need to pay extremely close attention and respond appropriately to these attacks. Mikiro counters or deflect thrusts, jump over sweeps and dodge grabs. Anything else, or even if you are a split second late, you’re dead.

This is Sekiro’s most influential and weakest point in my opinion. You have to be at the top of your game, anything else and it’s game over, which can get very frustrating. But the discovery of what attacks Sekiro has that can counter enemies’ attacks is impressive.

The nightjar slash, one of the first special attacks you get, can jump over sweeps, and when I did this on accident and realized it, I was ecstatic. Then I died a moment later and was angry, but that’s beside the point. Sekiro certainly gives you the tools to deal with the game, but demands you use them correctly.

Even the smallest enemies, for example, I ran into some small monkeys, deal an insane amount of damage. The only way to get more health is to collect prayer beads, the majority of which you get only by defeating minibosses. These minibosses are often surrounded by smaller enemies or have a way to run back to if you die and need to retry.

The combat is the meat of the game, but the surrounding structure is excellent. The revive mechanic is pretty good, and death isn’t very punishing. The visuals are unbelievable, the level design is pretty good (Save for the minibosses covered in smaller enemies), and everything else you would expect from a Fromsoft game is there.

All in all, Sekiro is a fantastic game, but really frustrating, and a little unfair at times.