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The Souls titles, along with the Bloodborne series, are some of the most amazing action-adventure games of this century so far. With fully-developed battle systems and a realistic approach, these Activision titles have classics in those who love challenging combat.
The point of these games was to test the players savvy and skills, and not just to be a crash course that can be passed in a matter of hours. Countless hours have been invested into the Dark Souls franchise, but it looks like we have a worthy heir.
On March 22, Activision and FromSoftware finally released the highly anticipated action-adventure title – SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE. The online gaming community imploded, as none saw it being this good.
In this SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE review, we will follow a 16th-century shinobi Sekiro as he plots to defeat the forces of evil and restore the balance in the Sengoku period of Japanese history. Let’s take a look at how this game might have revolutionized the action-adventure genre forever.
Continuing the tradition
FromSoftware and Activision have always been a match made in heaven. The iconic publisher-developer duo has changed gaming forever with Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls in the early-to-mid 2010s. Before the Souls and Bloodborne series, people used to play games just to complete them. What you might consider normal, in terms of game difficulty, was started by these legendary Activision titles.
After several successful and popular games, Activision decided to stick to the gameplan. The latest example of this approach to fighting games is the long-awaited SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE.
The moment we turned it on, the resemblance to the Souls series was uncanny. Even though the SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE release date was announced way back at E3 2018, the hype never died down. For years, Samurai and ninja games have been so missing from gaming. It’s a historical aspect that not many developers are interested in.
Fans always show love for historical correctness, but 16th century Japan is a very difficult period to replicate. However, Activision and FromSoftware came up with a brilliant idea.
Instead of trying to be 100% politically correct, the design team took just historical imagery and rendered it as impeccably graphics. To avoid any mistakes and criticism, they’ve masterfully inserted only fictional people that are loosely based on the Sengoku period. This was an excellent move that is one of the biggest reasons to play this game.
Being respectful to Japanese culture is a touching gesture by Activision, however – this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this game. There is so much more!
Key features of SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE
Shadows Die Twice captivated the attention of both critics and fans alike, due to its array of amazing features. Even in the SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE trailer, we saw that the fighting system was going to be improved, but still based on the Activision foundations. Here are some of the most amazing features that will keep you playing for hours.
● Sekiro Shinobi Prosthetics. After Sekiro becomes a proto-cyborg after his hand gets cut off while he was protecting his lord, the emphasis is on prosthetics-based weaponry.
In a steampunk-like style, you can use your robotic arm to kill enemies, defend yourself against multiple attackers at once or bring confusion to the battle. Some of them depend on training, while others are lucky finds or drops during the campaign.
● A zombie twist. There aren’t nearly enough samurai and ninja games today, but there are even less samurai zombie games. Thanks to the Sekiro Dragon rot, a mysterious disease, citizens of Japan are turning into lifeless husks.
Perhaps the most unexpected feature here is the twist between the macabre and the historical. It’s not something you see every day.
● No multiplayer. Not every game needs PVP, you know. We’ve been so focused on making gaming competitive and interactive that we forgot all about the quality of stories.
SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE is an excellent example. You don’t have the pressure of scoreboards and matches – it’s just you experiencing Japanese culture and immersive combat instances.
● Gain advantages by presenting offerings. Along the game, you will encounter Prayer Beads all over the place. By combining several colors or copies of the same color, you can make offerings that will bring you buffs. An increase in agility, health and individual skills is achievable for a limited amount of time. Before a boss fight or a dangerous encounter, you might want to go to a Sculptor’s Idol and gain better stats.
● Healing with gourd seeds. One of the most compelling aspects of the game is the presence of the Gourd Seeds. Remember, like in Dark Souls, the combat format takes a toll on your entire character and health pool.
You need to collect gourd seeds so that you can use the power of the medicinal water to withstand fights. One of the reasons you should play this game is that it requires tactical analysis, not just mere fighting and memorizing moves.
● Innovative combat format. What truly makes SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE gameplay a one of a kind appearances in gaming is the combat system. You don’t just hit an opponent until his health pool reaches zero.
Instead, you have to jeopardize every enemy’s balance and posture until you can find the room to land a finishing blow with your katana. This combat model is much more akin to real life and sword fighting as a sport.
● Stealth. The game will have you fighting a lot of formidable opponents. Most of them will be so much more adept than you, that you will have to use an array of stealth moves to defeat them before they find you and kill you. One of the things critics loved, and you will too, is the large number of combos. You also have to very spatially aware so that you can know when and how to approach mobs.
● Better revival options. Unlike Dark Souls and many other games, SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE features a new respawn system.
You have to fulfill a set of conditions to begin exactly from where you were before you died. It’s yet another feature that stimulates planning and strategic thinking in this amazing game.
The Design of SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE
One thing that blew our minds in particular was the design of the game, but Ashina Castle in particular. We got serious flashbacks from Dark Souls’ Anor Londo or the legendary Yharnam from Bloodborne.
The feeling of grandeur and amazement was still there like it never left. Activision and FromSoftware are known for their attention to detail. The design of this game should be the number one reason to play this game, but all the great features make it a tough call.
More than just aesthetic value, the space in the game gives you the opportunity to perform all kinds of tricks and jumps. Hooks, torches and other objects can help you pull off some acrobatics. Even if you’re not interested solely in fighting enemies, there is a lot you can do and a lot of things that can improve Sekiro and his skillset.
Somehow, the contrasting from Dark Souls III has gotten even better. It’s so clear, even when the scene or fight are taking place in darkness. It’s not like there is any artificial illumination, but it’s just that the amazing contrast rate, you can see everything and everyone.
For someone who hasn’t had experience with Souls or Bloodborne, you might find the amount of detail overwhelming. And this is why gameplay is so astonishing. With so many details can easily grab your attention while enemies strike at you. Is there more to it? Certainly.
Gameplay is amazing as ever in SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE
The one problem everyone had with Soulsborne characters was that they weren’t very mobile. Combat, no matter how advanced for the time, was mostly centered around strikes.
Since you have the luck of playing with a shinobi, you get to use one of his many parkour-like abilities. Sekiro is oriented towards the vertical plane and when everyone saw some of the previews in the trailer, they collectively concluded – “This game is gonna be amazing.”
Perhaps the best way to describe SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE is to remember Nioh. Nioh is a great game, but SEKIRO is a more modern twist on some of the interesting models that were introduced. SEKIRO is making Nioh a more fun experience with features that aren’t particularly revolutionary, but their developments is. The integration of responsive combat and easy commands is making SEKIRO a true preview of how gaming is going to be in the future.
Albeit resembling Nioh, SEKIRO is not a carbon copy. More than anything, it’s more of a Soulsborne game than any of the concepts Nioh developed. If we were to be picky about the concept, you could say that the game is more Bloodborne than Souls. The combat, however, is more resemblant to some of the solutions in Dark Souls.
It’s important to know that Nioh is also based in 1500s Sengoku province, but the historical background is much looser in SEKIRO. We don’t get any references to any historical personalities or events. This just makes the world a lot more immersive than any other fantasy or history games can provide you with.
An old-school, proven format
There are zombie mobs throughout the game, and it’s a joy to see their excellent design and the approach the developers took.
Even though this mob-fight system is efficient in keeping you on your toes via different enemies, there is still that excitement from the Souls franchise. You get to fight seven different bosses during different times in the storyline. There is a mysterious hag who knows how to wield magic, in addition to a Corrupted Monk and a Serpent.
It’s not every day that you see a system so well-developed, with free inputs from other game’s storylines and styles. That anticipation that you feel before a boss encounter is precisely one of the reasons why you should play this game. It’s not that the story was designed around the bosses in particular – it’s that they perfectly fit in the pre-made storyline.
There are no narrational inconsistencies or anything else that might disturb an ideal gaming experience. The gameplay, design and realistic combat make this game a modern dream of every old-school gamer. It’s everything we wanted, so it’s no surprise that SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE has overtaken Fortnite for 3rd place on Twitch’s popularity rankings.
Is SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE Hard?
Something that many of us don’t realize is that it’s wrong to rank difficulty when comparing one game to others. Logically, everyone had Souls and Bloodborne in mind, so it’s at least worth making a basic comparison. According to our estimates and timing, it’s a little bit harder than Bloodborne in the first third of the game. If you have a Souls background, you will find it easier, but still have to get used to the different combat mechanics.
The bottom line is – if you download the game and play it with a Soulsborne mindset, you will fail miserably. Get rid of all expectations and enjoy the game. There is no harm in learning a new system and becoming more and more skilled with it.
Who knows, if the 91% acclaim from all gaming magazines persists, we might be looking at a new game format. For now, we can just relax and play when we really have the time to. With future classics like SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE, you don’t need to hurry.
To sum up our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice review
Have you played the game yet? If not, we hope our SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE review helped you gain a bigger picture and a reason to play the game.
Let us know about your impression through the comments. We want to hear your verdicts.
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