Oh FromSoftware how I have missed you and the frustration which you wreak upon my controllers. At least I can level up my character, get some sweet armor and withstand some of the most brutal attacks from your worst enemies
…Oh you’ve taken that away from me now have you?!
Sekiro is the latest creation from the mind of Hidetaka Miyazaki and the rest of the gang over at FromSoftware, and just like Dark Souls and Bloodborne before it, the game comes with it’s own set of rules and challenges… My lord are there challenges. When I first started plowing through the game I was telling everyone: “Don’t worry about Sekiro, you shouldn’t have an issue with the game – It’s the easiest of all the games”; a statement which was very quickly turned around when I came across the “Chained Ogre”, one of the game’s first boss monsters; I had rushed through the game to this point a bit, and missed one of the key tools used for taking this little prick down, and try as I might he would always grab me and smash my face into the floor until I died – The statement quickly took a downwards spiral to my friends to become: “Fuck Sekiro, I hate it – It’s the worst” but there I was; trying again and again and again to take this little bitch down.
This is where the secret to anything that Miyazaki lies however, no matter how punishing the enemy or boss or just section of the finely tuned world turns out to be, there is something that compels you to go again and again because the satisfaction of surmounting the challenge is just oh so so sweet! Where Dark Souls took inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons-style worlds and Bloodborne borrowed heavily from Lovecraftian works – Sekiro places itself firmly in the world of the Samurai and Shinobi, much like Nioh before it but with Miyazaki’s extra touch.
This isn’t the only change however, the fundamentals of the combat is quite far removed from the works that came before it. Instead of focusing on withstanding attacks and coming back with your own between enemy breaks like Dark Souls, or playing more aggressively with the combat in Bloodborne, Sekiro focuses heavily on the parrying mechanics and usage of Shinobi tools, including the Shinobi prosthetic arm – For which you can find a huge variety of tools from throwing stars, to firecrackers right through to a fucking arm mounted flamethrower – That’s right. With this comes a completely different way of playing, Sekiro focusing on breaking your enemies posture (Stamina basically) in order to deal a the killing blow – This ensures you play Sekiro a lot more aggressively than Dark Souls before it.
Alongside the aggressive gameplay and all the Shinobi tools you could ever wish for, however, comes the one tool that every Shinobi must excel at… Stealth. Which feels super weird with a game from Miyazaki, but it also feels absolutely perfect in the context of the game – There is nothing more satisfying than sneaking around in the grass ramming my samurai sword into the necks of various enemies likening a lot of the game to become closer to a spiritual successor to Tenchu than it is Dark Souls really.
Therein lies the issue though – As much as I want to compare this game to the Soulsborne series, it does so much, so differently that the game stands on it’s own; of course there are some of Miyazaki’s little touches in it, but I have to just categorically state as I come towards the end of this review: Sekiro is not a Soulsborne game.
There’s even a story to Sekiro, albeit not an amazing story; there is actual, scripted, spoken words of dialogue that follow along a linear(ish) narrative of a beaten down hero trying to save a young prince. I have tried my hardest to keep as much of this game and it’s world as a surprise to you whilst being able to describe just how much I love it, and whilst a lot of this has come off as waffle, Sekiro, like Dark Souls and Bloodborne before it, is something that HAS to be played in order to grasp just how great a game it is.
From an incredibly detailed word, to absolutely tight as an accountant’s purse strings combat, Sekiro is a game that is as challenging as it is rewarding, and is easily one of the best games of the current generation.
BUY THIS GAME.
I give it a: