My first impression of this game was not good. After 30 hours of gameplay do I still feel the same way? Read on to find out what I think of Sekiro Shadows Die Twice!
I haven’t played a game this connected since the original Dark Souls. This proves that From Software still has it when it comes to design worlds that interconnect with each other. I really enjoyed exploring this beautiful world that was handcrafted for us to get lost and die in. I had some really awesome, oh shit, moments in this game when I would end up walking down a path and ending up back in a completely different area. It’s masterful and From Software has always created some of the best worlds in gaming to me. It’s no different here.
Sekiro has an amazing soundtrack and voice acting in both Japanese and English. I played through the game in English for the first time around and again in Japanese. You can’t go wrong playing on either language setting. You’re in for a good time regardless of what you prefer. I prefer English because that’s my primary language and I prefer gaming without subtitles distracting me while I play a game like this. I really like the soundtrack as well as all of the ambient sounds that play in the background. They’re subtle, but they add so much immersion to the game. I love how intense some tracks are and how gentle others are. This is definitely one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard all year long and it’s already made its way to my Spotify playlist.
Sekiro plays really well, but I do have some issues with it that prevented me from placing it in the great section. I don’t like the stealth at all. It’s honestly a joke and since it’s a part of the game I have to rate it. I only snuck around when it was absolutely necessary (giant snake) and I dreaded every moment of it. Jumping is also stiff. Simple things like jumping up on a ledge or just jumping out of the water are overly difficult for no reason other than it was designed poorly. Thankfully, the combat more then makes up for the shitty stealth mechanics. This game is what I like to call parry souls. Yes, I know you can do more than parry to win fights, but parrying is the best way to win fights and once you have it down it’s the quickest way to win them too. Once I learned how to cheese fights by making enemies block I destroyed them with by striking with my axe twice and performing a deathblow right after. This worked on just about every boss in the game including the laughably easy final boss. It was like fighting Gwen all over again… just this dude moves a lot faster. This game starts off pretty tame with the number of things that you can do, but eventually, you’ll learn how to dive, perform fancy looking combos that are mostly useless outside of a few of them, get new tools for your new manufactured arm, and become a walking death machine. I was so strong by the time I reached the final area of the game nothing could stand a chance against me. The grappling hook is really awesome and it would have been nice if From Software would have let us go crazy with it, but it’s just a gimmick and can only be used when they WANT you to use it. If there’s ever a sequel I would love for us to be able to just swing around on everything.
This game struck the perfect balance of difficulty. Despite popular belief, none of the Dark Souls, or Bloodborne, games are hard and neither is this one. They just have learning curves and will test your patience and skill as a gamer. I breezed through every boss in this game. I’m not bragging or anything like that. I’m being honest. I only died from two bosses. The Corrupted Monk and that gimmicky dragon boss near the end of the game. I died from that boss 3 times (not including the revive mechanic) because I would mistime my dodges and I honestly hated that fight because of the gimmick. This wouldn’t be a From Software game without some annoying bosses though. I think Miyazaki likes to troll us with bosses like the Folding Screen Monkeys. I wish I could place this category higher than what it is, but honestly, I didn’t enjoy the majority of the boss fights in this game. My favorite bosses are the nonhumanoid ones with the exception of the final boss and Corrupted Monk. Those two are awesome. Everyone else just kind of blends together in a big aura of forgetfulness to me. The big monkey (forgot his name) was my favorite fight and I almost pissed myself when he got back up (with no head!) and started wailing at me again.
Sekiro is a really good looking game. When I’m standing on someone’s half destroyed rooftop looking out at the snowy mountains in the distance it’s breathtaking, but compared to some of the other games that’s released this year it’s nothing special. That’s not a jab against this game by any means because I do think it looks absolutely beautiful, especially in moments like the one I just described, but I’ve described moments like that in every game I’ve played this year. One thing this game does really well is in the lighting and particle effects. The cutscenes are a thing of beauty too. This game, like Dark Souls and Bloodborne before it, is animated beautifully. Actually, this game is animated better than both Dark Souls and Bloodborne so there’s that. The big thing and reason why this is in the good section and not the great one is the PC Port. I can’t keep giving From Software a free pass on shitty ports. You don’t even see PC button prompts when you play with mouse and keyboard. You see the Xbox controller prompts and this is unacceptable. Yes, this game can be played on PC, but how hard is it to show PC prompts in your game? Even Capcom, another developer that’s had its fair share of shoddy ports, has PC button prompts in their games. This game did run like a dream 90% of the time so From Software should be commended for that, but if everyone just ignores that the PC platform is pretty much ignored by this developer when it comes to quality of life improvements then nothing will change. The sad part is that the PC platform is one of this developers most profitable ones. It should get better treatment than this.
From Software’s way of telling stories is fantastic. They just didn’t do a good job of telling one in this game. Like Bloodborne and Dark Souls, Sekiro has multiple endings that encourage multiple playthroughs. The thing is that I never once cared or was even remotely interested in anything that was happening in this world. Dark Souls story was so carefully crafted and told in such a mysterious way that I couldn’t help, but be invested in what was happening in the world around me. In Sekiro I’m just playing as some random dude that’s trying to complete a task from his stupid master because his master believes that his blood is tainted and that he must sever his ties from immortality. Add in a half-assed main villain and you’ve got Sekiro Shadows Die Twice.
Sekiro is going to be the only game, so far, that From Software has released that I have no interest in playing after I complete it. I mean… I did beat this game twice, but that’s not really saying much since I have 300+ hours in Dark Souls 3. I just don’t see myself getting that kind of time out of this game because it’s just not as interesting as From Software’s biggest series. I will say that a Sekiro sequel has the potential to be the game that all of the big time reviewers made this one sound like.
Sekiro Shadows Die Twice isn't what it was advertised to be and that's okay. I still enjoyed my time with the game I don't regret the money I put into it. Sekiro is a good game that has some neat concepts, subpar boss fights, and amazingly detailed world, but I do think this is From Software's weakest game to date and I doubt I'll ever revisit this game for another run like I did all of their previous titles.