During the Media Preview in Thailand, we were able to play Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice demo (extended version). Here is our hands-on review of the game. There’s only one word to describe the game, HARD! Is like playing a turned down a notch Dark Souls, it’s just easier to play by a BIT. When entering the game, we were greeted by a stunning visual of Old Japan. Fromsoftware did an amazing job at producing a fantastical vision of 1500’s Goku era in Japan. With gorgeous and vibrant sceneries, you will have your mouth open throughout the game.
We start off playing as the protagonist who is a Shinobi (Ninja) that has a prosthetic arm and wields a Katana. Exploring the game was a delight because we get to do Ninja stuffs like parkour and stealthy approaches.
The Combat in Sekiro is incredible. We get to fight with a Katana and the prosthetic arm. Yes, the fake arm. Players will be able to unlock different types of prosthetic arm through upgrades that can be found in the game. In this demo, we were able to experience 4 different types of the prosthetic arm.
There is the:
Loaded Shuriken: Your prosthetic arm shoots out Shuriken at the enemies in a distance, it can also be used as a distraction to close the distance between you and the enemies.
The Flame Vent: Allow players to set Katana ablaze ( kind of a buff ) and shoots out flame in a short distance as well.
The Loaded Axe: An axe equip to your prosthetic arm which deals heavy damage to enemies, able to strike down enemy’s shield.
The Grappling Hook: Enable players to swing around making it easier to travel. Players can also grapple their way towards an enemy and perform a stealth attack. Something noteworthy is that during the demo, we found out that the character doesn’t crouch automatically after grappling hook. So, it might ruin your stealth game.
All the modes above can be follow up with combo arts. Like Dark Souls, players can perform stealth attack in Sekiro. We found out that stealth attacks in this game are really important. It allows player to instantly kill lesser enemies in one go or it can take away 1 health bar from bosses. So, it all depends on the player whether they like stealth or going all out through the game. However, there are times when stealth approaches don’t work and you will have to fight an all-out battle.
Posture & Executions
Besides that, Sekiro introduces Posture Bar and doesn’t have a stamina bar. Most enemies in the game will have a Posture and when the bar is filled, it will break your posture. Leaving you vulnerable to fatal attacks. It is the same with the enemy, when their posture is broken. Players will be able to perform “executions” on them, killing them in one hit or deal huge amount of damage depending the on the type of enemies. Talking about executions, we also find out that the character will go into an invincible state when executing enemies. This is a real good thing to us players, we can exploit it to our hearts content. Back to Posture, we notice that our posture increases significantly faster compared to the enemies. This makes the game even more challenging to us, that is why planning an attack in Sekiro is pretty important.
Deflects & Mikiri
In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, players can play aggressively using Deflect to block off attack or they can be defensive by Dodging. But then, there are some enemies that Deflects don’t work on. Like the Mini Boss we fought in the demo, the Chained Ogre. Next, the game will warn players when an unblockable attack is incoming. A “危” (Danger) will appear on top of character’s head and you can either go head-on the attack or dodge away. Now, I would like to tell players that running away from attacks is a good thing but it’s different in this game. Players will be rewarded if they play aggressively and that is called “Mikiri”, you can dodge an attack by jumping into one. Do take note that too aggressive can also be a bad thing.
Mini Bosses & Sculptor Idols
Within the battlefield, you will encounter different types of enemies and there are even Mini Bosses planted in the field. While playing, we find it hard when we were faced with one because a Mini Boss has 2 health bars. Players will have to take it down two times to kill it once and for all. In this situation, you are given a choice to confront it or advance the story by going around it. We would like to point out that killing Mini Bosses will drop precious loots and will not respawn after you rest. Speaking of rest, players get to rest by the Sculptor Idols which is similar to the Bonfire System in Dark Souls. It acts as a resting point and a checkpoint for players to save their progress before they continue their journey.
Resurrection & Items
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a game where dying is a strategy. Players are given two chances to rejoin their fights to turn the tides around. Nevertheless, it should be used wisely because players only get half their HP back when they resurrect from the dead. Well, it is a good thing to have resurrection but it is not something that players can do all the time. To obtain the ability to resurrect, players will have to attack or kill enemies which is also one way the game is telling you to be aggressive. Moving on to items, items in the game can be gone permanently when used or died except for the Healing Gourd.
A game got to have skills right? No worries because Sekiro has that covered. Aside from the prosthetic arm and normal attacks, players can cast skills and ninjutsu. Unfortunately, we were only able to cast an L1 and R1 combo skill in the demo. There are even more that we never get to try out but we can try it out when the game comes out.
Thoughts On The Game
What do we think about Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice? I said it before and I’m going to say it again. It is so GOD DAMN HARD but slightly easier compared to Dark Souls. Aside from that, what I got to say is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has a very smooth gameplay. From the mechanics and to the combat, everything works smoothly. Then there is also the “Mikiri” which is pretty fresh to me. Last but not least, the depiction of the fantastical world is absolutely stunning in every way!