Sekiro: shadows die twice review


I jump from my perch on a roof, diving down to lớn my target. In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, I am a bird of prey, & my sword is my talon.

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I lvà on an enemy grunt, piercing him with my sword and rolling out of my attack in a seamless & deadly ballet. He never had a chance.

I turn lớn confront his terrified friend. I swing, but he blocks my attachồng with his rifle. His strength fails him after my second attaông xã. He stands exhausted và defenseless. My next move is a one-hit-kill Deathblow. His nechồng sprays blood lượt thích a pierced garden hose as he falls khổng lồ his knees. I feel lượt thích a shinobi god as I collect my loot và move sầu on.

Past a large door, there’s another enemy. My adrenaline surges as I see the next few seconds of my life with absolute clarity. I sneak up behind hyên, run hyên through, và he’s gone. I am a shinobi god.

In the distance, maybe đôi mươi yards away, two more enemies chat near a small wooden building. They can’t see me. This is going lớn be easy. I crouch and approach.

A bull the size of a school bus shreds the structure inkhổng lồ a hundred shards before I can reach them. He roars and stomps và headbutts everything around hyên ổn in rage. Fences and enemies fall. The music surges. He turns lớn me và, as he charges, I notice the flaming tubes of hay where his horns should be. I panic and turn away, running toward what I hope will be safety.

I’m dead within 10 seconds.

This is the joy và agony of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, developer FromSoftware’s new game. It’s a company known for making notoriously difficult games like the Dark Souls series và Bloodborne, and Sekiro shares that lineage. It’s full of masochistic challenges, but it’s also definitely not a Soulsborne game. It’s something new, something intriguing — và a brutal và definitive sầu statement refuting the idea that FromSoftware is a one-triông chồng pony.

<Ed. note: This đánh giá is based on our first 50-plus hours of Sekiro (và twice as much between us). We suspect that there may be as much ahead of us as there is in our wake. We’ll continue playing, & will update this review as we complete the game.>

* Recommends is our way of endorsing our favorite games. When we award a game the Recommends badge, it’s because we believe sầu the title is uniquely thought-provoking, entertaining, inventive or fun — và worth fitting into your schedule. If you want lớn see the very best of the best for your platform(s) of choice, check out Essentials.

I play as Wolf, a shinobi bodyguard khổng lồ a royal child. I’m skilled và capable. I have a past and a place in the world.

This is a departure from what I expected based on FromSoftware’s last decade of development — games in which the stories & characters were often obscure và required deep dives into the lore to lớn understvà. The story in Sekiro is grounded in relatable details, và I know from the start how I’m connected to it: I’m trying to right a wrong from years ago và fulfill my vow as a bodyguard. The clear focus of the narrative sầu gives me something — and someone — lớn care about.

There are also bad guys, monsters, và characters who all tell you, through their actions and words, what and why they are. Sekiro is immensely more narratively accessible than its Soulsborne predecessors. It’s a welcome change.

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That’s not to say that Sekiro is easy or forgiving. There are bosses, và some other enemies, that kill me with one hit, even dozens of hours inlớn the game. But there’s also a character named Hanbei the Undying who helps me hone my offensive and defensive skills. I return lớn him whenever I become stuchồng or confused, and I become a better fighter through his teaching. I usually know what khổng lồ vì chưng next, although I can sometimes become confused và frustrated about how khổng lồ get there.

There is no map or compass. There are no waypoints or markers. I get general directions, but I’m left to lớn figure out how khổng lồ navigate Sekiro’s branching paths và locations on my own. Sekiro lets me make mistakes, & I make a lot of mistakes. I rush blindly into an area I should move sầu through slowly & stealthily. I wander into boss fights well before I’m prepared to lớn handle them. I learn.

Sekiro rewards considered play. It’s not just that there’s no defined path through most areas — it’s that there are many paths, & I feel a calling to lớn explore them all. I can run down a main street, where I’ll get stabbed by half a dozen guards, or I can head lớn the left, where I’ll encounter a guard dog that will alert the guards khổng lồ my presence ... & then I’ll get bitten and stabbed.

Or, I discover, I can use my grappling hook & take lớn the rooftops, where I can pick off the guards one by one until my path is clear. In the next area, when I try khổng lồ repeat my rooftop trick, I meet a new type of enemy who shrugs off my attacks & stabs me khổng lồ death. Sekiro forces me lớn find yet another way forward.

Combat is a complicated but understandable mixture of defense, dodging, và careful but relentless attacking. It’s not rhythm-based, but it punishes button mashing. Heavy defense might get me through one fight, then cost me my life in the next. Attacking aggressively lets me cut through one enemy, although the next is able to catch me off balance và destroy me. Finding the appropriate combination of thoughtfulness and brutality for each enemy and situation is essential to lớn move ahead.

chơi Game isn’t as dire as the “Prepare to Die” promised on the first Dark Souls’ box, but that rhythm of struggling, dying, learning, and repeating is a huge part of Sekiro. It’s built into the game’s systems: I have sầu the option of resurrection when I fall in battle. And it’s so satisfying to lớn get trounced by someone, wait for them to turn around, & then spring baông chồng to life khổng lồ stab them from behind.

The resurrection option is limited, both mechanically — I have to lớn wait a mix amount of time between uses — & through the story. A disease spreads across the world as I continually die and resurrect myself. The characters I talk to lớn — the reformed thief turned vendor, the doctor, the grieving pilgrim — begin coughing và wheezing. And they’ll keep getting worse, unless I fix it.

Suddenly, my get-out-of-jail-không tính tiền card has consequences, và I find myself questioning my use of it. Is my journey worth hurting someone else to lớn continue, or should I accept defeat và try again with a better & more considered approach? I could save sầu more people if I just died, but then I’d thua thảm half of my loot & experience points.

FromSoftware/Activision via
Each death is an excuse for contemplation, and I often have to take a step bachồng to lớn find the xúc tích and progress that stem from my failures. They’re almost always my fault, which is how FromSoftware gets away with making absurdly punishing games. My lachồng of progress is a puzzle. Almost every time I fail or get stuông chồng, I conclude that I have sầu everything I need to solve it. I just have sầu khổng lồ think about what I’m doing or get better at executing my plans. And also I need lớn calm down, because all of this screaming is scaring the dog.

Rarely do my insights or incremental improvements give sầu me anything close to lớn an easy win, but Sekiro isn’t difficult for difficult’s sake. It gives me hints, but no roadmap. It implies. It finds ways to reward me when I read between the lines. It hands me my ass when I try something a little too clever or panicked or cheap, but it gives me victories when I act with care and react with considered split-second decisions. This is the skill that Sekiro challenges me lớn accumulate, và it never lets me forget that.

Even though it can take hours of controller-throwing frustration to defeat seemingly insurmountable odds, perseverance begets pleasure. I won that battle because it could be done. I solved the puzzle. I am a shinobi god.

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I have sầu khổng lồ put in a lot of work và effort lớn meet Sekiro on its own terms, but what might feel ponderous in a lesser game becomes rewarding in one created with this much care. Sekiro meets me with just as much effort và enthusiasm as I’ve put into it. It lets me know I’m capable and skilled, and that I can figure it out.

And then it hands me my ass again.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be released March 22 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, & Xbox One. The game was reviewed using final “retail” PS4 tải về codes provided by Activision. You can find additional information about’s ethics policy here.

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