Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is just over a week away, and I couldn’t be any more excited.
Considering I used to hate Soulsborne games (that’d be the Dark Souls series and standalone title Bloodborne for you unsure), it was the latter that swayed me round to them. Having almost platinum’d Bloodborne, and revisited Dark Souls III, myself and many others are hyped on what this new title will bring.
Given that FromSoftware has been behind some of the Tenchu series as well, it’ll be interesting to see how the two genres combine. Soulsborne games known for their difficulty in combat, Tenchu for the sneaking about of ninjas, how will these two elements play off together…?
So, let’s have a look at some of the things to look forward to next week:
1. A Gorgeous New Aesthetic
Bloomin’ heck (because…leaves, etc) look how colourful this is!
Given that Dark Souls was vast but desolate, and Bloodborne carried the creepy Black Plague/Lovecraftian vibe in its look, it’s great to see a bit of colour in a FromSoftware game.
It still does look a bit bleak, given the story tones, but it does have a lovely and bright style to it.
2. An Actual Story Narrative
Now, hold thy horses. I’m not going to rag on Soulsborne stories. Once delved into, there’s some fabulous lore to dig through. But that’s it: you have to dig through collectable tomes and item descriptions to piece things together (or, like me, read wiki’s if you still can’t work it out).
Sekiro, however, has a story and laid out objective for you. As the titular hero, you are tasked with protecting a young lord. Attacked by a rival clan and having an arm lopped off, you’re revived and given a Swiss Army appendage to rescue your ward.
Now, I’m sure there’s going to be some more funky goings on, but I’m all geared up to find out.
3. Exploration From Upon High
As I said earlier, Dark Souls (and Bloodborne by extent) have vast landscapes, most of which you can explore. The only problem is the lack of verticality available to you.
But FromSoftware’s got you covered: given their lineage in Tenchu and the setting of Sekiro, you can jump and traverse rooftops and such, giving you a greater feeling of freedom and exploration.
It also blends in well with the combat…
4. A Hybrid Combat System
Okay, so I’m on point four and I’ve mentioned Soulsborne a lot. It’s going to happen, so I’m rolling with it. I mean, the interest you show is inherently going to be based on your love/hate for the others.
Anyway, this point is about the combat. It does lean on its peers in the tactical, look before leaping, counterattack/parry style, but that’s not all.
You can utilise rooftops and high ledges to get the [literal] drop on some enemies. Some enemies need a finishing move (or Deathblow) to kill them. Some have two Deathblow points on them, one to weaken and the other to decease them.
If you’re crafty enough, you can take off one of those with a sneak account from, either from stealthily following or upon high. It’s a nice change than just having to slog it out until one of you dies.
5. Customisable Style of Play
With its use of vertical exploration and stealth into the combat, it’s going to be interesting to see how people adapt to that.
Sekiro lets you take advantage of different styles of play with its skill trees and support weapons. Your main weapon is your katana, but your prosthetic arm can utilise an axe, a fan/shield and grappling hook, adding new elements to combat playstyles.
Skill trees and experience replace the souls/echoes of the past titles, opening up a customisable way to cater to your way of playing, as well as Combat Arts you can take advantage of in battle.
“Become the One Armed Wolf”
So, there’s a brief rundown of some of the things to look forward to when Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice comes out next week.
For those of you who want Sengoku-era Dark Souls may be in for a pleasant surprise. It’s not going to be exactly the same, nor is going to be a radical departure from what we’re used to. I’d imagine it’s still going to have that hard as nails, “git gud” and try again mechanic to it. But with a fleshed out story to get engrossed in, it looks set to be an exciting adventure.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is available from March 22nd on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.