Japanese developer FromSoftware has a new game out entitled Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and it may just be their most brilliant and challenging game yet.

You play as Wolf, a shinobi whose only purpose is to protect the master he serves, a young boy named Kuro who is known as the Divine Heir. He has an incredible gift, which if exploited, can affect all of Japan. Wolf loses his master and his arm and awakens to find a Shinobi Prosthetic arm now fitted to him. He then sets off to find Kuro at any cost. The story is entertaining, starting off a historic retelling but soon starts to wander into more supernatural territory.

The gameplay will immediately feel familiar to Souls players, but unfortunately it’s the very basic part of it. Sekiro encourages you to be more aggressive in combat as opposed to the guerrilla-like attack style from the Souls games. This is reinforced by the fact that the game has no stamina bar so it’s a little more freeing. In exchange however, the game features a system where enemies who take hits, both successful and blocked, sustain posture damage. Once the posture bar has filled, they are left susceptible to a deathblow, an immensely satisfying animation that is able to kill a normal enemy and remove an entire health bar from a boss. The trade-off is that this can happen to Wolf as well, rendering him wide open to attack. 

Deflecting is the best way to combat this as it does more posture damage to your attacker. The new combat system has a steep learning curve but is honestly one of my favourites. It teaches and encourages you to be better and as you progress through the game fighting increasingly challenging enemies, it’s exactly what happens. It’s such a rewarding feeling.

The Shinobi Prosthetic arm is pretty cool too, allowing you to install a number of different tools to utilise in addition to the grappling hook already available when you first obtain the arm. It also helps with accessing new higher areas, which is perfect for stalking enemies before you pull off a stealth kill.

Exploring what the world has to offer is fantastic since there a number of different areas with their own sets of enemies and secrets. It also doesn’t hurt that the game runs pretty smoothly even in busier areas. The sparks that fly as you or your enemy deflect attacks is a feast for the eyes and the clanging of weapons, even more so. The sound effect is so realistic that you’d swear you’re there when the fight takes place.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is amazing. I quite liked the new approach to storytelling as I was able to really invest in the Wolf and his mission. The new gameplay mechanics that make each fight feel like a deadly dance between you and your opponent are great and truly teaches you to be better at grasping the exactly how the combat works. Sekiro is a brutally challenging and absolutely thrilling experience.

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