SEKIRO: Shadows Die Twice is the next game from From Software, who bought you the Souls series as well as the inimitable Bloodborne.
It’s fast, it’s brutally difficult to master, and it’s coming out very soon. But what else do you need to know?
Fighting is often sword-to-sword, and requires quick thinking and quick reflexes[/caption]
Is it like Dark Souls?
Yes and no. You’re still going to die over and over again, but it’s a different sort of experience.
You need to be much more aggressive in combat, and you’ve got a much wider range of motion.
Sekiro can leap and has a grappling hook to traverse the world and move around in combat.
You also need to attack your opponent to open up their defenses and eventually deal damage.
In almost all the boss fights you’ll find yourself at a very significant disadvantage[/caption]
The setting is as beautifully realised as any we’ve seen[/caption]
The enemies are more human this time around too, though not entirely.
The game is set in a mythologised version of 16th century Japan, and you’ll find yourself fighting enemies that are — or were — samurai, monks and the like.
There are also beasts — we came out the worse for fear in one surprising fight with a chicken — as well as some obviously supernatural entities. but much of the fighting is katana-to-katana.
One obvious addition is your prosthetic arm, and the Sculptor who created it for you. This can be upgraded and offer you all sorts of options in combat as we revealed last summer.
None of the options we’ve seen, from flamethrowers to shurikens, offer a one-size-fits-all boost that lets you roll through enemies — think of them more as a set of keys to particular locks that are useful in certain very specific situations.
When is it coming out?
Very soon! It is due for release on March 22.
We’ve played a very-near-final version of the game, and it definitely looks ready for primetime.
Is it punishingly difficult?
It’s not as uncompromising as the From’s best-known games in the Souls series.
The increased mobility is necessary to deal with some new and nastier attacks — unblockable sweeps you need to jump over, for instance — but also makes life generally a little more pleasant.
This time the combat systems are explained to you in more than random scrawlings too, so newcomers should be able to get a grip on the basics pretty quickly.
That having been said, it is still every bit has difficult from the get-go.
Bosses can generally kill you — or near as makes no difference — if you put one foot wrong at the wrong moment, but constantly defending doesn’t work either.
The world of Sekiro is full of secrets just waiting for you to discover — and uncover[/caption]
Unravelling the mysteries of the magical forces that run through this version of 16th-century Japan is something we’re very much looking forward to[/caption]
In combat you need to find just the write balance of blocking, parrying and attacking to break your opponent’s posture for a chance to land a killing blow.
Parry blows at just the right moment and you can execute a counterstrike too, leading to a swift and viscerally satisfying execution of your foe.
It’s a combat system that rewards careful planning and beat-perfect timing, but it never really feels unfair.
Dying is your fault, and a chance to move on and come back better, rarely feeling unfair.
One major trick in your arsenal is the ability to resurrect yourself. This can only be used intermittently, but effectively means you have an extra shot at those particularly difficult bosses, giving you a chance to finish them off if they happen to take you out when you’ve got them on the verge of death themselves.
Some of the landscapes really will take your breath away[/caption]
Should you be excited for it?
Yes, you should.
Everything we’ve seen so far for the game, including several missions from a near-final build suggest it’s going to be an epic.
It looks gorgeous, with obvious visual nods to Kurosawa as well as landscapes reminiscent of Sesshu Toyo.
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Combined some forest and mountaintop settings with that ability to grapple to trees and the tops of buildings, and you’ll find yourself just pausing to take in the views.
It’s got all the story and deep lore you would expect from a From game, except this time with a protagonist who talks (in subtitled Japanese).
We haven’t seen enough to comment on the actual story itself, but it seems set up well and to be going to interesting places in a promising way.
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, rated 18+, £49.99 from GAME – preorder now