Why Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Is Not The Souls Game You Think It Is
In Sekiro, you’re tasked with using some unorthodox gadgets, a sharp blade, and a ninja’s cunning and agility to overcome foes that can drop you in only a few strikes. Just prior to Gamescom, we dove into a brief section of Sekiro, which showcased the unique combat and stealth encounters, and got an idea of how it recontextualizes the Souls-formula into a stealth-action experience.
Set in a heavily fictionalized take on Sengoku-era Japan in 1500, you play as a shinobi who faces a brutal defeat at the hands of a rival samurai, losing their left arm in the process. Defying death, the warrior is given a new arm by a mysterious monk who names him the “One-Armed Wolf”. From here, the main character begins his quest for revenge against the samurai and his clan that roam the lands. But during his adventure, he’ll encounter other dangerous beasts and larger than life monsters, slowly revealing a much greater threat that will push his shinobi training to its limits.
Unlike From Software’s past titles, Sekiro focuses on the story of a defined character, and with stripped down RPG mechanics–there’s a greater emphasis on the more action-oriented gameplay and smart use of the tools you have on hand. As more of a spiritual successor to From Software’s previous games–which were also directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki–many of the familiar touchstones from the Souls games remain intact–but with many notable differences.
At its heart, Sekiro is a stealth-action game, and many encounters involve getting the jump up on unsuspecting enemies for quick and efficient kill, or by avoiding packs of foes altogether. With the One-Armed Wolf’s grappling hook, there’s a stronger focus on verticality and movement throughout the levels, where gaining the high-ground above your opponents can mean all the difference in your chances for survival. Though you’re certainly free to engage them head-on, most areas are heavily guarded, and you can easily find yourself outmatched by ranged foes and close-range fighters. The enemies in Sekiro are incredibly aggressive, and they prefer to fight in numbers.