SEKIRO – SHADOWS DIE TWICE [Review]: The Blade Never Dulls.

Robert “The DCD” Workman

FromSoftware’s reputation precedes it. The company is well known for producing some of the toughest games on the planet, but rewardingly so. It demands players work for their efforts, instead of simply handling down an easily beatable experience. That said, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice could easily be the toughest yet, mainly because of its hardcore appeal — not to mention its epic battles…

The game puts you in the shoes of a warrior attempting to protect a young ward from evil forces. But that turns out to be more complicated than expected, thanks to the human–and often inhuman–forces rising up against you. That forces Sekiro to act accordingly and carve into foes, but also work defensively to deflect and dodge their attacks. This game is one tough cookie– especially when you get to a rather large ape that’s a lot more than it seems.

While Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is tough (we’ve seen folks swear it off before they even managed to get close to the finish line), it’s on the same level as other FromSoftware titles. Those that push forward will be promptly, and stylishly, rewarded, and each battle gets crazier than the last. In fact, by the time you reach the conclusion — which will take a while, by the way — you’ll be in awe at how it all goes down.

I told you to not steal my mail.

The gameplay is sharp. That’s not a pun, but rather affection for FromSoftware’s development prowess. Sekiro feels terrific when it comes to responsiveness. Sure, you have to work defensively more than usual, but it’s a system that you can adapt to within a few battles. Just don’t expect to win everything. In fact, there are some spots where dying actually plays an advantage; you’ll see once you jump in.

Sekiro is also atmospherically From Software’s best effort, and that’s saying something. The game’s design is elegant and stylish, and really captures the classic shinobi nature. It’s almost as if they actually did their homework. Oh, wait, they did. On top of that, the animations are razor sharp, the environmental detail is stunning, and the loading time isn’t that bothersome at all. The game as a whole just looks terrific…

The road to death is a beautiful one.

The audio is excellent too, whether you choose Japanese dialogue with English subtitles, or the not-so-corny English dialogue. No matter which way you go, it’s sweet. I like the music as well, which is wonderfully composed. You can just tell these guys are inspired by samurai movies of old, especially with their sweeping scores.

Just be warned: This game is a beast. It will eat you alive without hesitation in the hopes of making you learn a thing or two. But that’s something that’s to be expected from the team at FromSoftware. I’m not sure what prompted Activision to take such a gamble, but I’m glad they did. Sekiro is a thrilling experience that makes you work for your effort, and rightfully so. Now…what’s next, dare I ask? 4.5/5 Bibles.

-Robert Workman

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