Details of plot, gameplay and visuals summarized:
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a third person perspective (TPP) action adventure game developed by the studio ‘From Software’ (renowned for making the Dark Souls games) and published by ‘Activision’. It was awarded the Game of the Year 2019. It follows the story of a shinobi, named Wolf by his father/mentor, in freeing his lord who has been kidnapped. The game is set in the 16th century fictionalized Japan during the Sengoku period. The player fights against enemy samurais and animals to save and protect his Lord Kuro whom he serves as a bodyguard.
Beware! This is not another hack n’ slash game for casual gamers where the player is overpowered against the bosses. This game demands skills and patience to learn techniques and use them against your enemies which requires many deaths and retries. Many have compared this with the Dark Souls and Bloodborne games, notorious for being difficult.
The game starts as the land of Ashina is near collapse as the lord of Ashina, Isshin Ashina is ill and his enemies are taking their steps closer. Lord Kuro is a Divine Heir whose blood has special power called ‘Dragon’s heritage’ which can resurrect the dead. Isshin’s grandson, Genichiro now wants to use the ‘Dragon’s Heritage’ to create an army of immortals to save Ashina and so kidnaps Lord Kuro and captures Wolf.
The Wolf somehow escapes and frees Kuro but then faces Genichiro while fighting whom loses his arm. Wolf, who has received the dragon’s blood from Kuro, survives and is saved by a former shinobi named Sekijo. The old shinobi gives him the ‘shinobi prosthetic’, a prosthetic arm loaded with shinobi tools. Wolf now has to go save his Lord and follow his command.
The player controls Wolf, a shinobi armed with a katana named Kusabimaru and the Shinobi Prosthetic. The enemies do not have a health bar but instead a stance bar. The player has to use different attacks and fill the stance bar after which Wolf can deathblow (a finishing fatal strike) the enemy. The Shinobi Prosthetic has different tools like shuriken, axe, firecrackers, umbrella shield, etc. These tools are effective against different enemies which the player has to learn and use accordingly. The prosthetic also has a grappling ability which allows the player to climb building and trees branches.
The player can deflect enemies’ attack which destroys their stance or defend the attack which destroys the player’s stance. The perfect timing is important to deflect strikes which the player learns as he plays through the game. Bosses generally require 2 or 3 deathblows unlike common enemies which require only one.
The game can be played both stealthily (hiding in the grass crouching and backstabbing enemies) and aggressively (confronting enemies directly). Leveling up grants player with skill points which can be used to learn new techniques, both stealth and attack. There are different art styles of fighting which the player can choose which to use. Difficult bosses appear as the player continues through the game. To defeat them many a times he requires more power so the player has to go previous areas to grind xp (defeat enemies and earn experience points). The prosthetic can be upgraded after getting certain items to unlock new shinobi tools.
The respawn system of the game is a bit different than traditional games. After dying, the player resurrects at the Sculptor’s Idol (checkpoint) due to the dragon’s blood which has repercussions. The xp earned since last resurrection and current money is halved after dying. The player can choose to resurrect on the spot using the Dragon’s Heritage. He is given two of these charges of which only one can be used at a time before resting at the checkpoint.
Sekiro has beautiful visual aesthetics and environment. There are different regions like dungeons, castles, villages, mountains, etc. At any point of the game, the surrounding is like a screenshot would become a beautiful wallpaper.
I cannot explain everything in an article, for that you have to play the game. The game requires you to study the move-set of hard bosses and then strategize how to use attacks and defeat them. If you start the game and keep getting wrecked, don’t lose hope. Keep trying because the satisfaction you will get after defeating a boss will be worth it.