Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is looking to be the next big SoulBorne-esque game to grace us next March. I was intrigued by the gameplay that came out of Gamescom, so I analyzed the gameplay on YouTube from a video titled “21 Minutes of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Gameplay ► Gamescom 2018” posted by VaatiVidya. Here is what I deemed most notable. My background on the SoulsBorne series is dabbling with Bloodborne and playing through the extensive demo of NiOh last year. I’m mostly approaching this video as a fan of action games, especially ones that allow you to wield a sword and be stealthy. Much of the nitty-gritty systems (items, checkpoints, etc.) function identically to the SoulsBorne games.
The first thing that will strike anyone coming from the SoulsBorne series is the movement. You are very nimble, with the most notable ability being the grappling hook. You can grapple straight from the ground to predetermined latch points or combo it with a jump into a grapple for more leverage (there is a dedicated jump button in this game). It is very stylish and seamless.
With this ability naturally comes verticality. Maneuvering the environment will see you grappling to trees, jumping down from roofs, and jumping over fences to get the optimal drop on your enemies. You can hang off of ledges and propel yourself up a wall similar to how Lara Croft does in the recent Tomb Raider games.
This leads us into the stealth aspect of Sekiro. There is a dedicated sneak button that allows the protagonist to hide in shrubbery or even in plain sight. (I don’t know if this was a bug or intentional, but an enemy failed to locate Sekiro who was just off to the side. I’m sure the developers are working on how forgiving they want stealth to be.) Detection works nearly identical to how it functions in Assassin’s Creed. If enemies are suspicious, a yellow indicator will pop up that will turn red once the enemy takes full notice of you. Killmoves can be triggered once the indicator on an enemy glows red. Also, you are invulnerable during killmove animations.
There were three Shinobi Prosthetic abilities shown off during the gameplay. A big feature of the game is the protagonist having a prosthetic left arm which has been made combat efficient. He can switch his prosthetic to produce shuriken, become an axe, or become a flame vent. Shuriken are ranged attacks that enemies are very apt at blocking. The axe’s main use is to break enemy shields, and the flame vent spits out a line of fire while also setting Sekiro’s katana aflame. However, the amount of times you are able to use the Shinobi Prosthetic is limited by an item called a “white spirit emblem.” These can be collected from defeating enemies or throughout the environment. The max amount you can hold at any one time is 15.
NOTABLE COMBAT FEATURES
There is a new mechanic introduced in Sekiro called “Posture.” Landing hits on an opponent or pressuring them will increase their Posture meter. Once the meter is full, Sekiro can execute a killmove. Depending on the enemy’s health, the move will take them out or a full life bar. (I cannot overstate how amazing these killmoves look; the blood splatter is on point!) Enemies can do the same thing to your Posture, so be wary. Parrying is a big aspect of the combat. It is your primary form of damage mitigation, and if you do it perfectly, it counts against your enemy’s posture rather than your own. In addition, there is strafing and rolling if you’re grounded. I saw two different types of strafes; one had Sekiro become a blur for a second and the other looked like a conventional strafe. Lastly, you can jump off of enemies from the ground and trigger a killmove if their Posture is depleted.
From Software has made it a point to show off the resurrection mechanic in the trailers. Yes, you can resurrect in Sekiro from the spot that you died. You have two resurrect icons that I’ll refer to as tokens. If you die, you lose a token. However, these tokens can be earned back through kills. Thus, you can avoid a game over screen for a long time if you are able to prevent your deaths from happening too frequently. Also, if you fall/get thrown off the edge, your resurrections will not bring you back; it is game over.
Katana-wielding Sekiro is looking to be a blast to play as. The game is running beautifully. In light of very minor and infrequent animation quirks (landing from a drop and strafing immediately after gives Sekiro noodle legs and enemies can die stiff), Sekiro is looking marvelous. Analyzing the gameplay has risen my hype to new levels. Are you excited to play Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in March of next year? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
IMAGES DEVELOPED BY FROM SOFTWARE, PUBLISHED BY ACTIVISION