Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Hands-On Impressions


We attended PlayStation’s Media Thanksgiving event and it featured playable demos for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Kingdom Hearts 3. I was able to play Sekiro and there’s a lot to be excited for From Software’s next title.

For starters, this is not Dark Souls or even Bloodborne. Pressing R2 to make use of Sekiro’s grappling hook already changes the feel of the game, giving players multiple entries to engage the enemies in an area. During combat,I was able to grapple away from danger, recover lost health, and jump back in to continue the fight. Exploration is fun with Sekiro’s prosthetic arm (provides the grapple hook and other equipment), and the ability to sneak up on enemies is a welcome addition that best compliments Sekiro’s fast mobility.  

A familiar movement

Some mechanics reminded me of the Souls series. Pressing the right stick locks to the nearest enemy, and Sekiro has its version of the bonfire system that resets enemies in the area once you interact with it, which also recovers your health and replenishes your healing consumable.

Sekiro’s combat revolves around destroying an enemies posture meter. A system that with enough hits will place an enemy in a vulnerable state that will open them for a killing blow. This goes both ways though, as enemies can break a player’s posture and balance as well, making the player vulnerable for a lethal blow. This game requires a good balance of parry and blocks to survive in each fight. Each encounter felt like a clash between two samurais, ready in their fighting stance, waiting for the right time to either make the first move or react to your enemy’s advance.

At the end of the demo lies the encounter with the Corrupted Monk - one of the bosses you’ll face in the game. It’s a fight that can be made simple with a bit of memorization and familiarity with games like it. But I noticed that it had its own posture bar, which can be exploited to instantly take out 1 out of the boss’s 3 health bars. Taking down a health bar for the first time triggered a phase wherein the boss covers the fighting area with a fog, then the boss suddenly teleporting everywhere, attacking you in different locations. This is where I died multiple times. It’s hard. I like it.

I still have a lot to learn with how to properly succeed in Sekiro’s punishing world, and just like any demo in such an event, the allotted time given for the demo was not enough to grasp everything. There’s a lot of systems to be excited for, with some familiar ones to give players some familiarity once they begin their journey in Sekiro.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn’t an RPG with point allotment to certain stats and equipment builds to change how you can play the game. It’s an action adventure with a combat system that at the very least will remind you of From Software’s previous work. I like to think of this as From Software’s time to expand their creative side, without losing focus on what placed them on the spotlight once more.

In Sekiro, you play as an unnamed shinobi in 1500s Sengoku-era Japan. Tasked to protect a young lord, things don’t go so well, resulting in the character to lose his left arm and left to die. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, and you’re now roaming around with a prosthetic arm, which houses a number of gadgets to aid the player in this action adventure game. Like the grappling hook, which will probably be my favorite thing about Sekiro once I get my hands on the full game.

We also played Kingdom Hearts 3 and we like what we played so far.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be out on March 22, 2019 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Sekiro’s Collector’s Edition will be available on release and you can find all the details here.