With its feudal Japan setting and punishing combat, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice brings a unique spin to the action RPG genre. But is this critically-acclaimed game from the makers of Dark Souls worth the $60 price tag?
This comprehensive 3000 word guide will analyze every angle of Sekiro to determine if it’s worth buying and playing through. We’ll weigh the steep difficulty curve, engaging combat mechanics, innovative gameplay elements, world design, replay value, and more.
The quick take: Sekiro rewards patience and perseverance with one of the most immersive, challenging action experiences in gaming. But the steep learning curve may deter some players.
Gameplay, Combat and Difficulty
Third-Person Action Mechanics
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offers a unique and immersive gameplay experience through its third-person action mechanics. Players take control of the protagonist, a skilled shinobi, as they navigate beautifully crafted landscapes, engaging in intense battles and stealthy encounters.
The game’s controls are smooth and responsive, allowing players to seamlessly move, jump, and dodge attacks with precision.
Precision-Based Sword Fighting
The combat system in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice revolves around the art of sword fighting. Players engage in duels with enemies using a variety of techniques, including parrying, blocking, and counter-attacking.
Each encounter requires careful timing and strategic decision-making, as a single mistake can have dire consequences. The satisfaction of landing a perfectly timed counterattack and watching the enemy fall is unparalleled.
Brutal Enemies and Bosses
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is notorious for its challenging and unforgiving enemies and bosses. From towering monstrosities to agile warriors, each encounter presents a formidable obstacle that tests the player’s skills and determination.
The game’s attention to detail in enemy design and attack patterns creates thrilling and intense battles that keep players on the edge of their seats.
High Learning Curve
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is not for the faint of heart. The game’s difficulty can be overwhelming for newcomers, requiring patience and perseverance to master its mechanics. The learning curve is steep, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges is immensely rewarding.
Players who enjoy a demanding and gratifying gaming experience will find Sekiro to be a true gem.
World, Storytelling and RPG Elements
Mythic Feudal Japan Setting
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes players on a captivating journey through a mythical feudal Japan setting. The game beautifully captures the essence of this time period, immersing players in a world filled with stunning landscapes, ancient temples, and intricate architecture.
From cherry blossom-filled gardens to towering samurai castles, the attention to detail in recreating this historical era is truly remarkable. Players will find themselves awestruck by the visual beauty and authenticity of the game’s world, making it a truly memorable experience.
Light Storytelling with Lore
While Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is primarily known for its intense action gameplay, it also offers a captivating storyline with deep lore. The game employs a light storytelling approach, allowing players to uncover the narrative through exploration and interactions with NPCs.
By piecing together fragments of information and discovering hidden secrets, players are rewarded with a rich backstory that adds depth and meaning to their journey. This combination of gameplay and storytelling creates a compelling and immersive experience for players.
Character Progression System
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice features a unique character progression system that adds depth and customization to the gameplay experience. As players defeat enemies and overcome challenges, they earn experience points that can be used to acquire new skills and abilities.
This progression system allows players to tailor their character’s playstyle to their preferences, whether it be focusing on stealth, brute strength, or mastering the art of swordsmanship. The sense of growth and improvement as players unlock new abilities adds a satisfying layer of progression to the game.
Non-Linear Level Design
One of the standout features of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is its non-linear level design. Unlike traditional RPGs, the game offers players multiple paths and routes to explore, each with its own unique challenges and rewards.
This non-linear approach encourages players to experiment and find their own strategies for tackling each area, adding a sense of freedom and agency to the gameplay. It also enhances replayability, as players can choose different paths on subsequent playthroughs to discover new secrets and experiences.
Replayability and Post-Game Content
One of the key factors that determine the value of a game is its replayability and post-game content. In the case of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, players are in for a treat as the game offers a variety of features that incentivize multiple playthroughs.
New Game Plus Cycles
One of the main attractions for players looking to dive back into Sekiro is the New Game Plus (NG+) cycles. With each subsequent playthrough, the game becomes more challenging, offering a fresh experience even for seasoned players.
Enemies become tougher, new enemy placements are introduced, and players are encouraged to utilize their skills and knowledge gained from previous playthroughs to overcome these new obstacles. It’s a thrilling way to test your mastery of the game’s mechanics and push yourself to new limits.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offers multiple endings, adding a layer of intrigue and replay value to the game. Depending on the choices made by the player throughout the game, they can unlock different paths and outcomes for the story.
This encourages players to explore different playstyles and make different decisions to uncover the various endings, creating a sense of discovery and curiosity.
To truly master Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, players can engage in mastery challenges. These challenges are designed to push players to their limits and test their skills in combat. From timed boss battles to obstacle courses that require precise movements and quick reflexes, these challenges provide an additional level of difficulty for those seeking an extra challenge.
Completing these challenges not only offers a sense of accomplishment but also rewards players with unique items and upgrades, further enhancing the gameplay experience.
Hidden Areas and Collectibles
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is packed with hidden areas and collectibles, encouraging exploration and thorough investigation of its meticulously crafted world. From secret paths to hidden treasures, players will find themselves uncovering hidden gems as they traverse the game’s stunning environments.
These hidden areas and collectibles not only add to the game’s replayability but also provide additional lore and backstory, enriching the overall gaming experience.
Weaknesses and Critiques
Difficulty Gatekeeps Progress
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is known for its notoriously challenging gameplay, which can be a double-edged sword. While many players relish in the intense difficulty and the satisfaction of overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles, others may find themselves constantly hitting a wall.
The game’s steep learning curve and unforgiving nature may discourage some players from progressing further in the game. However, it’s important to note that the difficulty is an intentional design choice by the developers, aiming to provide a unique and rewarding experience for those who are up for the challenge.
Occasional Technical Issues
Like any complex video game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is not without its technical shortcomings. Some players have reported occasional frame rate drops, glitches, or other technical issues that can momentarily disrupt the immersive experience.
It’s worth mentioning that these technical problems are not widespread and do not significantly impact the overall gameplay. The developers have been proactive in addressing these issues through regular updates and patches, ensuring that players can enjoy the game to its fullest potential.
Less Customization Than Other RPGs
Compared to other RPGs, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offers less customization options for the player character. Unlike games where you can extensively customize your character’s appearance, skills, and abilities, Sekiro places more emphasis on the predetermined character development and progression.
While this may disappoint some players who enjoy personalizing their in-game avatars, it is a deliberate design choice that allows for a more focused and narrative-driven experience. The lack of customization is compensated by the deep and intricate combat mechanics that require mastery and strategic thinking.
Lack of Co-op or Multiplayer
One of the notable aspects that sets Sekiro apart from other RPGs is the absence of co-op or multiplayer modes. Unlike games that encourage cooperative play or PvP battles, Sekiro is a solitary experience, where players must rely solely on their own skills and tactics to overcome challenges.
While this may be a disappointment for gamers who enjoy playing with friends or engaging in online interactions, it aligns with the game’s theme of solitude and personal growth. The lack of multiplayer features allows players to fully immerse themselves in the world of Sekiro and forge a deeper connection with the protagonist’s journey.
While Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has its fair share of weaknesses and critiques, it is important to consider them in the context of the game’s overall design and intention. The challenging gameplay, occasional technical issues, limited customization, and lack of multiplayer may not appeal to everyone, but for those seeking a unique and immersive experience, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice delivers in spades.
Price and Special Editions
Base Price and Sales
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launched at the standard $59.99 USD price point. Several months after release it saw a permanent price drop to $39.99. Even better, it frequently goes on sale on various platforms for 50-75% off, dropping as low as $15.
Deluxe and Collector’s Edition Extras
The Deluxe Edition came with the base game, a digital artbook, digital soundtrack, and two in-game skins for $69.99. The Collector’s Edition cost a hefty $89.99 but packed in a ton of physical goods – steelbook case, replica Shinobi prosthetic arm, cloth map, collectible coin, and more.
FromSoftware has not released any paid DLC expansions for Sekiro yet. However, they did add some nice free updates like a boss rush mode and new combat abilities. Given the developer’s track record, there is a chance we could see larger paid DLC down the line.
Included Digital Goodies
Every copy of Sekiro comes with the digital soundtrack and 2 dynamic themes for PS4 players. Several retailers offered exclusive digital items like mini artbooks. Overall, you get a decent selection of digital goods even with just the base version of the game.
For gamers craving intense, high-stakes melee combat, Sekiro delivers an incredibly rewarding challenge. But overcoming its unforgiving difficulty demands patience and resilience.
While not for all players, those drawn to precision swordplay, Feudal Japan aesthetic and clever RPG mechanics will find Sekiro an engrossing modern classic. Persevering through its steep learning phase unlocks one of gaming’s most gripping adventures.