A playable demo of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was available at Gamescom 2018 and oh boy, there’s a lot we need to talk about. Keep in mind that this isn’t the final version of the game so some details and features might change.
If you’ve played any of the Soulsborne games, you’ll definitely compare Sekiro to its older brothers to see if FromSoftware is still playing by the “super tough, super rewarding” rule and… yes. The rule still applies but…
This time, you won’t die from miscalculating the amount of stamina you have and if you do die, you don’t always need to restart from a Sculptor’s Idol (think bonfires). Because get this: There is no stamina bar and you can resurrect yourself after you die. Heck, there’s even a dedicated jump button this time.
You’re gonna be jumping and grapple-hooking a lot to position yourself for stealth attacks so it’s no surprise that they’ve decided to do away with the stamina bar. You’re probably asking “So I can just mash away?”. Guys, this is a FromSoft game. Mashing only leads to your death.
What you’re gonna have to keep your eyes on is a new mechanic called Posture. Both you and your enemies will have a Posture bar and when Posture is “broken”, a deathblow can be dealt. Block for too long and all those hits you’re tanking will break your posture. Deflect an enemy’s attack with a well-timed block and you do more damage to their Posture than they do to yours.
The biggest game changer is stealth. It’s not just about positioning yourself for backstabs and plunging attacks anymore. There will be tall grass to hide in, walls to hug, and ledges to hang on to. Timing is crucial too. Attack before your lock-on glows red and your elegantly planned death-from-above will be replaced with a default mid-air slash.
By the way, I wasn’t kidding when I said you can just come back to life after you die. I can already hear the “too easy, made for casuals” groans coming from Soulsborne fans but believe me, it’s not that simple. You can only resurrect after you’ve successfully killed an enemy or do a shinobi deathblow. Against a boss, I don’t know how useful it’ll be.
If FromSoft is making a game that gives you one extra life, then you bet it’s gonna be harder than the games that didn’t.
We can’t talk about Sekiro without talking about the tools in the shinobi’s prosthetic arm. Aside from the grappling hook, the demo allowed players to test out three interesting tools. There’s the Loaded Axe that obliterates enemies’ shields and breaks their Posture. Secondly, you get the Flame Vent which creates bursts of fire. Last but not least, the Loaded Shuriken which you can use to… throw shurikens.
But wait, there’s more! You can even combo your regular attacks into the prosthetic tools’ actions. For example, the Flame Vent combos into a slash that applies a fire buff to your katana and the Loaded Shuriken allows you to close the gap between you and an enemy with a lightning-speed slash.
There’s actually a few other cool small details that I’d love to talk about but I think you get the gist of it. Forget the defensiveness of Dark Souls and the aggressiveness of Bloodborne. Sekiro is a whole new beast that’s ready to show you new ways to die again and again.
Gameplay screenshots belong to Youtubers VaatiVidya and EpicNameBro