March Madness in gaming is still ongoing. With titles like Devil May Cry 5 and The Division 2 already making headway and turning heads, let’s not forget about From Software’s latest entry that will be a quite a departure from their Dark Souls series. It’s got ninjas, it’s got mythical creatures, and it’s got tough-as-nails combat.

Okay, maybe it’s not a huge departure, but the combat damage numbers and character customization bits are taken out in order to focus on something new. Here’s what you need to know about Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

It heralds From Software’s return to action games.

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They’ve done a lot of action RPGs with tough challenges. Now, they’re regressing back to the days when they made games like Otogi and Ninja Blade. Oh yes, we can’t forget about those janky-but-fun pieces of work (which we’ll talk about in great detail later this month).

After making so many awesome and challenging Dark Souls games and trying out a slightly different spin with the PS4-exclusive Bloodborne, it’s nice to see the company attempting to go back to its roots while hopefully infusing what they’ve learned into this ninja game.

It’s set in feudal Japan….

Specifically in the Sengoku period, where there’s a lot of unrest and war between different factions and daimyos. You play a shinobi sworn to protect a young lord. After the latter is kidnapped, you have to fight your way through a major city to hunt down the kidnappers and mess them up.

Sure, your arm was cut off during the fateful assault, but luckily you get a sweet prosthetic that allows you to do all sorts of things.

…And it’s full of mythical creatures, spirits, and all sorts of samurais

Not only will you fight against heavily armoured samurais and cutthroat assassins, you’ll also be dealing with a ton of giant beasties and ogre-like monstrosities brandishing giant weapons and axes. How do you like to fight a giant buffalo with flaming horns, a giant ghost monk with a polearm and teleportation skills, and a giant white snake? If that sounds like fun, you’re in for a heckuva spiritual ride.

Combat is all about parrying & breaking posture

When fighting many of the “friendly” denizens of Sekiro’s map, you’ll be brandishing your sword and using all of your available gadgets (which we’ll go into detail after this section). You’ll need to fill up an opponent’s “Stun” meter, breaking their posture and guard, and then landing hard-hitting blows that come with their unique set of animations.

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To do this, you need to just attack your enemies, or just defend and parry their assaults. Parrying will give opponents more stun meter, but doing it wrong will put you at a disadvantage. You can block, but you’ll just keep getting more stun meter as opponents will keep attacking you. Sekiro’s aggressive gameplay encourages you to hit first, parry when needed, and deal maximum damage when your opponent fumbles.

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Or failing that, you die: easy as that.

Your main character is all kitted-out…

…thanks to the prosthetic arm. You can use it as a grappling hook to swing around the place. You can also turn your arm into a makeshift metal axe that breaks shields and enemy defense. And you can even use it as a flamethrower of sorts, like how Rurouni Kenshin‘s Shishio did with his sword and gunpowder.

Your shinobi can also play the stealth game, as all ninjas should. Most enemies will engage you in combat, but if they don’t see you, you can just stab them from the back or jump on them from above.

Your main character can resurrect himself

Yes, you can die twice as the subtitle suggests. You can resurrect yourself after falling in battle. However, if you use it at the wrong time, you can respawn with all your stuff missing; presumably stolen by some grunt walking around your corpse.

Also, the enemies in your area will respawn at a set time, so you can wake up and all of a sudden get a sword shoved up your skull. However, you can resurrect the moment a single enemy’s back is turned, so you can go for a stealth kill and take your stuff back from him/her/it.

The game is looking more like a 2019 version of Tenchu

Remember the Tenchu series? Those 3D action games where you had to sneak around to your objective and stealth kill bad guys? People forget that game after the Metal Gear Solid series and indie darling Mark of the Ninja stole its thunder, eh?

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It’s coming out 22 March for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

It’s a week away. Better start pre-ordering now. Or you can try your luck with this super-limited edition PS4 Pro. 

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