Review: “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a true “Dark Souls” game

In Gaming and Tech, Lifestyle, Reviews
A screenshot of game character Sekiro staring into the distance of a region in Japan.
(Angelina Dequina / Daily Titan)

Patience and skill are the two chief attributes one must have when playing “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.” The gameplay is not only challenging but rewarding, like a true “DARK SOULS” game.

“Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” for PC released on March 21 and sold 100,254 copies within one hour of its release on the digital distribution platform Steam. The game’s immense success has made it the highest selling Steam game of 2019 so far.  

Currently, players of the game have amassed over 8 million hours in the game since its launch on Steam. The massive influx of players has made “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” the fourth most played game by Steam users in the last 30 days, according to Steam Charts.

The game follows the story of Sekiro, an outcast warrior who vows to protect his young master amid the bloody conflict during a reinterpretation of Japan’s Sengoku period.

Throughout this lawless period in Japanese history, warlords fought one another to seize regions of Japan. “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” replicates this setting in a beautiful and unfettered fantasy world. Enemies within the game are adorned with armor inspired by history but in a unique way.

The overall graphics of the game are also very impressive. The difference between the cinematic cutscenes and the actual game are almost indistinguishable. Although the game was written in Japanese, its English dubbing is thorough, evidenced by the meticulous casting of Sekiro’s voice actor, Noshir Dalal. Dalal, an Asian-American, has gained traction for his performance as Charles in “Red Dead Redemption 2.” This is evidenced by the casting of Noshir Dalal for the English voice of Sekiro, who has gained traction in the last year for his role as Charles in “Red Dead Redemption 2.”

Where “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” fails to impress is in the controller conversion to the mouse and keyboard. Playing the game with a mouse and keyboard is virtually impossible, which is a major disadvantage to those who dislike handheld controllers.

The inability to play PC games with a keyboard and mouse is an issue that is not foreign to some FromSoftware titles. “DARK SOULS: Prepare to Die Edition” and “DARK SOULS III” also struggle to accommodate the expectations of computer gamers with its unplayable keyboard and mouse controls.

However, “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” makes up for its lack of computer conformity by presenting players with interesting, stealth-oriented combat. Features such as eavesdropping  and using a grappling hook allow players to strategically plan out their attacks, which is a core component to success in any Souls-style game.

A special note should be added about the game’s resurrection feature. As the title of the game suggests, players are given the ability to resurrect on the spot with half of their health bar after they are killed in battle. The feature is deceptively simple in that it gives the player a second chance in the battle, but if they fail more than once, their progression in the game could be slowed by the accumulation status effect referred to as Dragonrot.

Enemies in the game follow the learning curve of abilities. Each enemy has their own set of moves that are flexible with what the game teaches players as they progress. The ability to travel between Sculptor’s Idols, respawn points that are akin to bonfires in “DARK SOULS” games, is a useful element that gives players the chance to revisit bosses in different places.  

After learning the caveats of combat situations in the game, a world of open-ended solutions for the immensely difficult bosses is unveiled. This is one of the biggest strengths of the game because players can blend playstyles.

The dynamic of “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is different than most Souls-style games because its features add a layer of complexity that deepens the nonlinear gameplay. It is unforgiving, and the intricate nature of the game is a perfect example of that.

By attaching consequences and rewards to the choices players make, the game establishes itself as a suitable successor to the “Souls” genre. What sets “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” apart is its revolutionary mechanics that give it the potential to contend for game of the year.

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