There’s a formula we’ve come to expect from FromSoftware titles, we’ve seen it time and time again with each addition to the legendary Souls series and the gothic masterpiece that was Bloodborne.
It’s a formula which the studio has seen little need to alter, flawlessly gliding from the inky, medieval kingdom of Lordran to the twisted streets of Yharnam, as each entry bottles our primal, masochistic passion for pain in a fever dream setting, while leaving us begging for one more run.
FromSoftware’s primary export, we feel, are distorted RPGs, infuriating “You Died” screens, and stunningly authentic worlds. So when it was announced at E3 2017 that the studio would launch a new IP set in feudal Japan, fans’ eyebrows were understandably raised.
Almost two years later, we finally got to sit down with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twiceat a preview event and found that FromSoftware and Activision’s latest offering adds some extra strength, and a lot of culture, to the formula we thought we knew so well…
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice follows the journey of a Shinobi during Japan’s war-ravaged Sengoku period.
Left for dead by a samurai commander, who cuts of his arm and kidnaps his boy master, the shinobi – known only as Sekiro (“one-armed wolf”) – is rescued by a peculiar sculptor who creates a prosthetic arm for the wolf.
Fueled by loyalty to his Divine Heir master, the Shinobi sets out to save his lord from Ashina castle and wreak vengeance on those who left him for dead – and it’s going to be bloody.
It’s here that you truly begin your journey, in the dilapidated temple that serves as your home base. The temple serves as a perfect introduction to the unsettling and curious characters that inhabit the world of Sekiro.
Firstly we have the sculptor who saved you, an abnormally hairy-legged elderly man who sits contorted on the floor of the temple, carving wooden statues of Buddha. His job is not merely to unnerve you, but to upgrade your prosthetic arm.
The Shinobi prosthetic initially comes with just the grappling hook ability, which allows you to transverse to higher ground and move seamlessly through the mountainous regions populated by ancient trees and temples.
This also provides excellent diversity when it comes to combat strategy, but we will come back to that later.