I Want To Delete Sekiro From My Brain So I Can Experience It Again

I finished Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice earlier this week and had a fantastic time learning its combat and tackling challenging bosses. I’m eager to play more and if I want to, I could start right over with New Game Plus.

Taking that plunge, however, has me wondering about the experience I’ll have. If the joy of Sekiro comes from overcoming challenges, will I have the same satisfaction now that I know what lays in store?

Sekiro’s one of the best games I’ve played in a long time, each new pathway revealing interesting secrets or leading me toward exciting swordfights. Even though I chimed in on the comments of my Kotaku colleague Joshua Rivera’s article yesterday about easy modes to say that I think it would be fine for Sekiro to have one, it’s also the case that, for me personally, the appeal of a FromSoftware game has always come from stumbling against difficult challenges and eventually overcoming them.

I clashed against the final boss for a little over a day before I finally beat it. I even streamed some of my attempts live on Kotaku’s Twitch channel. When I finally overcame the challenge and finished the game, the feeling was euphoric. So euphoric that I can’t wait to play again. But as I sat down at the sculptor’s idol in the Dilapidated Temple, I paused.

This is partly because there are still some lingering tasks left for me in the world. My initial playthrough was comprehensive—I got the somewhat hidden “Return” ending—but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for me to wrap up. I still need to talk with Hanbei again and put an end to his story. There are a handful of items and upgrades that I could buy and carry into my new playthrough. And although I already took down a majority of the bosses, I know there are some rogue Headless and mini-bosses out there in the world that I could hunt down.

It might be nice to head into a new playthrough only after gathering some of their prayer beads and upgrading my stats, even if FromSoft’s New Game Plus experience scales enemies to keep things difficult.

Still, as I sit here, looking at the game on my TV, I keep thinking about what made Sekiro and, by extension, all FromSoftware games appealing to me. There’s some lightning that I can’t put back into the bottle—the excitement of discovering the game’s challenges for the very first time. Part of what I really loved about Sekiro was learning to grasp its combat system.

It’s not too complicated, especially now that I understand it, but in my first time playing through the game, I experienced the satisfying process of going from newbie shinobi to veritable parry-queen. That learning experience is part of what made Sekiro so intoxicating to me. Going into a new game having already flexed those muscles means that a certain degree of challenge will be gone, as will the learning experience I loved from before.

I’m excited to tackle old challenges with the benefit of my improved skill, but it definitely won’t be the same.

I’ll also have greater knowledge of the world’s layout and won’t get to enjoy the process of getting lost and stumbling into new surprises. I’ll be able to explore more confidently, and Sekiro’s world has enough branching paths that I won’t completely recreate my journey from before.

Still, though, I won’t be as surprised by vistas or baffled by new enemies. Once you know a thing, some of the initial magic is lost. And while I am sure I’ll still love playing Sekiro, it’s definitely going to lose some of that mysterious lustre.

All that said, I’ll almost certainly start my second playthrough this week, but I can’t help but notice my hesitation to hit the X button on my controller and simply go for it. Sekiro’s different now.

In a game built around learning and exploration, having knowledge radically alters the experience. Still fun, still sure to challenge me from time to time, but different. That’s fine, but maybe I’ll take a little break before starting things up again.


Comments

    Congrats on finishing the game Heather, massive feat. Just wanted to know how you found the final boss, Sword Saint Isshin? I am currently on this one and it is brutal. Haven't had a chance to really sit down and nut out all the moves but really enjoyed every aspect of all the bosses and the game itself.

      It took me many hours to get him down. It's just a slog of learning the phases bit by bit.

      Phase 1 Geni - Start the fight getting behind him. If you double Ichiro, he won't follow up with the back hand mortal blade slash. Be massively aggressive. Counter when he counters, if he starts his combo chain, run around and lap behind him. When he jumps and dive stabs, side step and wait to see what he does, if he does nothing, attack, if he sweeps jump and if he stabs Mikiri counter.

      Phase 2 SSI1 - This one is pretty simple. Just get in his face, swing twice, then counter, he'll either do a three slash counter (just counter all parts and get back in there), swing and do a thrust you can mikari counter OR he'll sheath his sword, at this part run away and just keep running away / behind him and he'll dash and slash twice, you can get in a couple of hits behind him at this point.

      Phase 3 SSI2 - This one is a matter of learning his slashes and just countering like a mofo. The idea is to counter/block and then quickly recharge (by blocking) your posture before the next flurry begins. You want to get him swinging into the mikiri counter and this will be the main way you build his posture. Also when he jumps at you, you want to move/dodge towards into him and right then turn around and get a few hits in. This phase really is about getting the timing down.

      Phase 4 SSI3 - Exact same phase except he will now do a jumping lightning attack. If you can, jump in the air and launch the lightning back at him (was soooo satisfying doing this every time on my kill on him) and the rest is just a replay of the previous stage. So if you can't do the lightning reversal, just do what you did the previous stage.

      If it's any consolation, new game plus Geni (at the top of the tower) is just a stupid fight in which your posture just gets absolutely buttered down. Heck even the blazing bull was stupid -_-

        Cheers mate, yeah the first 2 phases were a piece of piss. It was the last 2 that I kept getting throttled. But your explanation is pretty good and seems nice and straight forward. Hopefully I can give it "stab" tonight :P

        Totally nailed it last night :P Combat just seemed to flow so smoothly and just clicked after my third attempt. Pretty stoked with it but wasn't overly happy about the Purification ending, guess I just gotta do it all again to get those others. Thanks for the tips!!!!

          Oh all the endings are pretty poor. The bad ending is probably the only "entertaining" ending. They're all... AND THEN THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER... OR DID THEY.

            Yeah lol, so after all my troubles I am up to my 4th playthrough and all the endings seem to have this recursion about it where its just this giant loop. Personally I like the Shura ending, probably the best one and makes you think about a certain boss in the game.

              Yup. I said this as well. Shura ending is easily the best ending. Because something actually happens.

    Also I wouldn't worry too much Heather. The new game mode is the "real" difficulty and boy is it PUNISHING.

    When you start Sekiro, it's: "No. I can't fall here. I must keep fighting."
    Then you finish the game and it's: "Now I've seen all your moves."
    Then you start NG+ and the bosses are like: "I was only using 1% of my power!"

      Did you use the Kuro's charm? Because that makes it sooo much harder.

        How does that stack up with the demon bell?

          It honestly makes it sooo much harder unless your a God at deflecting. Blocking any attack you take chip damage, and attacks deal a lot of posture damage more then they would normally.

    FM the odds are stacked in this game. Ogres some how manage to change the direction of their aerial attacks mid air?! This is some fcn bs, what a waste of money. Kudos to those that can get through this, but seems to me like more frustration than entertainment.

      It's like DS and BB. It just clicks after a certain point. I will agree the Ogres do have an annoying tendency to catch you on a grab they quite shouldn't have. There's only 2 of them in the game though.

        The first ogre is easy enough. Use fire on him and just wail. The second ogre is just a matter of running around the statue, and after he dives or jumps, get a few hits in.

          The first ogre can 180 his drop kick mid air! I wasn't expecting the difficulty curve to include enemies defying the laws of physics. Might have to concede I'm getting old, and struggled with the controller layout as well. Will try the fire attachment on him tonight with M&K I think.

          Godamn Tenchu was a box of puppies compared to this! lol

            I guarantee that with the fire attachment you would've made short work out of him :D

      Kite in a circle and punish grab attempts by jumping and grapple-attacking him. Easy, though it sends a bad message for future encounters.

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