Preview: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice evolves the Souls series in the right direction
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the next game by From Software, the developers behind the popular Dark Souls, Demon Souls, and Bloodborne series.
It follows a lot of conventions from the previous series, where players must get through a host of powerful enemies that could kill you in a single hit on the way to fighting an even more powerful boss.
Sekiro, however, is more than just another Souls-like game.
Changing the core mechanics
Souls games are known for being ridiculously hard from the get-go, forcing players to adapt or die to any situation. Sekiro, however, introduces new changes that make situations a lot easier.
The first big change, at least in the demo, is the inclusion of a second life. When you die, you'll no longer be returned to the beginning of the level to start again. Instead, you'll be offered a second chance with reduced health.
Honestly, we were taken back by this when we experienced our first death. We're used to the game just revealing the "Game Over" screen and putting us back at the last save point. We thought it was a joke at first, but then we were back on our feet, ready to die again.
You're also given the chance to wield multiple weapons at the same time through your switchblade arm. You can switch out weapons such as an Axe, Shurikens, or Fire, all at the same time to mix up combat. Your basic weapon is a samurai sword that you can use to attack and parry moves by timing the defensive stance at the right time.
Grappling is your best friend
Mobility is key in Sekiro thanks to the grappling hook mechanic added into the game.
Grappling around feels very fluid and you can easily see where you can grapple at all times thanks to the gray and green circle items. Gray means that you aren't in grappling distance, while green means that you are.
You can grapple in and out of combat, allowing you to skip fights you don't want to partake in or get out of a dire combat situation. This changes the Souls gameplay of "fight everything or run," offering a new movement option that has been desperately needed in these games for some time.
Understand that you'll still die... a lot
Even with these beginner-friendly elements, the game retains its insane difficulty. Fights require more planning, choosing how you're going to take down the forces in front of you.
We found ourselves scouting each mini area, deciding our plan of attack and coming up with escape plans in case things got rough. Stealth kills are so powerful that they're always worth doing, as well as taking out ranged units that could cause you more pain. Ranged units can also stop you from grappling and making a quick escape.
Then it's simply a case of getting rid of the melee units and trying to avoid a swarm of enemies as much as possible. And in the next area, rinse and repeat.
There are bosses, enemies that require certain items to be able to hit, enemies that require extensive planning, enemies that you can't really beat without further planning... the list goes on.
Our only gripe with the game was that we weren't able to play more. Sekiro's release date of March 22, 2019 can't come soon enough.