Big quote: "For every idea Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice strips away from the Dark Souls formula, a new one is introduced. I love that FromSoftware isn't content to repeat the same formula in a different location. This is not Dark Souls: Japan, but something new and altogether uncharted."
FromSoftware seems to have surprised everyone with its E3 entries this year. First, there was Metal Wolf Chaos XD — the remastered port of the popular Japanese title by the same name (sans XD). Then there was the strange PSVR adventure game from Hidetaka Miyazaki, Déraciné.
Now its upcoming dark ninja game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (also directed by Miyazaki) is proving to be a wide departure from what the studio is known for — namely Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
The trailer for Sekiro (above) was initially revealed during Microsoft’s showcase on Sunday. From the teaser, one would be forgiven for thinking it was Dark Souls: Japan. However, FromSoftware gave PC Gamer a “closed-door” demo of the game, and it appears to be vastly different from anything the company has done before.
“This is not Dark Souls: Japan, but something new and altogether uncharted.”
As can be seen in the trailer, Sekiro is set in feudal Japan — the Sengoku Era to be precise. The player assumes the role of an unnamed shinobi (Sekiro?) who has his arm forcefully removed by an angry samurai. The ninja awakens sometime later to find his arm has been reattached by some creepy dude, but it looks to be rotten to the bone (it's actually a prosthetic).
This new appendage plays a vital role in the game’s mechanics. The arm provides the player with a grappling hook, a shield, and other offensive and defensive gadgetry, but this is not necessarily what sets the game apart from previous works out of the studio.
For one, Sekiro is not an RPG in any way, shape, or form. There is no leveling up. There are no specialties to master — no stats. Heck, there is not even armor or weapons to collect. It seems the developers are shooting for a pure action-adventure game this time.
However, PC Gamer says, “For every idea Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice strips away from the Dark Souls formula, a new one is introduced.”
As alluded to earlier, the gadgets that you find to attach to your “Shinobi Prosthetic” are what get you through the game. There are a “ton” of different devices that can be connected to the arm that radically change gameplay. For example, a torch attachment can be used to set enemies on fire, but it can also imbue your katana with fire damage. This new adaptability drastically changes the combat system.
“While [FromSoftware’s communications director Yasuhiro Kitao] was unwilling to give too many specifics on combat systems, I can safely say that Sekiro is unlike anything we've seen in other From Software games,” said PC Gamer’s Steven Messner. “Instead of hacking away at an enemy's health bar, Kitao says famed director Hidetaka Miyazaki wanted to capture the feel of ‘swords clashing.’”
There is also a “light stealth mechanic” employed. Players can hide against walls, hang from ledges, lie low in the grass, and perform instant stealth kills. The option to go covert takes the game even farther from Dark Souls’ in-your-face combat style.
The game also eliminates the need for checkpoints as when you die, you can immediately revive yourself to get back in the fray.
You might be asking: "Well what is the point in dying then?"
When you die, enemies think you are dead, so they go back to what they were doing which gives you the element of surprise during particularly vicious encounters. This immortality might seem to make the game too easy, but Kitao said there would be limitations, although he did not mention what those were (Die Twice?).
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is coming sometime in 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.