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Letters from the Front

From Software’s success with the Souls games and Bloodborne take on new meaning in Sekiro. While Sekiro is very much similar to the Souls games and Bloodborne with how challenging the game is and revolves around bosses and precise combat to win the day, Sekiro is not like them and it plays vastly different to those games that From Software is so recognized for.

You can say that Sekiro is much more of a stealth-action experience, an experience that is more story driven, focused, cohesive, and in many ways more forgiving than the Souls games and Bloodborne, despite the challenging difficulty that From Software brought over from those iconic games. As I’m going through the game, sick out of my mind and bed-ridden, I’m left with the same appreciation that I had while going through the Souls games and Bloodborne on top of appreciating the skills and the extreme patience you need in order to get through Sekiro.

Although Sekiro is very familiar to Souls veterans and Bloodborne veterans alike, Sekiro is a very different beast. The combat is very familiar, a similar system to the bonfires return in Sekiro. Although many mechanics and level design are similar to that of the Souls game and Bloodborne, Sekiro comes into its own when it comes to stealth, combat despite being familiar, and movement which is due to the grappling hook feature that your warrior carries. This grappling hook changes the way the game is played for numerous reasons and creates a shift in the gameplay. Every character within Dark Souls or Bloodborne was rooted in the ground as they walked down streets, alleyways, corridors, climbed up ladders and more but this isn’t the case in Sekiro. The level design within Sekiro is much more vertical which gives way too much fewer worries as you can grapple your way to safety and start fresh. Between jumping and grappling to a nearby safe spot to recharge and retackle problems is a great relief as opposed to being cornered and overwhelmed in some corner of the game’s world, getting into trouble is much less now as you have these tools at your disposal. This new mobility reinforces Sekiro’s stealth mechanics and makes them stronger as now you can escape danger, do silent takedowns, and much more as opposed to games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne.

The same mechanic stretches to general gameplay mechanics like sneaking and fighting against enemies. With this great freedom that wasn’t available in games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, certain environments take on an entirely new meaning and environments, in general, are seen through a new brand light as you can do all these different things with the grappling hook and thanks to the grappling hook it exposes the world as a place that isn’t adding to your misery as opposed to games like Dark Souls and Demon Souls. The world of Sekiro is as deep and dense like the world in Dark Souls and Bloodborne, there is immense lore and the staples of games like Dark Souls still remain in Sekiro.

The combat in Sekiro is very reminiscent of the Souls games and Bloodborne, anyone who has played those iconic games will feel right at home in Sekiro. Combat in Sekiro is based on skill-based swordsmanship that requires mastery of a counter system despite being very familiar. While parries and counters felt organic in games like Dark Souls, in Sekiro they are crucial and absolutely necessary to beat enemies and the bosses.

Counters are peppered between thrusts, standard attacks, and heavy attacks and grapples that are hard to master. Much like in Dark Souls or Bloodborne, you have to pay attention to animations and your positioning to make sure you come out alive, these animations give you a split second to guess what is coming and how to counter said attack. Combat in Sekiro is very much like a dance, once you master it, it becomes a thrilling exchange of tactics and clashing swords.

Set in a period of extreme upheaval and a state of constant military conflicts in Sengoku Japan in the late 1500s, you step into the shoes of a disgraced and disfigured warrior who was rescued from death. He is bounded to protect a young lord who is a descendant of a Japanese royal ancient family and when the young lord is captured, he goes on a quest to find him and to regain his honor, this mystical take on this ancient period in Japan’s history is one of beauty. At first, Sekiro begins like a work of historical fiction set amongst the backdrop of a bloody period of turmoil in Japan’s history and then in classic FromSoftware fashion, the story turns to the supernatural and it is a nice blend of historical fiction and Japanese mythical lore. The vibrant world and the atmosphere creates a world that is lived in and filled with history.

In the end, Sekiro evolves the FromSoftware formula and pushes their games forward. Sekiro is a more focused and cohesive experience than their other games. Sekiro is an amazing game that can stand alongside FromSoftware’s other games like Dark Souls. You should definitely check the game out and stay tuned for my review.

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