Sekiro or Why I Want to Forget This Experience.
Not for me, no thank you
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won the game of the year at the games awards 2019. Yes, it is that good, and yes, it is totally deserved.
The first time I heard about Sekiro was on March 22, 2019. That was the date when the game came out and I never really heard of it before. It got me curious; I started reading through its glowingly positive reviews and after a couple of minutes, I went from slightly interested, to extremely excited. I immediately wanted to buy the game.
Then I realized that this game was from the same people who made the Dark Souls series, From Software. I froze and immediately backpedaled on my purchase - little I knew that I was missing on something epic. The reason I did not go forward was because of Dark Soul 2. I played it a bit when it came out on PC and I absolutely loathed that game. I could not understand how on earth anyone would get any kind of enjoyment with that level of near-impossible difficulty. Thus, when I read that Sekiro was following the same path, my interest dropped at once. But for some reason, this game stayed on my mind for some time. It might have been that the videos I saw from Youtube were tantalizing: the artwork, music, graphics and visual gameplay was simply out of this world. A perfect recipe for a wonderful game, only spoilt by its difficulty.
I have two kids and a wife that takes up most of my time outside of work. My personal “me-time” is thus quite restricted and highly valued, and the last thing I want (or so I thought) is to “lose” time retrying my failed attempt and get frustrated in the process.
Peer pressure led to an unforgettable experience
One of my friends who played the game told me how much I was missing out on this, that if I liked any Souls game I would love this. Then a discussion went on about how on earth I would want to get killed countless time, get frustrated and try to break my keyboard and monitor in the process. Even more so that I utterly disliked Dark Souls. He was so insistent that he bought me the game and made me promise to try it out. I caved in.
Few days later he gets a call from me, frantically asking him how he managed to beat the Demon of Hatred. I was on my 15th try.
Dying and looking forward to die again.
How the hell I managed to go from totally skeptical of that game to one of its biggest fan?
When I first started the game, I was like “OK, this is manageable” then I encountered Lady Butterfly, my first real boss. My frustration started to grow and I was considering dropping the game here. But I loved the setting, the moment to moment gameplay and I wanted to see this through. After a couple of tries, I understood the movement pattern and getting those successful counters were one of the most satisfying moments of my gaming career. When I died, I was not frustrated anymore, but rather looking forward to try and die again so I could get closer to the end.
I remember after beating that first boss, I literally jump out of my chair, sweating and trembling. Wife came to see what this fuss was about, looked at me with an expression of “what the hell” and silently walked out. Me looking at her and my PC with a goofy grin. I knew at this instant that From Software delivered a masterpiece that would not get forgotten soon.
I then realized that this was not Sekiro, the protagonist, who got better with accumulated experience, similar to any other action or RPG game. It was me, I got better at understanding the game, the mechanics, the movement, the patterns and that is a powerful feeling.
Then came Genchiro, the most difficult encounter I experienced in gaming – I thought, on that moment. If I knew what would come after! This was a fight I would not forget soon.
The Guardian Ape was something else, this is where I let out a screech when he went up, grabbed his head and started to swing at me, again! For some reason, I managed to “one shot” this boss, only time it happened.
There were a few other encounters more or less difficult. One of those, The Divine Dragon was arguably one I will not forget soon. I kept dying again and again there, not because of the difficulty, far from it as it was the easiest boss of them all, but because of my lack of focus. I was simply struck and dumbfounded from the magnificent visuals, artwork and music.
Least I forget
I finally came to the end of Sekiro Journey and had to face the final boss Isshin, The Sword Saint. What a fight. When I got the guy down and had to strike the last blow, I hesitated as I did not want this to finish. I never felt like this in any game, movie or series ever.
When everything was done, I wanted to forget that I played this game and wanted to forget this experience, erase it from my memory and start again. The new game plus mode did not cut it for me. It was the wonder of discovering a new world, mastering the techniques and getting to know the gameplay ins and outs that was so thrilling.
With Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, From software convinced me that Dark Souls could be good after all!
A perfect 10/10.
© 2019 Maxwell Scott Goodman