The much-anticipated Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice slices its way to release tomorrow and so far many critics have fallen in love with FromSoftware’s shinobi flavored follow-up to Bloodborne and the Souls series. The tough-as-nails action/stealth adventure currently boasts an 90 percent aggregate score on Metacritic. Several reviews remain in progress, (likely due to codes going out later than normal), but those critics appear to largely enjoy their experience thus far.
Gamers got their first glimpse of Sekiro via a teaser during the 2017 Game Awards. FromSoftware unveiled the title in full during E3 2018. Unlike the fantastical settings of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Sekiro’s story takes place during the 16th century Sengoku period of feudal Japan. Players control Wolf, a shinobi tasked with protecting a young lord. A rival clan manages to kidnap the leader, sever Wolf’s arm, and leaves the warrior for dead. After Wolf recovers and has his lost limb replaced with a multi-functional prosthetic arm, he sets out to rescue his lord and cut down his would-be killers.
While Soulsborne faithful will find some familiarity with Sekiro, the game executes a ton of new ideas that will throw even FromSoftware veterans for a loop. Stealth and verticality play a major role, as players can use Wolf’s arm to grapple atop rooftops and ambush foes from above. The elimination of a stamina bar forces more offense-heavy battles. Praise has been heaped upon the thoughtful and challenging process of breaking through an opponent’s defense to land powerful Deathblows. Another much-touted feature is Sekiro’s unique death mechanic. Upon dying, Players have the choice to instantly revive themselves with resources intact. However, doing so has ill effects on the world and narrative. Check out why critics are hailing Sekiro as a brutal but refreshing shakeup to the Souls formula below.
Game Informer: 9/10 - Daniel Tack
Sekiro’s story moves in strange and compelling ways that defy the initial adherence to the trappings of feudal Japan, and allows the player to discover multiple endings and confrontations depending on choices and secrets. It’s a challenging journey through a weird and wondrous world that forces you to learn and master its punishing combat to succeed. However, the sweet thrill of victory keeps you pushing forward despite myriad disheartening deaths. Sekiro is one of the most difficult games I have ever played, but for those seeking adventure, exploration, and a truly realized ninja fantasy, the trek is worth the high demands.
Polygon: Review in Progress - Dave Tach, Jeffrey Parkin
I have to put in a lot of work and effort to meet Sekiro on its own terms, but what might feel ponderous in a lesser game becomes rewarding in one created with this much care. Sekiro meets me with just as much effort and enthusiasm as I’ve put into it. It lets me know I’m capable and skilled, and that I can figure it out. And then it hands me my ass again.
IGN: 9.5/10 - Brandin Tyrrel
Within the first minutes of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, there’s no missing the fact that FromSoftware has built its Shinobi-focused adventure from the DNA of the Souls and Bloodborne series. But this new mutated strain is as much its own stealth-action experience, one that’s more focused, cohesive, and in some ways forgiving, despite retaining its predecessors' trademark difficulty. As I rolled credits after 50 hours of pressurized-blood-geyser executions, fantastical monster fights, split-second swordsmanship, and sprawling, secret-filled areas, I’m left with a deep appreciation for this amazing journey and the skills it demands to master it.
VG 24/7 - Kirk McKeand,
Sekiro is a game a lot of people are going to bounce off. It’s one for the “git gud” crowd - for people who want a feeling of accomplishment, rather than the fake achievement you feel from finding some Level 20 Pants in most modern triple-A experiences. It’s FromSoftware at its most confident, at its most unapologetic. It’s Bloodborne but faster, with fewer crutches yet somehow more fair. It’s also one of the best games released so far in what’s already looking like a strong 2019.
Waypoint: Review in Progress - Austin Walker
Yes, FromSoft could have shipped another game that more cleanly fits one of their successful molds, another Souls, another Bloodborne. Instead, they radically iterated and came away with something that feels genuinely new to play. Which is appropriate: Like one of their own protagonists, FromSoft faced a choice between sustaining the past and charging into the unknown, and they chose the latter.
GameSpot: Review in Progress - Tamoor Hussain
The unflinching way Sekiro punishes you for missteps and the repetition of trial and error are clearly suited for people of a certain temperament and with a very specific, slightly masochistic taste in games. These are the people that are willing to endure devastating defeats for hours on end and watch as their progress is undone time and time again, just so they can have the intoxicating thrill of overcome a seemingly insurmountable challenge that awaits at the end. In that respect, Sekiro is unmistakably a FromSoftware game - but one unlike any we've had so far.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice appears as likely to make players lob their controllers in fury as it is to make them fist pump in exhilaration. It also proves that FromSoftware has more ideas up its sleeve than the well-worn Souls formula that has become a staple design trope. Sekiro clearly isn’t for the faint of heart. However, those patient and brave enough to accept its challenge will be rewarded with exceptional design, razor-sharp combat, and countless, countless deaths.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches March 22 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC