FromSoftware director Hidetaka Miyazaki reinvented the wheel when it comes to combat with Bloodborne and the Dark Souls trilogy, and now the world is getting a look at how the innovative developer will tackle traditional storytelling in the new Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice story trailer. True to form for Miyazaki, the visually stunning cinematic provides only a brief glimpse into the origin story of the game's protagonist, leaving many details shrouded in mystery. However, what little it does show of the game's characters and brutal reimagination of feudal Japan is sure to excite players itching for the type of single-player experience only FromSoftware can deliver.
Set in a fictionalized 16th century Japan, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice promises to continue gameplay trends started in Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne by taking massive steps away from the slow pace of the first Dark Souls games. Players will take control of the disgraced "one-armed wolf," a shinobi outfitted with a mechanical prosthetic that doubles as a grappling hook. Called the Shinobi Prosthetic, this versatile tool allows players to nimbly traverse the semi-open game world with an impressive level of freedom and pull off stealth kills and devastating attacks. On that note, combat has been greatly revamped in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice compared to earlier FromSoftware titles, with the protagonist's newfound agility adding an entirely new dimension to the game's duel-like boss battles.
While the considerable augmentations to the developer's long-established combat systems that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice boasts have been known since the game's E3 2018 reveal, the details of its story have remained fairly vague until now. In the game's latest story preview trailer, the "one-armed wolf" has been given a backstory, and it's as dark and tragic as fans have likely grown to expect from Hidetaka Miyazaki. The brief trailer opens on a bloody battle, and in its aftermath a young version of the protagonist sits beside the body of a dead samurai, despondently examining his sword. A large samurai lord approaches him, marking the protagonist's cheek with his blade and referring to him as a "starving wolf" with "nothing left to lose," implying that the fallen warrior between them was the protagonist's father or guardian. The lord takes him into his service, and a sudden time-skip to the game's actual setting sees the maimed protagonist encapsulated in shadow, ending with his lord cryptically stating that he "had no idea what [the protagonist] had become."
This cursory look into Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's story gains much more meaning when coupled with the game's official description, revealing that the "one-armed wolf" is "bound to protect a young lord who is the descendant of an ancient bloodline," likely as part of his obligations to his master. The protagonist's ward is the "target of many vicious enemies," including a rival clan known as the Ashina. The game's premise revolves around the protagonist's failure to protect the young lord, who is kidnapped and must be rescued at all costs, "even death itself." This is likely in reference to the novel way in which Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice handles death, allowing players to use their own demise to their advantage and penalizing frequent defeat.
It's unknown how much more, if anything, of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's story gamers will see before its fast-approaching release, but with a phenomenal track record like FromSoftware's, it likely won't take further convincing for fans of the souls-like genre. Though it seems more accessible and marks a massive departure from the weighty and sluggish pace of Miyazaki's prior work, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's impressive combat, gorgeous world, and patently dark atmosphere are highly unlikely to disappoint when the game launches in March.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on March 22, 2019.