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"Your death won't come easily..."
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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an Action-Adventure game developed by FromSoftware and published by Activision. The game released on March 22nd, 2019 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. It is directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls fame.

The game is set in the last years of Japan's Sengoku Era, in the fictional province of Ashina.note  As the whole country was plagued by war, Isshin Ashina staged a coup against the previous lord and managed to wrest control of the province after a key battle against General Tamura. Incidentally, a shinobi named Owl crossed paths with a young boy roaming the battlefield. Impressed by his composure, Owl then offered the boy to join him.

Twenty years later, the boy has grown and become the Wolf, a shinobi of the Ashina clan. He is tasked with a critical assignment in the face of the shogunate's attempts to centralize power: protecting Kuro, the Divine Heir to the Dragon's Heritage, which makes him and those of his choosing immortal. The pair are captured by a radical faction within the clan led by Genichiro Ashina, who hopes the Dragon's Heritage can turn the tide in the otherwise unwinnable war against the shogunate. Wolf, whose oath is to Kuro and not the clan at large, attempts to engineer an escape, but this goes awry when Genichiro intercepts them and severs Wolf's left arm in battle, leaving the shinobi unable to resist as Genichiro carries Kuro back into the fortress.

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Some time later, Wolf awakes in a dilapidated temple to learn he has been nursed to health and given a prosthetic arm hiding an array of weapons by a mysterious Sculptor of wooden Buddhas. Bound by the Iron Code of the Shinobi, Wolf must now assault Ashina Castle to bring back Kuro at any cost—and thanks to the Dragon's Heritage, death is only a minor obstacle.

The gameplay of Sekiro has shifted in several ways from the template of the Souls series, letting go most of the RPG elements such as weapon and armor customization or stat builds. In exchange, it adds the movement options and stealth of Tenchu, and Wolf's prosthetic left arm also serves as a combination of trick weapons and a grappling hook, enabling him to use a selection of special tools which add unique spins to combat. The game's combat system is also much more developed than in past titles, allowing Wolf to attack directly, deflect strikes, dodge out of grabs, jump above sweeping attacks and either deplete the enemy health bar or fill a Posture bar to perform a Shinobi Deathblow, killing the foe instantly. The game also leaves behind the Western Fantasy for a brand new setting based on feudal Japan with a slightly more defined story. However, Souls fans will still recognize the brutal difficulty, dynamic enemies, and very frequent deaths.

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In May 2019, FromSoft's parent company Kadokawa began publishing Sekiro Side Story: Hanbei the Undying, a free online prequel manga by Shin Yamamoto, with the English localization available on Yen Press's website.


Tropes in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

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  • Abnormal Ammo:
    • "White Spirit Emblems" - small paper effigies used in Onmyōdō - can be found in the environment or picked up from slain enemies to fuel Wolf's Shinobi Prosthetic (other than the free-use Grappling-Hook Pistol).
    • One of the upgrades for the Loaded Shuriken you can get is the "Sen Throw", which lets you chuck handfuls of coins at enemies - it costs money as well as Spirit Emblems to use.
  • Achilles' Heel: Some bosses and enemies, while extremely tough in a regular matchup, can become absolutely trivial if certain moves or prosthetic tools are used against them. For example, enemies with glowing red eyes like the Chained Ogre are afraid of fire, making them vulnerable to the Flame Cannon, shield-bearing enemies usually have their posture (and shields) instantly broken by the Loaded Axe, the Shuriken deals heavy damage to jumping enemies, including Lady Butterfly.
  • A.I. Breaker: A lot of the bosses have quirks in their AI that can be exploited to cheese them out. One of the more egregious examples is the Snake Eyes boss in the poison pit, who can be tricked into standing in the pool of poison and shooting at you behind cover while her health slowly degrades.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Several of the NPCs you encounter will live just long enough to tell you something important before dying from their wounds; they include a samurai at the Hirata Eastate, a Senpou assassin outside the Gun Fort, a Sunken Valley clansman near the second fight with the Guardian Ape, and several Ashina soldiers during the Interior Ministry's assaults on Ashina Castle (including a Nightjar who's likely the same one who accompanied Genichiro during the prologue. Downplayed with Inosuke Nogami, who's also near death, but won't die until after you complete the first Hirata Estate memory, which will most likely happen well after you first meet him.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Some of the best loot are hidden in missable coves, hidden walls, and other out-of-reach places that requires the player to explore every nook and cranny to find them.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Snake Eyes found in the Sunken Valley and Ashina Depths, and the Okami found in the Fountainhead Palace. The former are even descendants of the latter.
  • And the Adventure Continues: It happens for the Dragon's Homecoming ending. The Divine Child absorbs Kuro into her own body, and Wolf decides to accompany them on their journey west, to return the Dragon Heritage to the Divine Dragon's birthplace.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: It is said that those who kill many in battle are at risk of becoming a Shura, an unstoppable monstrosity that will slay anyone in its' path. The Sculptor eventually succumbs to his hatred, but he fails to become a Shura, instead turning into the Demon of Hatred. In one ending, Sekiro does the same, but unlike the Sculptor, he successfully becomes a Shura.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Enemy patrols are sometimes accompanied by mangy, wolf-like hounds. Quick and fragile, they aren't that dangerous in open combat... but are excellent at detecting Wolf when he's sneaking around.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • All shinobi associated with the Ashina Clan have an animal thematically attached to them. For starters, they all are referred to by animal names such as "Wolf", "Owl", and "Lady Butterfly", and their fighting styles are inspired by their respective namesakes. In fact, the Ashina's own shinobi are called "Nightjars" (after the real-life bird), and are acrobatic fighters who wear feather cloaks. This also applies to the Sculptor himself, as he was formerly a shinobi known as "Orangutan" who fought with a ferocity and agility acquired from training among the monkeys of the Sunken Valley.
    • The Fountainhead waters are worshipped by all the inhabitants of Ashina. As such, the Ashina Sword Style has two fundamental moves stated to be inspired by how a carp moves through a waterfall.
  • Animate Dead: The Puppeteer Ninjutsu allows Wolf to turn an enemy he just backstabbed into a temporary undead ally. This ability is needed if you want to fulfill the requirements for the "Return" ending.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • While direct combat has become more difficult, a number of mechanics have been implemented to soothe the player's frustration. Perilous Attacks, which require specific counters, are signaled by bright red "danger" kanji flaring up above the hero's head. Opening the menu now freezes time, allowing the player to consider what items to use at their leisure. Enemies will not attack Wolf while he's performing a Deathblow, waiting until he's done to strike again.
    • If Wolf falls from mortal heights, he will just respawn from where he fell from with some damage instead of being instantly killed, Zelda-style. Wolf is also incapable of falling off ledges unless you jump, allowing you to walk along precarious branches with a surprising amount of ease, and limiting how often you'll fall into pits.
    • Like the Bonfires of Dark Souls, Sculptor's Idols can restore Wolf's vitality and Healing Gourd uses, but will also respawn enemies. Unlike Bonfires, which apply all three effects automatically, at Idols you must specifically select "Rest" from the menu, meaning you can safely access the Idol's other features without refreshing enemies.
    • You start with the infinite-use Homeward Bone Expy (with no penalty for using it like the Darksign has) already in your inventory, rather than it showing up near the end of the game when you'd be rolling in enough cash to buy a never-ending supply of regular ones anyways like in Dark Souls II and III. It does take a few seconds to activate, during which Wolf is vulnerable, so it can't be abused to escape a bad combat situation without risk.
    • Merchants stock limited numbers of 100, 500, and 1000 Sen pouches in their inventory as a means of letting you safeguard money so that you don't lose it upon death in case Unseen Aid doesn't activate. About the only downside is "buying" these pouches costs the equivalent of the amount of Sen they carry plus 10%.
    • Most of the Mini-Bosses do not lock the player into their arena with fog gates, and those that do tend to only block the route past them, not the way you came in. This allows for a quick getaway to heal and recover if things go badly. The only downside is that if the boss loses aggro it recovers all its health.
    • Late in the game, you receive an item from killing the True Corrupted Monk called the Dragon's Tally Board. This makes it so that all consumables are able to be purchased an infinite amount of times from every single merchant, including Divine Confetti. This dramatically reduces the stress of fighting Apparition-type mini-bosses, since Divine Confetti is otherwise very rare.
    • When Sculptor becomes the Demon of Hatred and leaves the Dilapidated Temple, a workshop will be left at the spot he was, allowing you to fit and upgrade your prosthetic weapons without him.
    • In contrast to the extremely demanding parry-frame system of previous From games, Wolf can block all damage by guarding, and deflection - the equivalent of a perfect parry in earlier titles - is only dependent on WHEN you block, meaning that timing is all you need to worry about, rather than matching up parry-frames with the attack landing. This is averted in New Game+, however, where the player has the option of allowing damage through non-deflection blocks, in addition to making the game substantially harder.
  • Anti-Villain: The Ashina military aren't evil, just desperate. Constant assaults on their territory are causing them to slowly become exhausted and overstretched, with even their main castle slowly becoming a deteriorating wreck. The outskirts of their castle are a desolate war zone, and most of their army seems to have been reduced to dispirited recruits who are nowhere near the skill of an average samurai. As a result, they believe that sacrificing Kuro in a dark ritual and using his blood to make themselves unkillable will be the only thing capable of saving them.
    • Genichiro outright states that he does everything he does for the sake of his adopted homeland, Ashina. His motives are sympathetic; his methods, considerably less so.
  • Arc Words: "Do what must be done" and to a lesser extent "Hesitation is defeat".
  • Arm Cannon: Wolf's prosthetic arm has a little spool-like wheel that is primarily used to reel in his grappling hook - but it can be loaded with classic ninja weapons like shuriken, effectively making it this trope.
  • Armor Is Useless: Zig Zagged. In the game, armor is portrayed with relative accuracy. You can't cut through armor like a hot knife through butter, though you can stab where there isn't any, like the armpit or the throat in most deathblows. Certain armor like those worn by specific Taro Troops need to be pulled off by the Loaded Spear, otherwise those enemies are immune to frontal damage. A massive aversion would be the Armored Warrior, whose Western full plate and mail underneath prevent Wolf from even piercing through the gaps, requiring him to use a more creative approach. Wolf is also equipped with a few bits of armor as well, though not nearly enough to be protected like the samurai.
  • Armor of Invincibility: The Armored Warrior mini-boss is wearing a heavy suit of medieval armour that makes him completely immune to Vitality damage. Your only way to defeat him is to break his Posture, and even then, Wolf is forced to push him off a bridge because nothing else would do the job.
  • Arrows on Fire: Most archer bandits in Hirata Estate will shoot flaming arrows.
  • Artifact of Death: The Mortal Blade, whose real name is Gracious Gift of Tears, as well as its counterpart, Open Gate. It is said to be cursed and able to kill even immortal beings, but it cannot be drawn; Wolf discovers that whoever draws it dies on the spot, and he only manages it thanks to the Dragon's Heritage. The blade doesn't hurt Wolf upon further uses and can be used to perform the special skill Empowered Mortal Draw, letting Wolf make a particularly powerful slash with the Mortal Blade. Genichiro managed the same feat through reckless consumption of the Rejuvenating Sediment, mimicking Wolf's Immortal Oath, and was able to use roughly the same skill.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The enemy AI is quite stupid whenever the player uses stealth. Enemies may jump off ledges trying to pursue Wolf, their pathfinding can lead them to get stuck on objects, and so on and so forth...
  • Ascended Extra: In the game, Hanbei mostly serves as the player's trainer, schooling him on the basics of combat and defence. His backstory was however expounded upon in the prequel manga Sekiro Side Story: Hanbei the Undying.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: When resurrected by the Black Mortal Blade, Isshin Ashina is not only returned to the peak of his strength, but seemingly inherits Genichiro's and/or Kuro's immortality in the process, making him more akin to a supreme fighting spirit than a mere man.
  • Ascended Glitch: Though not actually a glitch, Dark Souls I players using Dung Pies to deliberately give themselves Toxic and become immune to the Blowdart Snipers's Toxic effect can hardly be considered a developer-intended use of the item. This game introduces Contact Medicine, an item with the express purpose of protecting you from Poison by giving you a weaker form of it.
  • Assassination Sidequest: When you meet the Tengu of Ashina, he asks you to kill Senpou Assassins in the vicinity of the Ashina Castle gate. As a reward, he gives you the ability to develop in the Ashina Skill tree.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: This is true for most groups in the game. Bandits raiding Hirata Estate are led by a humongous Juzou the Drunkard, generals of Clan Ashina are the deadliest warriors they can field (with their patriarch Isshin Ashina as their most powerful swordsman) and the Sunken Valley clan is led by the Snake Eyes, the two most formidable sharpshooters among them.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the higher-tier Prosthetic Tools can be quite powerful, but often come with downsides that their lower-tier versions might lack, such as greater Spirit Emblem consumption, longer wind-up times, or advantages that are very narrowly situational. Fortunately, even after unlocking higher-tier versions, the game still allows the player to equip the lower-tier (and more generally applicable) versions of Prosthetic Tools they have already unlocked.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • One of Wolf's offhand weapons is the Loaded Axe, a spring-action axe that he can use to destroy shields and heavily damage Posture - although the long windup makes it useless against quick enemies.
    • Some bandit enemies in the Hirata estate are armed with massive two-handed axes.
  • Back from the Dead: One of the game's main gimmicks, justified by Dragon's Heritage allowing the Divine Heir to bless one person of his choosing with eternal life. Once you die, you can activate a limited-use ability to resurrect on the spot and continue the fight, although the resurrection is on a cooldown and Wolf only gets half his health bar. Smart players can use this to their advantage - enemies and even some bosses will resume their usual patrol after killing you, creating openings for nasty sneak attacks.
  • Back Stab:
    • As a shinobi, Wolf can sneak up on enemies and backstab them with his katana, automatically killing them (although the noise may attract nearby enemies). It works exceptionally well against mini-bosses, who can be sneaked upon and backstabbed to instantly eliminate an entire health bar.
    • Happened to Wolf himself in the finale of his first memory of Hirata Estate, forcing Kuro to bind him to the Immortal Oath.
  • Badass Army: The Interior Ministry's armed forces are spoken of with dread by Ashina's soldiers. You see exactly why near the end of the game, when Isshin succumbs to his illness and they invade Ashina in force, curbstomping everything they encounter other than Wolf and the Demon of Hatred.
  • Balancing Death's Books: Wolf cheats death by involuntarily sucking portions of life force from those around him to restore his own, which manifests in his victims as the illness called Dragonrot.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: It happens for the second boss battle against Genichiro. Thanks to the rejuvenating waters, he survives the battle against Wolf and gets away.
    • The battle with Genichiro at the end of the tutorial, should you manage to defeat him. At this point in the story, Genichiro is still a normal human, and it's implied that Wolf may have the ability to resurrect at this point. Despite being dealt two Deathblows, the cutscene plays out in almost roughly the same manner, with Genichiro slicing off Wolf's arm and standing strong as if he hadn't taken any damage.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Happens frequently. The duels against Lady Butterfly, and later Great Shinobi Owl in the same room, take place in the burning secret room underneath the Hirata Estates. The battle against the Demon of Hatred takes place in front of the Ashina Castle Gate, surrounded by the burning wreckage of the Outskirts. Wolf can also get into several fights with invading Red Guard forces during their final assault on Ashina Castle, by which point the whole place is on fire.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final battle against Sword Saint Isshin takes place during a thunderstorm.
  • Beneath the Earth: Wolf can visit several caverns in the mountains, although they are home to monsters of all sorts. For instance, there is the Serpent Cave hidden at the bottom of the Sunken Valley, which is the lair of the Great Serpent and some other abominations. There are also several iron mines that are the property of the Ashina.
  • BFS: The massive, hideous warrior Jouzu the Drunkard wields a suitably sized poison-coated Ōdachi.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: While Genichiro is your Arch-Enemy throughout the game, he's only doing what he feels is necessary to stop the Interior Ministry from razing Ashina to the ground. Meanwhile, Great Shinobi Owl is still alive and playing both sides against each other so he can claim the Dragon's Heritage for himself and become God-Emperor of Japan.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Ashina Castle definitely qualifies.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies:
    • Large exploding crickets can be found in areas associated with infested people or creatures.
    • The infested themselves are hosts to huge Creepy Centipedes, allowing them to come back to life indefinitely after death. The monks of Senpou Temple are all infested, as is Hanbei the Undying and the Guardian Ape.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The Immortal Severance. Wolf and Kuro are able to end the Dragon Heritage, ensuring there's no more conflict over obtaining the immortality it grants. But it involves sacrificing Kuro, which Wolf reluctantly carries out.
    • Purification. Instead of killing Kuro, Wolf sacrifices his own life to ensure Kuro lives.
  • Blade Lock: In spite of the emphasis on sword fights, Sekiro only features this sparingly. One of the most notable moment is that if Wolf chooses to disavow the Owl - he tries a sneak attack on Wolf, who sniffs it out and blocks the blade fast enough to impress his old man. A brief blade lock happens too when Wolf performs a Deathblow on Isshin, who resists a bit and block the blade briefly.
  • Blade on a Stick:
    • Spearmen ranging from lowly ashigaru to mighty samurai are a common sight among Wolf's foes, and pose a particular challenge due to them tending to favor unblockable thrust attacks that must be dodged or deflected. However, Wolf can nullify much of their deadliness with the anti-thrust "Mikiri Counter" skill.
    • One of Wolf's Shinobi Prosthetics is the Loaded Spear. It is a blade that telescopes into a large spear, allowing him to attack enemies from further away or pull them in.
  • Blade Run: In a very Shadow of the Colossus-esque moment, you will mostly likely finish off the Divine Dragon by running up the blade of its skyscraper-sized BFS while it's downed and then stabbing it in the eye. Even if you choose to simply grapple to its eye instead, you'll still have to stand on its sword in order to deliver the final blow.
  • Blade Spam: The "One Mind" ability used by Isshin Ashina and usable by Wolf after defeating them. It creates a sphere of blade slashes around the user that are stated to be so fast that the swordsman looks like they're not even moving.
  • Blinded by the Light: One of prosthetic tools at Wolf's disposition is the Shinobi Firecracker, which launches a handful of exploding firecrackers, meant to destabilize enemies with sudden light and sound. It allows him to interrupt some otherwise unstoppable attacks and is particularly effective against beast type enemies which are easily frightened by it.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: A ton of in-game stuff is mistranslated or outright falsified by the translators. No, the Guardian Ape is not an ape- his name in Japanese is 獅子猿, which can be roughly translated as "Lion Monkey", and apes lack tails (which the "ape" has). More specific examples are given on the Character page, but suffice to say that the game has tons of this. A fanmade "Proofread" mod by E-Kon is available for the PC version that fixes most of the translation issues. It can be found here.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Wolf losing his arm in grisly detail at the game's start certainly sets a tone. Stealth kills and visceral attacks cause vast waves of blood to erupt from enemies - this game somehow manages to out-gore Bloodborne. One of the visual options is to have blood effects mild (read: realistic amounts of blood) or the default of On, which means everyone has High-Pressure Blood.
  • Body Horror: The Centipede Men have metal legs sticking out of their limbs and backs, mimicking a centipede's appendages. The sight is even more horrifying with their chieftains, the Long Arm Centipedes Sen-Un and Giraffe, who have their mangled bodies scaled up.
  • Body Motifs: A missing left arm. Some key characters and even supernatural creatures have had their left arm severed for various reasons. The Lone Shadows hide their left arms under a long cloak, mimicking this effect, and only unleash it when Wolf's careless and open to either poison or projectile attacks.
  • Book-Ends:
    • If Wolf makes choices that will benefit Kuro, the first and last boss battles in the game will happen on the same field just outside of Ashina's outskirts. Both will feature Genichiro as well.
    • The first "real" boss of the game (as in, it gives a Memory rather than a Prayer Bead) has the Red Baron nickname of "Gyoubu the Demon". At the end of the game, an optional Bonus Boss can be fought in the same place you fought Gyoubu... and it's an actual demon.
    • The first cutscene after the prologue had a background sound of wood being chipped and carved rhythmically. In one of the endings, it also starts with the exact same background sound, but made by a different person.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Wolf can unlock many flashy Combat Arts such as a Spin Attack and some high-flying martial arts moves, but the one most players find to be by far the most useful is Ichimonji, a.k.a. "hit with your sword really hard", and its upgraded version, "hit with your sword really hard twice". It does respectable damage to both health and Posture, recovers your own Posture on use, and can even be charged. Anything stronger tends to suffer from the Awesome, but Impractical caveat of costing Spirit Emblems to use.
    • While the various Prosthetic Tools all have their uses, the Shuriken will end up your go to general purpose tool. It's the first one you acquire, cheap to use, easily upgraded gaining a charge attack that costs no extra emblems, can pick off various weak enemies like gun-packing lookouts or dogs while keeping you at a stealth friendly distance, and even in New Game+, where the enemies become stronger, the charged version will continue to serve you well against them. To top it off, upgrading it to Lazulite form requires less of the exceedingly rare material than the others and will ease any fall-off the previous versions suffer from in NG+.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Genichiro Ashina wields both a bow and a katana, easily switching between the two on the fly.
  • Break Meter: One of the main gameplay mechanics. Wolf and all his enemies have what is called a Posture gauge, defining how much their guard has been broken. One way for Wolf to defeat enemies is to fill out their Posture bar with perfect deflects, attacks or other abilities, at which point they enter a special animation, leaving them vulnerable to a Finishing Move. Likewise, Wolf will be staggered for a sizable amount of time if his Posture is broken.
  • Broken Bridge: Literally; several prominent bridges leading into Ashina Castle proper have been destroyed, forcing Wolf to take a circuitous route through the Sunken Valley to get in. Since there are still Ashina ashigaru on both sides, it's implied they did it themselves to stymie any would-be invaders. In the finale of the game, the Interior Ministry fixes the main bridge and launches an all-out attack on Ashina Castle.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Sekiro and Emma are this, as to be expected of their occupations. There are times when Emma teases Sekiro for being so serious, but he doesn't even know that she's telling a joke. Her battle moniker is even "Emma, the Gentle Blade".
  • Brutish Bulls: Two of the bosses in this game, the Blazing Bull and the Sakura Bull, are bulls with fiery hay attached to their horns.
  • Bullfight Boss: Both the Blazing Bull and Sakura Bull are best fought by dodging their charge and hitting them in the side or rear, especially since they'll be momentarily stunned if they hit their head against a wall.
  • Call-Back: Once again in a FromSoft title, you face an opponent in a beautiful field under the moonlight.
  • Cannon Fodder: The ashigaru that make up the rank-and-file of the Ashina clan's forces and serve as the basic mooks of the game. When the Shogunate finally attacks, they barely even present a speed bump for the Ministry soldiers.
  • Cardboard Prison: Wolf starts off imprisoned in an underground cavern which he could have easily gotten out of if he wanted to, since the entrance is not sealed. The only reason why he already didn't escape long before Emma gives him the letter is that he had lost his will to live, as remarked on by surrounding guards and the Long Shadow Longswordsman.
  • Cast from Hit Points: If Wolf is low on Spirit Emblems, a special item named the Ceremonial Tanto allows him to convert part of his health into supplementary Spirit Emblems just like blood bullets.
  • Central Theme: Death in various shades. While death is always a theme in From Software's games, Sekiro displays it most prominently; Kuro's immortality is ruining more lives than it saves: those who desire it goes to inhuman lengths in obtaining it, while the mechanics of actual resurrection create a horrible, painful plague. Various characters find themselves tempted by the prospect of violence; even the gentle Emma mentions that killing a demon excites her. Wolf himself is shown to have little in his life beyond killing, and acquiring any of the good endings requires him to rediscover his innocence and kindness.
  • Checkpoint: The Sculptor's Idols are scattered across the world, serving as resting points for Wolf where he replenishes his Healing Gourd, manages his skill tree, and travel from idol to idol. Their presence everywhere is another hint toward Sculptor's real identity.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the rematch with Genichiro, you learn that if you're struck by his lightning-enhanced swipes while in midair, you can direct it back at him by the time you hit the floor. This is the major mechanic in damaging the Divine Dragon, as well as a smaller mechanic in Sword Saint Isshin's final phase.
  • Cocky Rooster: One of the enemies Wolf can face are large black roosters that will attack on sight and also crow, alerting enemies to his presence.
  • Combat Hand Fan: Divine Abduction is a Prosthetic Tool made from a large fan. While it isn't a conventional weapon, the gust of wind it releases when Wolf uses it is so strong it can turn an enemy on his back. The Double Abduction and Golden Vortex upgrades can even make certain enemies disappear on the spot.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In contrast to traditional depictions of samurai being excessively honorable, the samurai enemies that are fought in this game have no qualms with ganging up on the player, shooting him in the back, setting him on fire, or ambushing him. Indeed, both the Ashina and Interior Ministry troops in general will gladly use bombs, poison, trained yokai and any other means available to them to kill their foes.
    • Wolf himself is one, par excellence; as a Shinobi, you are expected to fight dirty at virtually every turn - most fights, while not outright unwinnable if you choose to engage directly, are far more difficult, and there are numerous opportunities to quietly assassinate enemies before the fight begins properly. This isn't even getting into the various Shinobi tools you can have fitted to your prosthetic, allowing you to take things to a whole new level.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard:
    • The Bestowal Ninjutsu only states that it extends your sword's reach. What it doesn't tell you is that it greatly increases your attack power and pierces through enemy defenses.
    • The game explains that Dragonrot is inflicted due to the recipient of the Dragon's Heritage forcibly draining the life energy of those around them in order to come back to life, with repeated deaths drawing power from more victims. However, the wording is ambiguous enough that some players chose to instantly die instead of reviving out of fear of acquiring additional Rot Essence. That is the opposite of what the game actually wants you to do; the revival mechanic is considered Wolf's own life energy (give or take the enemies he killed to restore a Resurrection node), so he can revive mid-battle as much as he wants. It is actually dying and being sent back to a Buddha statue that risks harming NPCs.
    • As described in the entry for Guide Dang It!, Divine Confetti is not just a requisite for fighting Apparition-type enemies; it is a legitimate damage buff in the same vein as the various Resins and Papers from the previous FROM games.
    • In what is likely a translation error, the Dragon's Blood Droplet item is rather vague with its ability to "slightly increase Resurrective Power". What it actually means is that you can consume it to get rid of the black line preventing additional resurrections post-revival, which normally requires performing a Deathblow to erase. This gives it surprising utility in some situations, such as the final phase of a boss fight.
  • Continuing Is Painful: If Wolf dies "for good", he loses half of his money and current experience. Moreover, a plague named the Dragonrot will eventually spread to almost every NPC he's met if he keeps dying too many times. The Dragonrot itself mechanically punishes Wolf by lowering his chances of keeping his experience and money upon death, and halts NPC quest lines as long as it's not cured.
  • Cool Sword: Kusabimaru is an heirloom of the Hirata family, but is otherwise a normal katana. Except... it can block nearly any attack without taking damage, including many that should logically shatter the blade.
  • Corrupt Church: The monks from Senpou Temple have strayed from Buddha's teachings and indulged in horrible experimentation to unlock the secret of immortality. Said experiments usually involve Creepy Centipedes and fusing them with various, often unwilling subjects. Wolf can pay them a visit and discover for himself how corrupt they have become, as some of the monks have become immortal abominations, host to various centipedes and crickets; he can also come across several semi-feral Centipede Men abominations (whom the monks may have been responsible for creating), and the Divine Child of Rejuvenation reveals that she is the only survivor of many children who have been experimented upon.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Poor Inosuke can't catch a break. The first time you meet him in contuity is during the Hirata Estate memory where he just finished fighting Lady Butterfly. Judging by his dialogue, he actually did well against her until he realized that she used illusions and he didn't have any snap seeds to counter it. Without them, he ends up with eyes gouged out either to escape the illusions or by Lady Butterfly herself. He then rested for a bit, found his practically catatonic with fear mother and escaped through the burning keep, down a 50 foot well with no ladder, and escaped with his life. However, he is disgraced for not protecting his liege, Kuro. He then spends the next three years in Ashina with his increasingly senile mother who was partially driven insane by Lady Butterfly's illusions. She starts thinking that other men are her, still very much alive son, which is kinda heartwarming, but also kinda depressing. Their house is then presumably hit by a siege weapon, destroying it and Inosuke is left grievously wounded either by whatever destroyed the house (probably the Interior Ministry's doing) or by the Ashina themselves (for being loyal to Kuro). He is left just out of reach of his mother who is too senile to realize her son is dying nearby. He refuses Wolf to bring him to a doctor and instead asks him to watch over his mother. Then, late game, his mother dies and he crawls his way into her house and dies miserably next to her corpse. Worse is that while Wolf will certainly remember him, he's not the type to spread the word out about him so Inosuke will have died forgotten probably without leaving any heirs to his family as he and his mother lived alone. Worse still if they catch dragon rot. If she catches it, he will hear her in misery and he will be absolutely distraught as he can't do anything about it as his legs have stopped working. If he catches it, his mother will hear him, but still not recognize her son to go help him and he will be in horrible agony from both his wounds and the disease. Either way, he will be in tears.
  • Curbstomp Battle: The Ministry invasion of Ashina at the end of the game is an utterly one-sided affair where most of Ashina's remaining troops are either cut down or burned to death with ease.
  • Curb-Stomp Cushion: Despite this, a few characters manage to kill large numbers of Ministry soldiers, namely Shume Masaji Oniwa, the Demon of Hatred, and, of course, Wolf.

    D-L 
  • Dance Battler: Lady Butterfly fights with grace for her age and uses dance-like moves and twirls when Wolf fights her. However, the most literal examples of this are the Okami Warriors, whose combat techniques seem to be directly inspired by traditional Japanese dances.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • In contrast to Souls titles, rolling is not the end-all, be-all to dodging attacks, due to extremely limited I-frames that won't protect you from grabs, sweeps, or thrust attacks (unless you have the Mikiri counter, in the latter case, but then you have to remember to dodge toward them). Your damage output, especially against bosses, is also considerably lower since they can block attacks typically, necessitating a careful battle of attrition until you can wear them down to the point of inflicting Deathblows. At the same time, parrying has returned to being more predictive than reactive.
    • Sekiro does not use a stamina system like the Souls games do, meaning Wolf can run, jump and attack infinitely with no downtime. This can take some getting used to, and it's not uncommon to hear about experienced "Soulsborne" veterans during the early game habitually backing off after dealing a few hits, and thus failing to keep the pressure on to break the enemy's posture.
  • Dark Fantasy: Just like past FromSoftware games, with some horror elements thrown in. Unlike previous settings though, it's set in a fantastical version of actual feudal Japan rather than a Constructed World based on European countries.
  • Deader Than Dead: What the Mortal Blade is used for, as it can permanently kill Immortal creatures, such as the Infested Monks and the Headless Ape.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Fountainhead Palace, home of the Divine Dragon and coveted font of immortality, turns out to be one of these. The place is beautiful, but its "nobles" are hideous monsters that either devour or enslave any humans who actually arrive there.
  • Death Is Cheap: Mechanics-wise, it is defied with a vengeance. Upon each death, the Dragonrot will continue to spread and get worse, affecting many characters and preventing the advancement of their sidequests.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: To perform a deathblow on enemies, Wolf has to deplete their Posture gauge, which recovers if the attack isn't pressed. However, damaging their Vitality meter will make the recovery of Posture slower. The end result being that a fight is typically won after dozens of small hits that manage to slip past the opponent's defenses, gradually weakening them before they're finally finished off.
  • Decomposite Character: This game's Big Bad Genichiro Ashina and his grandfather Isshin Ashina act as this to Gwyn from Dark Souls series. Just like Gwyn, Isshin Ashina is a lord of great renown and power who carved up mighty kingdom only for it to fall apart in his twilight years. Just like Gwyn, Genichiro Ashina goes to extreme measures to stave that fall.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • After reviving, the player's first instinct is probably to get some distance from the thing that killed them, and use a healing item to get back to full health. The thing is, Genichiro Ashina seems to know this, and if you try it, will line up an extra-powerful arrow shot. If the player knows that Genichiro Ashina knows this, they'll most likely be hammering the deflect button during the heal animation in a desperate attempt to avoid getting hit. The devs, knowing that the player knows that Genichiro knows, created a unique animation for when the player successfully deflects the arrow.
    • Somehow winning the first fight against Genchiro triggers a special cutscene where a hidden Nightjar will toss a shuriken at Wolf, distracting him long enough for Genchiro to still cut off his arm. Instead of his normal dialogue, he will instead say that a shinobi should understand the difference between honor and victory.
    • If you kill a merchant who happens to sell an important item, like skill texts or upgrades for the Prosthetic Arm, the item will find its way to the offering box at the Dilapidated Shrine for the same price.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Mikiri Counter is one of Wolf's strongest moves. If an enemy is going for a thrust-type Perilous Attack, Wolf can dodge into it to stomp on his enemy's weapon and deal massive damage to their Posture. This move is so strong that successfully mastering it can turn deadly engagements into child's play, especially since breaking an enemy's Posture allows you to perform a Shinobi Deathblow on them, shaving off a health bar or outright killing them instantly.
  • Disability Immunity: The powdered medicine known as Contact Poison can inflict a weak poison effect on Wolf. While it may seems useless, it is preferable to the stronger version some enemies or hazards will inflict, making Contact Poison situationally useful.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Hirata Estate, former home of Kuro. Alas, it was pillaged and burned down by bandits, at which point Wolf witnessed the death of his father, the Owl, and was granted Resurrective Immortality by Kuro for his loyalty. Wolf can revisit a memory of the Estate while it was burning into cinders.
  • Downer Ending: The Shura ending, where Wolf is corrupted by the Dragon Heritage and becomes the demon Shura, mercilessly slaughtering anybody who steps foot in Ashina.
  • Dramatic Thunder:
    • During the second boss fight against Genichiro, a thunderstorm starts. Genichiro takes advantage of its lighting to imbue his weapons with the element.
    • The final boss battle also happens during a storm, Isshin using the lightning of Tomoe to power up his katana and halberd, while Wolf is forced to consider the lightning as a stage hazard.
  • The Dreaded:
    • A few times throughout the story, players learn about "Shura." In Buddhism, it is one of the alternate names for Ashura, the demigod of war. For Japanese folklore, the war god is often used to refer to individuals who are fighting in a seemingly endless battle and must do so with brutal and inhuman means. You don't get to see the Shura, but you do get a glimpse of those who "become" Shura in the Downer Ending, in which Wolf, having been forced to follow his father's order to kill Kuro after spending nearly the entire game trying to save him and killing one of his own allies as a result, goes on a mindless killing spree and commits what's considered to be the most tragic massacre in the entire Sengoku period. To put it in simpler terms, the Shura is a demon that cannot be allowed to manifest. Even Isshin Ashina is wary of the damn thing and has more or less made it his life goal to kill anyone who is on the verge of being consumed by Shura before it's allowed to manifest.
    • On a more human scale, the Interior Ministry's encroaching presence is talked about with a lot of fear. When they do show up, several Ashina soldiers can be seen fleeing in terror from them.
    • During the Ministry's invasion of Ashina, Wolf becomes this to them, acquiring a reputation as an unkillable demon. Even worse than him is the Demon of Hatred, and it isn't hard to see why, since by the time you encounter it, it's just finished effortlessly butchering an entire contingent of Red Guard elites.
  • Dual Boss: After defeating the Guardian Ape the first time, Wolf can find it in a new location and fight it again. After depleting its first health bar, it calls in its wife for backup, and Wolf will then have to deal with two giant, murderous apes at the same time.
  • Dung Fu: The Guardian Ape can leap into the air and hurl a massive boulder of its own crap at Wolf that inflicts Poison.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Wolf can kill the same Great Serpent who harasses you near the beginning of the game, despite it being revered as a god by the people of Ashina. Doing so is necessary to get the "Return" ending.
    • Another example happens late in the game: through his journey, Wolf fights and defeats the Divine Dragon itself. Although defeated, the Divine Dragon doesn't actually die, although presumably Wolf could have killed it, it was unnecessary as he only needed his tears.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Just after defeating Gyoubu Oniwa, Wolf can come across a tall masked man presenting himself as the Tengu of Ashina, said man having just defeated some unknown shinobi in purple garb. It turns out, the Tengu of Ashina is none other than Isshin himself, who meets Wolf before the shinobi even hears about him. The scene also foreshadows the invasion of Ashina Castle by forces of the Shogun, and Tengu is retroactively revealed to have been slaying their scouts.
  • Early Game Hell: Used to great extent to punish players who rely on Dark Souls tactics to get by. Your Estus equivalent only carries one charge at the start, it will take a while for you to get it up to three, and you can only carry around three of the Lifegem equivalent at a time. The only way to get stronger is defeat bosses, which cannot be purely stealth affairs either. And to top it all off, your stealth isn't even all that useful until you get a couple of upgrades for it.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Navigating areas is much easier compared to prior From Software games due to Wolf's expanded moveset, which enables him to avoid direct combat by stealth-killing enemies, running away from them, or avoiding them entirely. Checkpoints are frequent and are often placed right next to the boss arena. This is counter-balanced by the bosses being much harder and aggressive. Mandatory bosses block progress to the next area until defeated, and you're incentivized to kill optional bosses as they hold most of the prayer beads needed to increase your Vitality.
  • Easy Level Trick: Notably, Sekiro features many ways to make its most difficult encounters far easier, and the game rewards experimentation and logical thinking a great deal. One of the best examples of this is that many of the bosses are vulnerable to stealth Deathblows, which can shave off an entire life bar with one well planned attack. Even then, many of the consumable items can tear bosses to pieces, such as Snap Seeds making Lady Butterfly's illusions go away or Divine Confetti shaving off the health of Apparitions.
  • Edge Gravity: Unlike its predecessors, this game has a jump button, which means you won't go off a ledge without jumping over it deliberately.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • Besides the miniboss versions, there are also several "regular" Ashina samurai who are fierce fighters in their own right, in both the armored and unarmored variety.
    • The Spear Adepts of Senpou Temple are highly agile fighters with a large HP pool and a variety of unblockable attacks.
    • At the end of the game, the Interior Ministry invades Ashina Castle with a force of highly skilled Red Guard warriors. They are clad in distinct red armor and all armed with dual katanas, with some also carrying flamethrowers or powerful guns that shoot flaming rockets. They are also backed up by the deadly purple-clad Lone Shadow ninjas, as well as red-clad dwarf assassins.
  • Enemy Chatter: Wolf can eavesdrop on his foes, allowing him to learn useful hints for dealing with an upcoming foe or area. It also tends to reveal bits of the lore or even just the enemies' feelings and general mindset. For instance, he can hear a Ashina footsoldier weeping over his dead horse - his lamentations will provide a hint on defeating the area's boss.
  • Enemy Civil War: After Wolf acquires the Shelter Stone from Mibu Village, he will revisit Ashina Castle under assault from the Interior Ministry's forces. These new enemies will also battle the Ashina soldiers, creating some three-way battles.
  • Equipment Upgrade: Wolf can collect various objects scattered across the map to unlock new Prosthetic Tools for his left arm. He can also gather other materials such as ore or chemicals to further upgrade said tools.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer: Played straight with every projectile round used by Wolf's enemies, including Sword Saint Isshin's pistol. Justified since it would be asking too much for the player to dodge incoming invisible fire in a game that's as already Nintendo Hard as it is.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Some of the enemies are Japanese macaques, who only attack Wolf because he is intruding in their territory. He can come across a whole troop of them gathered around a single spot. Some monkeys even wield katanas and muskets, including rarely encountered white monkeys who dual-wield katanas with masterful skill that puts even the Interior Ministry soldiers to shame. One boss is a giant ape that, naturally, uses Dung Fu attacks in combat.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Though initially seeming unconnected, many of the characters you encounter turn out to have a shared past, which becomes apparent when you give sake to the Sculptor, Emma or Isshin Ashina.
  • Escape Rope: The Homeward Idol allows Wolf to teleport to either the Dilapidated Shrine or the last Sculptor's Idol used, as long as he is not hit while doing so.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Even putting aside the demons and mutated animals, Wolf is often dwarfed by his human opponents as well. This is likely a gameplay consideration for players to be able to read the enemies' movements better.
  • Evil Is Easy: The Shura ending is the easiest ending to get, simply requiring you to obey Owl when he reappears in Ashina Castle and then win two fights. Doing so skips the entire last act of the game, and the final battles against Emma and Isshin are significantly easier than the final boss battle against Sword Saint Isshin in the other endings. It's also deliberately anticlimactic as a way of saying "You Bastard!" to the player, offering no resolution for any of the plot threads up to that point.
  • Expy: The centipedes infecting the Undying bring to mind the Vermin of Bloodborne, which are also centipedes associated with kegare (spiritual defilement) that can be found within the bodies of the unclean.
    • Speaking of centipedes, the Centipede enemy type and their boss variant, the Long-Armed Centipedes, verge on being a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of Voldo from the Soul Series, with both being insane contortionists who fight via wrist-mounted claws and only vocalize in strained grunting noises. They even sport a Bandage Mummy aesthetic, similar to Voldo's SoulCalibur II appearance.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Wolf can use a drug named Bite Down, which usually was a Cyanide Pill of a sort for captured shinobi. However, due to his resurrective powers, he can use it to "fake" his death without consuming one of his resurrections. You can even get an infinite use version in the form of a Hidden Tooth, obtained after using the Mortal Blade to permanently kill Hanbei the Undying.
    • Wolf discovers that Great Shinobi Owl has been faking his death too, setting events in motion so that he could take the Dragon's Heritage for himself at the right moment.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. The Ashina clan has access to firearms and they make liberal use of them against you, with many of their Ashigaru using tanegashima matchlock muskets. Even Isshin Ashina, the clan patriarch renowned primarily as an unmatched swordsmen, has no qualms about pulling out a gun in the middle of a duel. There's also the Sunken Valley clan, whose Weapon of Choice is a more primitive but no less deadly hand cannon; some of them even carry around full-sized cannons without a sweat.
  • Fantasy World Map: A wall scroll-style map of Ashina can be accessed from the fast travel screen. It's not very useful for navigation, but it does show you where places like Fountainhead Palace and Sunken Valley are in relation to the rest of the world.
  • Fartillery: The Guardian Ape will sometimes attempt to run away and get some distance between itself and Wolf, leaving behind a fart cloud that inflicts Poison.
  • Fat Bastard:
    • The Headless minibosses, who all resemble bloated, waterlogged corpses. They are former heroes of Ashina, their corpses having all ended up in wet areas.
    • Human examples give Juzou the Drunkard, Tokujiro the Glutton, and Shigekichi of the Red Guard. All three are basically palette swaps of each other, but are huge, fat men with huge swords and who also use sake in battle with you, either by using it to poison or burn Wolf.
  • Fetch Quest:
    • To have his ties to immortality severed, Lord Kuro needs several exceptional ingredients. It's up to Wolf to travel the country and gather them.
    • The Divine Child of the Resurrection has her own quest to unlock the Return ending, all requiring certain items to be collected and returned to her. Some of the subquests also require fetching an item in exchange for the one you're trying to get.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Genichiro ultimately wants to save Ashina from being conquered by the Interior Ministry.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Whatever path you take in the game, the last boss you'll face will be a version of Isshin Ashina, the only member of the Ashina who is explicitly against Genichiro's plan to sacrifice Kuro. However, in the "Shura" ending, your decision to betray Kuro will for all intents and purposes turn you into a bloodthirsty demon, forcing Isshin to try to strike you down to save Ashina from you the carnage you would otherwise cause. In all the other endings, Isshin will be dead by the time the game enters its last phase; however, Genichiro will use the Black Mortal Blade and sacrifice his own life to bring his grandfather back from the dead in his prime, as a desperate last attempt to defeat Wolf and seize Kuro. Isshin is still implied to disagree with Genichiro's plans even after that, but will decide to honor his last wish nonetheless and fight Wolf to the death.
  • Filk Song: Rebirth, Courtesy of Miracle of Sound.
  • Finishing Move: One of the game's core mechanics is that to kill an enemy, the player can fill out a Posture gauge (representing how much the enemy's guard has been broken) before performing a Shinobi Deathblow on them. Incidentally, depleting the enemy's health bar also creates a Deathblow opportunity, but failing to take it results in the Posture of the enemy recovering a bit. The Deathblow immediately kills a normal enemy and depletes a single health bar from a boss. However, it should be noted that the Posture gauge tends to recover quickly if the enemy has a lot of health left, and bosses usually require multiple Deathblows to put down.
  • Flash Step: The Mist Raven prosthetic tool allows Wolf to perform one, leaving on his wake a dark trail and raven feathers. It is used to perform invulnerable dodges in order to get away from troublesome situations. It can be further upgraded to the Aged Feather Mist Raven to perform the dodge even more rapidly, or the Great Feather Mist Raven to create a fiery trail that hurts enemies.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: The Divine Realm that Wolf can visit to battle the Divine Dragon that resides within it. It is mostly a grey plane whose floor is made of clouds, making it difficult to judge perspective.
  • Flunky Boss: On her second phase, Lady Butterfly will occasionally retreat and summon illusory enemies to fight you.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: By taking a secret passage back at the Ashina Outskirts to the Senpou Temple, Wolf can toll the Iron Bell of Senpou, calling the demon sealed within which brings misfortune. It mostly serves to increase the difficulty of the game in exchange for better loot, and the demon can be warded away by an item.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Upon killing Owl, Wolf will remark, "Death of a shadow." Since the game is called "Shadows Die Twice", this line is probably meant as a hint to the player that there is an optional second encounter with this boss.
    • There's a subtle, but two-fold one at the very beginning of the game when you get your sword from Kuro. The Kusabimaru's mantra found in its description, 'A shinobi's role is to kill, but even a shinobi must not forget mercy', provides a hint towards the first major story branch. By forsaking mercy and abandoning Kuro, Wolf becomes a Shura that ravages all of Ashina. By showing mercy, Wolf stays on his lord's path to sever the Dragon's Heritage. Additionally, the most optimistic ending comes from finding a way to avoid having to sacrifice either Kuro or Wolf to sever the Dragon's Heritage.
    • After defeating Genichiro and reuniting with Kuro, the boy then asks Wolf to help him with severing his immortality and the game gives you the choice to either help him with his wish or adhere to the Iron Code regardless of his request. While the game refuses to allow you to disobey the Iron Code, Kuro still talks Wolf into helping him. The whole scene foreshadows your later confrontation with Owl, where you will have to make a permanent choice on one side or the other.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The two final bosses of the non-Shura endings both wield the second Mortal Blade, which (as shown in its effects on Kuro) should nullify Wolf's Resurrection ability. However, the player can still revive themselves should they be cut down by said bosses, which is probably for the best considering how difficult Sword Saint Isshin in particular is.
  • Gang Up on the Human: During the war sequence at the end of the game, it's not uncommon for the warring Ashina and Interior Ministry troops to set aside their differences just to kick your ass if you intervene in their fights. Specifically, enemies will generally prioritize whoever most recently attacked them during multi-sided melees.
  • Gargle Blaster: Monkey Booze, made by chance out of fermented fruits that were hidden in tree trunks by monkeys. Its flavour is described as being exceptionally strong, enough to knock experienced boozehounds like the Sculptor and Isshin on their ass. It also goes by another nickname more indiciative of its strength: Shura's Wine, implying it's strong enough to get even a demon drunk.
  • Glass Cannon: Wolf. As a shinobi, he mixes acrobatic movement with quick, decisive attacks, but his light armor means he can't take too many hits.
  • Godzilla Threshold: With the Ashina clan on its last legs against the Interior Ministry, Genichiro and his followers are willing to commit countless heresies and atrocities just for a chance at victory.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The "Praying Strikes" Combat Art allows Wolf to unleash a series of rapid attacks with his arms and elbows, dealing unblockable Posture damage.
  • Goomba Stomp: Wolf can perform a Jump Kick which lets him stomp on enemies' heads. Normally it doesn't do much except stun the enemy momentarily, but if the enemy is in the process of doing a sweep attack, it will do significant Posture damage.
  • Golden Ending: Surprisingly, it is possible to circumvent Kuro's or Wolf's Heroic Sacrifice by having The Divine Child absorb Kuro's soul and journey west to return the Dragon Heritage to the Divine Dragon's birthplace. Reaching that ending, however...
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: A key gameplay feature is Wolf's prosthetic grappling hook, which adds a vertical element to exploration and can be used to zip toward enemies. This is probably the biggest artifact revealing this game's Tenchu roots. The grappling hook can be used on specific anchor points of trees of roofs, allowing Wolf to reach vantage points, and several parts of the game will require multiple well-timed uses of the grappling hook on these anchor points to navigate through the mountains and not fall to his death.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Interior Ministry is a constant, menacing presence in the background; their impending invasion of Ashina drives the plot, as their army's overwhelming superiority compared to Ashina's is the driving force behind Genichiro's plot.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Due to a big case of Artificial Stupidity, guards get out of alert state after Wolf disappears from view for a bit, and can easily miss a ninja in an orange haori hiding in tall green grass.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The "Purification" ending requires getting the Aromatic Flower, the path to which only opens if you eavesdrop during specific times on Kuro, Emma, and the Sculptor. While the eavesdropping mechanic itself is explained very early on, some people might not expect that you can also eavesdrop on friendly NPCs, and it's tricky to figure exactly which characters you need to eavesdrop on, and when.
    • Getting the "Return" ending is a doozy. For one thing, you have to get the Divine Child of Rejuvenation to produce rice enough times that she falls asleep, then you'll need to get rice from her one more time, after which she asks you for a persimmon. The game doesn't mention that she only produces rice when you have none in your inventory, as her dialogue seems to instead imply that it's produced based on the passage of in-game time, so if you're not one to use consumable items, this ending is very easy to miss. It's also easy to miss a key item that starts the questline, as it can be only obtained by either talking to a monk in Senpou Temple who will permanently disappear if you talk to Kuro after defeating Genichiro, or (if said monk has disappeared) diving in the pond near the Temple Grounds Idol.
    • One very helpful thing the game never tells you? Divine Confetti does extra damage to every enemy, not just Apparitions.
    • There are some hidden passageways located all around Ashina, with no indication where they are aside from the obvious one in Kuro's room. Locating them all is nearly impossible without accidentally stumbling on them or with a guide.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Averted. The setting features primitive, inaccurate matchlocks that deal little damage (unless you're in the air), but they can stun Wolf and leave him open to more dangerous attacks. Gunners of the Sunken Valley clan wield surprisingly powerful hand cannons that deal heavy damage from afar, which is quite a pain when several snipers are set on each side of a valley with steep cliffs and few hiding spots. The gunmen of Interior Ministry carry matchlocks that fire powerful flaming rockets.
  • The Gunslinger: The Sunken Valley clan. Having fortified an iron mine into their personal fort, they are sitting on a literal mountain's worth of ammunition. All of them use firearms of some variety: most use archaic but powerful one-shot hand cannons, with some bundling them together like a primitive shotgun, while a few (mostly those working for the Ashina) even carry literal cannons. The most redoubtable of them are the Snake Eyes Shirahagi and Shirafuji, who are so skilled with their hand cannons, they can mix up their shots with melee strikes.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first third of the game is based around breaking into Ashina Castle to rescue Kuro. The last two thirds deal with Sekiro trying to find a way to break his lord's immortality.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Wolf can keep a fistful of ash in his inventory, throwing it at an enemy to temporarily blind them.
  • Healing Potion: The Healing Gourd, a special item given to you by Lord Kuro. It was invented by Emma who discovered the Gourd Seeds that constantly leak the Rejuvenating Waters, and Wolf can take a sip of the water inside the gourd to heal. It is similar to the Estus Flasks of Dark Souls, in that it has a set number of uses that replenishes at checkpoints. The Healing Gourd can be upgraded with Gourd Seeds that magically replenish the supply of rejuvenating water in the gourd, and the more seeds one finds, the more sips Wolf can take from the Gourd before it runs out.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subtle, but present since you don't quite know that you're doing it. If you give Monkey Booze to Isshin, Wolf will ask what a Shura is, and Isshin explains that it's a person who's killed so many that they've not only gotten used to it, but have basically fallen into a neverending bloodlust from it. If you have not confronted Owl atop Ashina Castle, Isshin will state that he sees the shadow of Shura in Wolf's eyes, and promises to cut him down if he becomes one. If you have already dueled and defeated Owl, he will instead say that he thought he saw the shadow of Shura, but that he must have been mistaken. Prior to agreeing to help Kuro with Immortal Severence, you've basically been murdering anyone and everyone in your way, treading a very thin and very dangerous line story-wise. Choosing to help Kuro shows that Wolf is still fighting for Kuro, rather than killing for its' own sake.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kuro wishes to get rid of the Dragon's Heritage so that no one will murder for it anymore. However, it will either require Wolf to kill Kuro, which the boy readily accepts, or Wolf to kill himself with another ingredient in hand to free Kuro from immortality.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Executing enemies results in a glorious splash of blood flowing as Wolf takes out his blade. There's even a perk that allows him to use enemy's blood for creating a smokescreen.
  • Hint System: Eavesdropping is largely meant for this (though it also lets you solve some sidequests). A man crying over his dead horse (an accident involving a loud explosion spooking the beast) is your clue that someone else on a horse coming up might not like loud noises...
  • Historical Fantasy: It might be a fantasy story with magic, giant monsters and ninja prosthetics, but according to the game's intro, Sekiro is set in the later stages of Japan's Sengoku period, and further examination into the subject reveals that much of the game takes inspiration from the real-life Ashina clan.
  • History Repeats: Heavily implied, since many hints point toward the Sculptor being a former shinobi, with Wolf taking up his mantle as if he completes the Immortal Severance route, waiting for a future shinobi to rescue another lord blessed with the Dragon's Heritage.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: Many of the things associated with the Fountainhead Palace are referred to as divine, such as the Divine Confetti that allows you to damage supernatural enemies. But water from the palace turns people into monsters, while the Dragon's Heritage itself can corrupt men into bloodthirsty demons.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The tutorial boss fight against Genichiro is lost as soon as he breaks your posture once. It's possible (though difficult, especially on a first playthrough) to win, but all that nets you is a slight variation of the followup cutscene, where Genichiro is slightly more wounded and winded and needs a distraction (courtesy of a shuriken tossed by a nearby Nightjar) before he's able to slice off Wolf's arm.
  • Hopeless War: The Ashina clan are engaged in one against the Shogunate. While they've managed to fend off several attacks by the Interior Ministry (as shown by the massive field of corpses outside Ashina Castle), they're steadily losing ground and are running low on resources and manpower. The vast majority of their remaining troops are relatively unskilled ashigaru, their collective morale is almost at its breaking point, and their fortifications are largely in ruins. This has driven them to desperate measures, from training ogres and giant bulls to fight for them, all the way to kidnapping the Divine Heir to make themselves unkillable. And when the Interior Ministry finally attacks, it all ends up being fruitless, with Ashina's forces being utterly crushed in a brutal Curbstomp Battle.
  • Hub Level: The Dilapidated Shrine serves as this in the same way as the Firelink Shrine in Dark Souls III, connecting to the Ashina Outskirts and Kuro's room after you unlock the shortcut.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: Both Jinsuke Saze and Ujinari Mizuo are this. In their case, the technique serves as their primary attack and, if not flawlessly parried, can shave off up to 70% of your health even on block. Parrying the attack will ruin their stamina however, making it a Death-or-Glory Attack.
  • Immortal Breaker: The Mortal Blade can kill otherwise immortal beings. Problem is that everyone who's ever tried to draw the sword from its sheath has immediately died. Fortunately for Wolf, death is not permanent for him.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: There are normal humans who are skilled with the katana (Wolf himself able to parry bullets if the player has the necessary reflexes), but then there is Isshin Ashina, the Sword Saint. When you happen to fight him, he demonstrates supreme swordfighting skill, using Blade Spam to create an impenetrable sphere around him or casually making shockwaves with a slash of his katana. Wolf can learn these too after he defeats him.
  • In the Back: At the end of the Hirata Estate memory, Wolf is stabbed in the back by an unknown assailant. However, a sharp-viewed player can recognize the Owl's large katana.
  • Invulnerable Civilians: Attacks to NPCs simply phase through them with a visual indicator that they're taking no damage.
  • Jidaigeki: The setting is feudal Japan with some fantasy and science-fiction elements such as a Grappling-Hook Pistol prosthetic arm.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Or Infinity +1 Prosthetic. The four final-tier prosthetics are among the strongest in the game, with each eliminating a core weakness of the normal versions, turning them into a downright deadly way to circumvent enemy weaknesses. The main downside is that the only way to craft them is with Lapis Lazuli, of which only six can be found in per playthrough. This means you can only craft two of them if you're not on New Game+.
    • The Lazulite Axe punches through guards to deal chip damage, and will also function as a Snap Seed by dispelling illusions upon hit.
    • The Lazulite Shuriken does damage through guard, allowing the user to deal respectable damage at range. It can also punch through enemies if charged up all the way, making it an effective tool for dealing with crowds.
    • The Lazulite Sacred Flame trades out fire damage for holy damage, allowing it to be effective against Apparitions.
    • The Lazulite Sabimaru causes poison clouds to seep out of every hit, ensuring that enemies won't be able to guard against the poison.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Owl will do this in his boss fight, begging for mercy after the first deathblow. Waiting too long will have him pounce on Wolf and do massive damage. Attacking him while he's talking will cause Owl to resume the fight and compliment Wolf for seeing through the bluff.
  • In Vino Veritas: Wolf can acquire four types of sake and give them to either Tengu, Emma or the Sculptor, who all gladly have a cup and will in their relaxed state of mind reveal specific pieces of their past, as well as bits of lore.
  • Kaiju: The, for lack of a better word, rope golem that takes you to Fountainhead Palace near the end of the game. Its waist is literally above the cloudline.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Since the setting is Sengoku Era Japan, katanas and assorted blades are common weapons, wielded by Wolf and the many enemies he faces during the course of the game.
  • Kill It with Fire: All red-eyed enemies and those corrupted by waters of the Fountain fear fire, and inflicting fire damage will stun them for a moment as they get terrified by it. Thus, it is recommended to equip the Flame Vent when expecting to face such enemies.
  • Kite Riding: The roofs of Ashina castle are guarded by Nightjar ninjas, who sometimes ride kites and can spot Wolf from afar thanks to their "vantage point". They also happen to let themselves fall and rapidly glide toward Wolf for a violent Dynamic Entry.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At one point, Kuro asks Wolf and by extension the player how many times he's died, before musing to himself that the number might be too high to count.
  • Level in Boss Clothing: The Folding Screen Monkeys barely attack you. Instead you have to track them down and take each of them out using the tricks available in the Hall of Illusions.
  • Life Drain: Wolf can learn a skill where he regenerates part of his health after dealing a Deathblow to enemies.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Hidetaka Miyazaki's previous titles, thematically Sekiro is borderline sunny. While there's a ton of bloodshed, the characters who die at the end of their quest lines typically Go Out with a Smile, having fulfilled some form of unfinished business. The Historical Fantasy setting at least ensures the world isn't on the brink of dying anytime soon. And most unexpectedly of all, it's possible to Earn Your Happy Ending (depending on how you interpret the "Return" ending, anyways).
  • Lightning Bruiser: Many of the bosses and minibosses are larger than Wolf, but move with grace and agility. A prime example is Great Shinobi Owl, who appears hunched and bulky but can rapidly maneuver around the battlefield.
  • Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition: These are the two major offensive elements used in the game, and happen to occur the most on opposing sides of the overall conflicts:
    • Fire is associated with humanity, accessible through both technological advancements and magical means. Wolf himself has many fiery gadgets at his disposal, the most obvious being his Flame Vent prosthetic tool, while the Interior Ministry is packing alchemical rockets and flamethrowers used for burning Ashina to the ground. Sculptor mutates into a flaming demon powered by resentment and the lingering grudges of the dead. The Great Shinobi Owl was once capable of summoning an owl familiar that can transform into a divebombing firebird.
    • Lightning is associated with divinity; a part of Ashina was supposedly blessed by the gods, and the Fountainhead Palace was eventually built there. Those who call it home (or those whose ancestors descended from there, including Genichiro and Isshin), are capable of channeling electricity into their attacks. The presence of the Divine Dragon itself can be felt through the constant thunderclouds enveloping Fountainhead Spiral.
  • Loot Command: You can push a single button to remotely collect everything slain enemies can drop, skipping the tedium tediousness of collecting loot from one foe at a time.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • The most obvious instance of this trope is probably the meaning behind "Sekiro", the game's title and the nickname that Tengu of Ashina gives Wolf upon their first meeting. The word is made up of the kanji 隻 ("one half" (of a pair)) and 狼 ("wolf"), obviously referencing Wolf's lost arm.
    • The architecture of the Fountainhead Palace and the appearance of its inhabitants are a throwback to the classical Heian era of Japanese history. This is reflected by the fact that the area is named Minamoto (源, "source-of-the-water") in Japanese, a reference that ends up obscured in the English localization.
    • The Divine Dragon is referred to in Japanese/Chinese as "櫻龍", literally meaning "Sakura Dragon".
    • The titles of two of the Long Shadow agents - namely Longswordsman and Masanaga the Spear-Bearer - would probably be more accurately translated as "Swordfeet" (太刀足, "Tachiashi") and "Masanaga the Spearfoot" (槍足の正長, "Yariashi no Masanaga") respectively, referencing the deadliness of their kicks.
    • In the original Japanese, O'Rin refers to Jinzaemon as "あの子" (ano ko), roughly meaning "that boy" when used to refer to an adult male, often in a parental sense.
    • The names of the Sugars/Spiritfalls directly describe their effects; for example, "Gokan" (吽護) roughly means "sturdy body", fitting for an item that reduces the amount of Posture damage taken. However, these are left untranslated in the localizations.
    • The original Japanese names of Juzou the Drunkard (うわばみの重蔵, "Uwabami no Juzō") and Tokujiro the Glutton (牛飲の徳次郎, "Gyūin no Tokujirō") would be more literally translated as "Juzou the (Great) Serpent" and "Tokujiro Who Drinks Like a Cow". In this case however, the English translators did manage to mostly convey the intended meaning of these titles, as "Uwabami" is indeed used as a common term for "Drunkard" in Japanese, while "Gyūin" is generally used to mean something akin to "Drinks Gluttonously".
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: One of the Prosthetic Tools you can use is the Loaded Umbrella, a foldable metal umbrella that serves a shield against all attacks, ranging from projectiles to Perilous Attacks, but costs Spirit Emblems to use. Upgrading it allows the Umbrella to protect Wolf completely from certain status effects, specific types of attacks, or be used as an Attack Reflector.

    M-Z 
  • Magical Flutist: Some of the Palace Nobles can be found playing flutes, which they use to perform sorcery. The first of them, the "Mist Noble", can be found in a valley conjuring an Ominous Fog and illusions of enemies within it. Others can be found in the Fountainhead Palace.
  • Magitek: The Shinobi Prosthetic appears entirely mechanical, but the Universal Ammunition it uses are paper talismans born of regret, and later upgrades to its gadgets impart mystical abilities to it like flame that burns apparitions or that use alchemy, so it clearly runs off of more than science as we know it.
  • Malevolent Masked Men:
    • The black-caped samurai of the Interior Ministry wear fearsome red masks.
    • The Okami warriors in the Fountainhead Palace are all masked to hide their inhuman nature. However, their abnormal blue limbs already expose their monstrosity.
  • Mana: How Spirit Emblems work - these paper totems infused with souls and negative karma are what is used to power Wolf's Shinobi Prosthetic, advanced Combat Arts, Ninjutsu Techniques, and Spiritfall items. Because Wolf can only hold a limited amount at a time before needing to rest at an idol, players must be considerate about how they allocate resources and expend Spirit Emblems most effectively.
  • Marathon Boss: Both final boss fights have you fight against two different bosses in quick succession. The Shura ending has a one phase battle against Emma followed by a two phase fight against Lord Isshin, while the other endings have a one phase fight against Genichiro followed by a three phase fight against Sword Saint Isshin. In both cases, dying at any point will force you to repeat the entire battle from the beginning, just like the Nameless King in Dark Souls III.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The memory of Hirata Estate that you travel to might just be Sekiro reminiscing, but there seems to be more to it than that, since you gain items and experience for going there (even retrieving key items from there that you can't find in the present.) It's not straight Mental Time Travel either as, late game, you have the option of getting someone else's memento of that time and events and enemies shuffle around. It's subjective and completely real at the same time.
  • Menu Time Lockout: Unlike FromSoftware's previous titles, Sekiro plays it straight - when you access the menu, time stops completely.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • You can give a mercy kill to Hanbei the Undying and grant his wish to finally end his life. This loses you a training partner, but it gives you an item that lets you fake your death.
    • In the Immortal Severance ending, Wolf gives one to the dying Kuro in order to fulfill the latter's wish of severing the Dragon's Heritage.
  • Mind Manipulation: Wolf can learn the Puppeteer Technique, allowing him to mind control enemies he's backstabbed and turn them into temporary allies before they die. This technique is actually the key to unlocking a few secret paths.
  • Mini-Boss: The game features a large variety of mid-bosses who, like regular bosses, tend to have multiple health bars and must be taken down by depleting their poise meter and using visceral attacks. Usually, they are particularly skilled human warriors.
  • Minus World: As demonstrated by this video, there is a big Minus World hidden in Sekiro that allows you, among other things to fight the Folding Screen Monkeys without the need to fight Genichiro first and, after obtaining the Mibu Breathing Technique, to reach the Fountainhead Palace by messing with the walls of the arena in which you fight the Guardian Ape, skipping it, all the bosses in between and some bosses thereafter. Accessing it, however, comes with the risk of breaking your save.
  • Mirror Boss: The Great Shinobi Owl is a shinobi who uses some of the same tools that Wolf has in conjunction with his katana, making his fighting style very reminiscent of Wolf himself. He even imitates Wolf's revive ability, offering a fake surrender after being downed, hoping to retaliate when his opponent thinks they've won.
  • Money Multiplier: The Mibu Balloons of Wealth increases the amount of sen Wolf gets upon a kill. Other Mibu items improve item drops, Spirit Emblem gain, and the speed at which your Resurrective Power refills.
  • Mook Maker: Some of the priests of Senpou Temple act like hosts for locusts and can produce them indefinitely. Locusts can swarm Wolf and prevent him from locking on more dangerous enemies.
  • Mooks: Local ashigaru (semi-professional foot soldiers) swell the ranks of the Ashina, and are led by the far more dangerous samurai. Individual ashigaru can be killed with ease, but they can be a surprising challenge in groups - and they are almost never stationed alone, so stealth is the best option to thin their ranks before engaging.
  • Motifs:
    • Immortality is the story's central focal point in terms of themes and messages, and much of the game is spent exploring this concept and its potential pitfalls. The absence of death is represented in-game in one of two ways - the first is to become "infested", which causes a centipede to burrow itself inside its host and reanimate it from within upon death. Those who know about Shintoism will pick up on the fact that centipedes are a symbol of kegare, a concept that relates to moral/spiritual decay. The other is to become associated with the Divine Dragon and its blood, which carries its own baggage - if it doesn't mutate you into a horrific Half-Human Hybrid of man and carp, then it will still age you to the point where you're forced into a symbiotic relationship with the Dragon itself. Either way, Immortality is treated as a bad prospect despite the benefits within the narrative, as even those blessed with the Dragon Heritage still run the risk of either killing those around them or having their blood be used to make men into literal demons. It's telling that in three of the four endings, Kuro and Wolf reject Immortality, as both see it as far too dangerous for any one man to have.
    • Adoptive familial bonds, which affects three characters in different ways and levels. Wolf, Emma, and Genichiro were all taken in after being orphaned by war, inheriting most of their foster family's skills and knowledge. Yet, they each find a different way to confront their familial responsiblity in their adulthood.
      • Rejection: Wolf, despite being trained extensively as a shinobi by Owl and Butterfly, ends up refusing to follow their paths and desires. He fights and kills the latter, despite then not knowing her motives, and he betrays Owl's expectations of him in all four endings to varying degrees.
      • Balanced: Raised by Dogen and the Sculptor, Emma had a strict but fulfilling childhood, maturing into an intelligent, just, and kind woman who holds great affection for those who raised her, but is not blind enough to avoid chastising them for their mistakes.
      • Acceptance: Genichiro was taken into an esteemed samurai family with tremendous wealth and influence, and adjusted well. Yet, it could be argued he loved his family and clan too much, as he openly admits that he'll resort to any immoral and inhuman way necessary to protect and preserve the Ashina Clan.
    • Marriage is also a recurring theme, though not as strongly enforced throughout the game. Several bridal palanquins are scattered throughout the world, with some clearly meant for 'brides' (sacrifices) for deified creatures. One boss in particular is mourning his 'mate' when you arrived, and later will resurrect her in a latter encounter. There's plenty of Ship Tease around as well; for instance, Lord Takeru and Lady Tomoe's relationship being hinted as more than a normal master-retainer one, and Kuro and the Divine Child of Rejuvenating Waters literally sharing their bodies, thoughts, and feelings in the secret ending.
  • Multiple Endings: Given that it's a game by FromSoftware, multiple endings shouldn't be too surprising.
    • Shura: One of the earliest to obtain. Wolf agrees to Owl's orders to kill the Divine Heir. In response to this, Emma and Lord Isshin battle Wolf, though the latter does so to prevent Wolf from becoming Shura. They both fall, and Owl gloats that the country is now theirs for the taking... until Wolf drives a blade through his chest and kills him. The Divine Heir arrives to witness Wolf picking up the Owl's blade and realizes in horror that his once loyal vassal has now become a demon.
    • Immortal Severance: Wolf refuses to go along with the Owl's orders to kill the Divine Heir. He then obtains the ingredients for Dragon's Tears in order to prevent the Dragon's Heritage from falling into the wrong hands. However, Wolf arrives to find Genichiro having dealt a mortal blow to the Divine Heir, leading to a final confrontation with him and a newly revived Isshin Ashina. After both are slain, Wolf delivers a Mercy Kill to his former lord. He is last seen taking up the profession of the Sculptor with Emma, who returns his prosthetic to him, believing that a shinobi will seek strength, just as he once did.
    • Purification: The events play similarly to Immortal Severance, except instead of killing Kuro, Wolf sacrifices his own life to achieve Immortal Severance, thus sparing Kuro. Now mortal, Kuro pays his respects to Wolf's grave before leaving on his own journey.
    • Dragon's Homecoming: If Wolf performed an extra quest to assist the Divine Child and obtain a Frozen Dragon Tear from her, Kuro instead is absorbed into the Divine Child's heart. Carrying Kuro's soul inside her, the Divine Child decides to travel west to the Divine Dragon's birthplace and return the Dragon Heritage rather than sever it. Wolf decides to accompany them on their journey.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Some Samurai characters will begin the fight by announcing loudly who they are and what are their greatest deeds, true to samurai tradition.
  • Mythology Gag: Although this game is not part of the Soulsborne franchise, FromSoftware was bound to include several references to it.
    • A unique upgrade material for the Flame Vent is a piece of pine resin that continually burns with faint embers long after it should, i.e. Charcoal Pine Resin.
    • Contact Medicine protects Wolf against Poison by giving him a weaker version of it - a reference to how Dark Souls I players would protect themselves from the Toxic-enducing Blowdart Snipers of Blighttown by using Dung Pies to give themselves a weaker version of the condition.
    • One miniboss is a towering man in impenetrable heavy armor, who can only be defeated by making him fall off the edge of the arena. The Iron Golem of Dark Souls I was a giant suit of Animated Armor, and making it fall off the edge of its arena was the most efficient method of defeating it.
    • A giant snake is One-Hit Killed by plunging down on it from above, much like another giant reptilian creature - the Ancient Wyvern of Dark Souls III.
    • Like in Bloodborne, it's possible to send certain NPCs to meet their doom at the hands of a Mad Doctor.
    • Two endgame bosses are a gigantic white dragon wielding a magical green sword that fires energy waves out with slashes, and a monstrous, ape-like demon with an oversized left hand. In short - Seath, Moonlight Greatsword, and Manus equivalents.
    • The Demon of Hatred (a.k.a. the Sculptor) is stunned by the Malcontent (an upgrade for the Finger Whistle), like how Father Gascoigne is stunned by the Tiny Music Box. Like with Gascoigne, it will only stun the boss a few times before it stops working. To further drive the comparison home, the Tiny Music Box was something Gascoigne and his wife shared, while the Finger Whistle and Malcontent's Ring both originally belonged to the Sculptor's old shinobi training partner. Both items stun their respective bosses because their sound triggers memories of loved ones, which momentarily allow them to Resist the Beast.
    • Wolf can unlock the ability to coat his katana in an enemy's blood, extending its range. Lady Maria could do the same thing with her own katana and her own blood. Furthermore, Sir Alonne's Zanbatō had similar properties - from one's own blood when you get your hands on it, from an enemy's while he still wields it (namely, yours.)
    • Speaking of Lady Maria, an accidental Mythology Gag arises when giving Monkey Booze to the Sculptor. He reminisces about his former shinobi partner, who would play "his" Finger Whistle whenever the two of them took a break from training to drink Monkey Booze. Except once you find the Slender Finger used to create the Finger Whistle (which the Sculptor recognizes as being his old partner's finger), its description says it belonged to a woman. Looks like the translators once again goofed as they previously did with the Old Hunter Bonenote  and Pharis's equipment.note 
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The demo level for Ashina Outskirts is a mismatch of different levels in their final designs, all pieced together to offer the most diverse experience. In the game proper, the enemies and set pieces of the demo are much more scattered. For instance, the Corrupted Monk isn't fought in the Ashina Outskirts at all but near the Fountainhead Palace.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Lady Butterfly looks as if she has to be in her late sixties at the minimum, but if you underestimate her, you will quickly learn that she hasn't lived this long by being a pushover.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Genichiro wanted to use Kuro's blood to make himself and the rest of the Ashina military immortal; however, by kidnapping him, he ensured that Wolf would carve his way through virtually all of Ashina's remaining military assets to get him back.
  • Ninja: Besides our protagonist, there are various other shinobi lurking about, who tend to be the most agile and tricksy foes in the game; the tengu-masked Nightjars patrol the roofs of Ashina Castle, short dwarven assassins do the dirty work for Senpou Temple, and the Lone Shadows spy upon Ashina for their shogunate masters. And that's not getting into Wolf's former mentor Lady Butterfly and adoptive father Owl, aged master shinobi who are some of the dirtiest fighters in all of Ashina.
  • Nintendo Hard: Even compared to other games by FromSoftware, head-on combat is even harder than Dark Souls or Bloodborne in order to encourage creative solutions. Wolf is a shinobi who has little health, no armor, no shield and limited healing items - but the enemies are still just as tough, requiring only a couple of hits to kill him and being generally faster. But more importantly, the direct combat abandons the shields as well as nerfs the dodge in order for the players to master up to three ways of defending themselves at the same time. Even resurrection is not optimal, as Wolf comes back with only half a health bar. Nonetheless, the grapple hook has considerably diminished the dangers the environment can present and allows Wolf to flee from normal fights. In addition, the parry system has been reworked; whereas parrying in previous games required very precise timing on the player's part, Wolf can block all damage regardless of his timing, and a successful deflection only depends on when the player blocks; parry frames are no longer an issue.
  • Noiseless Walker: What Wolf can become if he unlocks the Suppress Sound skill, allowing him to make no noises when moving and making him even better at stealth.
  • Non-Dubbed Grunts: In the English voice language, most of the grunts enemies make still use the ones made by their Japanese voice actors. This even applies to bosses, such as Owl and Isshin.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: You keep hearing about something called "Shura" throughout the game, the force of bloodlust and violence that turns warriors into unstoppable demons. As much as it's talked up, you never actually get to see what a fully formed Shura looks like. The closest you get is the Demon of Hatred who, as bad as he is, is evidently a failed Shura. Wolf becomes one in the worst ending of the game, but the screen cuts to black before we see him actually transform, and the narration tells us that he went on to indiscriminately kill thousands of people.
  • Notice This: Most out-of-the-way ledges Wolf can climb up or sidle along are cracked and chipped, creating clear white streaks on dark stone.
  • Off with His Head!: A unique Finishing Move that Wolf can perform on the Guardian Ape, twisting the odachi that's already stuck in its throat. Seconds after, the Guardian Ape comes back to life, grabs his head and the sword and continues to fight you.
  • Ominous Fog:
    • As usual for FromSoftware titles, a barrier of fog will lock you into boss battles.
    • The path leading to Mibu Village is heavily shrouded in fog, and ghostly illusion enemies roam around within it, endlessly respawning until the source of the fog is dealt with.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The Senpou Monks constantly repeat Buddhist prayers when idle, lending a sinister air to the temple.
  • Optional Stealth: As a ninja, one of Wolf's best tools is stealth. Nothing prevents him from walking at ground level in the middle of the road to openly confront the Samurai and monsters on his way; on the other hand, Wolf can scale walls, hide in bushes, and attack from stealth, allowing him to even the odds a bit before showing himself. It's ultimately up to the player to decide how sneaky of a shinobi they want to be.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • Some supernatural foes are described as "Apparition type". They are incredibly resistant to all attacks, to the point where applying Divine Confetti to the sword is basically the only way to reliably deal damage to them, and their attacks inflict a special Terror status effect that can kill Wolf outright.
    • Beginning at duskfall, certain isolated areas such as the Sunken Valley or Mibu Village will be populated with the vengeful spirits of dead mooks, only manifesting when you get close enough to them. While they don't require Divine Confetti to damage, they can really mess with your sense of enemy placement. Since these 'ghosts' were dependent on which area you've visited previously, it's likely this represented Wolf's 'karmic debt', which was insinunated by the Sculptor's conversations. They're literally remnants of the people Wolf has killed.
  • Palette Swap: Several miniboss and boss types are recycled throughout the game, generally with slightly different appearances, but largely identical mechanics. For example, the Blazing Bull is recycled into the Sakura Bull, and Juzou the Drunkard has two other doppelgangers that can be fought after he's dealt with.
  • Parrot Exposition: Whenever someone introduces a new concept to Wolf, he has the habit of repeating the term in an interrogative manner, just so the game can drive home that it will be important.
  • Pet the Dog: The Sake line of items exists purely to do this; you can give them to Emma, the Sculptor, and Isshin Ashina. There is no mechanical reason to do so, but it gives you a glimpse of a more relaxed, positive side of each of them, and offers hints about the lore that you wouldn't otherwise have gotten.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Wolf can attach the poisoned blade Sabimaru to his prosthetic arm, using it in quick slashes to build up a Poison status on enemies. It can be even further upgraded for added lethality.
  • Portal Network: The Sculptor's Idols act the same way as the bonfires in Dark Souls, allowing Wolf to fast travel between any activated Idol on the map. They also serve as a way for Wolf to acquire skills and increase his stats.
  • Power-Up Food: A number of consumables that can make Wolf stronger for a short time.
    • Red Ako sugars increase attack power.
    • Blue Ungo sugars decrease Vitality damage received.
    • Yellow Gokan sugars reduce Posture damage taken.
    • Green Gachiin sugars boost stealthiness.
    • Dark red Yashariku sugars greatly increase Attack Power, at the cost of halving one's maximum Vitality and Posture.
    • The Divine Child can also give out a magical rice that restores Vitality. Kuro can use this rice to make an even more powerful buff item.
  • Rain of Blood: In a bit of an homage to Bloodborne, there's a small one after Wolf kills the Great Serpent by stabbing it in the eye.
  • Recurring Boss:
    • Genichiro Ashina serves as Wolf's greatest rival during the course of the game, as the shinobi may have to fight him up to three times, all battles marking the end of an act in the storyline.
    • Since it is infested by a centipede and thusly is Undying, The Guardian Ape has to be fought twice, the second time giving it the true death thanks to Wolf's recently acquired Mortal Blade.
  • Recurring Element: Sekiro features several mechanics from Dark Souls and Bloodborne, but tweaked and tailored to fit the setting:
    • The Healing Gourd is an Estus Flask in all but name: you have a set but upgradable number of heals that replenish at checkpoints.
    • Pellets are essentially Lifegems, although you can only hold up to 3 at a time.
    • Sculptor's Idols are similar to bonfires: they serve as checkpoints, heal the Player Character and refresh the Healing Gourd, but will respawn every regular enemy in the area.
    • The Shinobi Prothestic is an evolution of Bloodborne's trick weapons: a tool that augments the player's moveset and grants special attacks.
    • The Ceremonial Tanto damages you for a percentage of your max HP in exchange for giving you five extra Spirit Emblems. In other words, it works just like Blood Bullets. The differences are that the Tanto damages you for 50% of your max HP instead of 30% and only has three uses, which replenish at checkpoints.
    • The Five-Color Rice is essentially a jug of Prism Stones/Shining Coins, except instead of being able to carry 99 at once, it only has 5 uses before needing to be replenished at checkpoints.
    • Owl, when fought at Ashina Castle, throws smoke bombs that prevent you from healing for a short time, just like Lloyd's Talismans and Undead Hunter Charms.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • After an entire game full of Supernatural Martial Arts, Charles Atlas Superpower, and Master Swordsmen, it can be a little off-putting (and funny) when the Final Boss, despite being hailed as the greatest swordsman to ever live, complements his I Am Not Left-Handed moment by pulling out a gun and an over-sized polearm instead of continuing to use his sword. But this is fitting, as polearms and guns were in fact the primary weapons of the Japanese nobility in the late 16th century when the game is set (having displaced bows following the introduction of matchlocks by Portuguese traders).
    • No matter how skilled Wolf is, getting into a direct fight with more than one gun-wielding enemy will typically end with you either being extremely well-ventilated or running away and coming back when you can fight dirty.
    • The unarmed Senpou monks can deflect some blows, but they have incredibly low posture, and two or three blows will break through their guards and leave them open to a Deathblow; turns out taking on a Katana-wielding opponent with no weapon of your own is a losing proposition.
    • As a Shinobi, Wolf's skillset is poorly suited to fighting large groups of enemies at once, and you will usually find yourself on the losing end of any such engagement. Inversely, those same enemies are not well-equipped or well-trained to handle an infiltrator of Wolf's caliber, meaning that you can usually take them out without ever being seen, or at least even the odds before the fight starts.
    • The problem with the Armored Warrior is that his armor is a different tier of defense altogether compared to even other samurai. The use of full plate and mail mean a katana won't get through it no matter how hard Wolf tries. However, this is taken advantage of once Wolf knocks him off the bridge.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: As with the "Soulsborne" games, Wolf only has access to a limited number of healing items and spirit emblems between Sculptor's Idols.
  • Remixed Level: Ashina Castle and Ashina Outskirts, after the Ministry invasion. Powerful new enemies and minibosses appear, certain areas are blocked off by fires and barricades, and siege towers with snipers are set up everywhere, providing a large difficulty spike. Overlaps with Remilitarized Zone.
  • Resurrection Sickness: An interesting case, in that it isn't Wolf who gets the sickness. Every time he dies "for good" and resurrects, it strains the lifeforce of people around him - and when the strain becomes too strong, its victims develop a disease called Dragonrot. The more Wolf dies, the wider the infection spreads, severely limiting your NPC interactions unless you go through the loops necessary to cure it. Thankfully, doing so heals all affected characters at once.
  • Roofhopping: Whether to sneak around enemies or just to get to your next destination, you will most definitely be jumping from rooftop to rooftop throughout the course of the game, usually with the help of your grappling hook. But be warned - enemy shinobi can traverse the rooftops just as easily as you.
  • Samurai: Unsurprisingly, samurai feature predominantly among the Ashina's best warriors, with even the lowliest of them far superior to common foot soldiers. When the Interior Ministry invades, they bring in their own master samurai, some of whom even have guns!
  • Scenery Porn: The game is full of gorgeous mountain-scapes, home to beautiful fortresses, temples and monuments to Buddha. Wolf gets to navigate through them all.
  • Secret Underground Passage: A secret underground passage connects the Ashina Castle to the Dilapidated Temple. Unlocked at the end of the first act, the passage allows Wolf to meet rapidly both the Sculptor and Kuro.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: There are two in-game methods that allow the player increase the game's difficulty if they so choose to:
    • There is a location in Mt. Kongou that can be accessed as early as Ashina Outskirts known as Bell Demon's Temple. There, Wolf can ring an iron bell and be possessed by a Bell Demon that boosts enemy health, posture, and damage (likely simulating the next NG+ cycle). In exchange, foes have improved drop rates. Wolf can opt out of the sinister burden by dispelling the demon from his inventory.
    • Going into New Game+ will reveal that Wolf was possessing a key item called Kuro's Charm by default, preventing all damage from going through his blocks. Giving the charm back to Kuro at the beginning of the game will remove that effect; Wolf must maintain consistently perfect deflections to avoid taking damage, while holding the block button and spam-blocking become riskier to perform. If it proves too much, Wolf can ask for the charm back by talking to Sculptor.
  • Self-Recovery Surprise: Some bosses harbour a centipede parasite that will trigger a surprise resurrection after the boss is seemingly killed. Both Guardian Ape and Corrupted Monk battles have the eponymous boss receiving what should be an indisputable mortal blow yet coming back from death to resume the fight.
  • Sequential Boss: Several bosses are like this. There is Genichiro Ashina, who during his second boss fight will shed his armor and begin using the Lightning of Tomoe, becoming much more agile and adding lightning attacks in his arsenal. There is also the Guardian Ape, which gets beheaded by Wolf but comes back to life as a headless body wielding the very sword that decapitated it.
  • Sequel Hook: The Dragon's Homecoming opens this up as a possibility. Having decided to return the Dragon's Heritage to its birthplace instead of cutting it outright, Wolf takes Kuro to the Divine Child of Rejuvenation so she can be a shelter to his soul. She leaves Senpou Temple and Ashina in monk garb, with Wolf accompanying her as they journey westward. A Journey to the West, if you will.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: There are multiple types of enemies equipped with shields, such as the bandits raiding Hirata Estate, some of the Taro Troops, and Senpou assassins wearing massive armored hats that protect their entire body from the front. Attacking such foes head-on is a difficult and slow process at best; as such, the only efficient way of killing them in a direct fight is to use the Loaded Axe to instantly break their shields.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Fulminated Mercury upgrade material goes for the obvious one: its Flavor Text describes it as a "tweak of chemistry".
    • The cutscene where Wolf is carried into Fountainhead Palace by a gigantic Shimenawa effigy resembles a similar scene in Princess Mononoke of the Great Forest Spirit moving through the forest in its "nightwalker" form during the night.
    • The most blatant Princess Mononoke reference is probably the Sunken Valley Clan, who seem to be based on the inhabitants of Irontown; not only are both groups primarily armed with hand cannons and led by tough women, but the Sunken Valley clansmen have a similar Bandage Mummy-esque appearance to Irontown's leper gunsmiths.
    • The "Sen Throw" shinobi prosthetic tool is one to fictional detective Heiji Zenigata, who used coins as a tool to help him catch criminals.
    • One in the The Dragon's Homecoming ending where Wolf and the Divine Child take a Journey to the West to the home of the Dragon's heritage.
    • There seems to be a fair few references to the samurai movies of Akira Kurosawa; Wolf himself looks a lot like his frequent star actor Toshiro Mifune, while the appearance and animation of the bandits seems to be based directly on those from The Seven Samurai.
    • The Blazing Bull is probably a reference to 13 Assassins, where charging bulls with burning bails of hay tied to their heads were used by the outnumbered protagonists to clear out large numbers of mooks; quite similar to how the desperate Ashina clan is resorting to extreme tactics to hold the Interior Ministry at bay.
    • The sculptor is a Composite Character of Jyukai from Dororo (gives disabled swordsman Artificial Limbs so he can fight demons) and Saruta from Phoenix (specifically the version from the Karma and Civil War arcs, a Buddhist sculptor who becomes an impossibly old hermit), both Jidaigeki stories created by Osamu Tezuka.
    • The Centipedes are Expies of Voldo from the Soul Series.
  • Shown Their Work: Fantastical elements aside, the game's backstory is largely based on historical fact, and at least some of the game's characters, namely the Ashina clan, were either (loosely) based off real-life members or are a composite thereof.
  • Signature Move: The Ashina sword style's most recognizable move is the practitioner performing a short jump before making a vertical downward slash. It deals heavy vitality and posture damage, and most major members of the Ashina clan wielding the sword can use it. There is also the Ashina Cross, a special move involving unsheathing one's sword at high speed to perform a dual horizontal then vertical slash, which the most powerful practitioners of the style perform.
    • As you advance throughout the game, several enemies' initially unique movesets become available to you. For example, Genichiro's 'Floating Passage', learned from Lady Tomoe, can later be purchased from a merchant. Isshin's 'One Mind' and 'Dragon Flash' become available once you defeat both his young and old self in the final battles.
    • Shadowrush is stated to be Owl's signature technique. Unsurprisingly, he uses it in his Hirata Estates boss fight.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Wolf duels Lady Butterfly as the boss of the Hirata Estates memory; her Remnant states that she was one of Wolf's mentors during his training, making it a clear case of this. She even lampshades the trope in her death quote. Beating Owl in either of his fights also makes it clear Wolf has surpassed him; the achievement for beating him at the Hirata Estate is even called "Father Surpassed."
  • Skill Scores and Perks: The game leans toward perks. Set amount of experiences are converted into skill points that can be invested to unlock unique passive perks or special moves rather than continuously upgrading stats. However, a less visible skill score also applies, as Wolf performs specific actions and becomes better at them with practice. There are five specific skill trees focusing on one type of gameplay each.
    • The Shinobi Art tree focuses on making Wolf an all-around better ninja. One set of these skills allows him to be even more agile during combat by unlocking dashes and somesaults and multiplying the ways he can deflect, another lightly enhances his stealth, and a few skills increase the amount of Spirit Emblems he can hold.
    • The Ashina Art tree makes Wolf a better Master Swordsman. The skills unlock some of the Ashina sword style moves, increase the Posture damage he can deal, and decrease the Posture damage he takes.
    • The Prosthetic Art skill tree focuses on enhancing the use of the Prosthetic Arm during combat, unlocking useful properties for each Prosthetic Tool, combinations of prosthetic tools with close-combat moves, and a couple more increases to Spirit emblem capacity. It also contains two skills that boost the effectiveness of healing items.
    • The Temple Art skill tree makes Wolf somewhat of a Bare-Fisted Monk, unlocking hand-to-hand combat moves. Moreover, it can unlock passive perks that will support him, such as increasing the duration of the buffs provided by the sugars or increasing the amount of money and frequency of items dropped from enemies.
    • The Mushin Art skill tree combines the final skills from the other trees into powerful new Combat Arts.
  • Soft Water: Averted. Wolf must fall from an extreme height to take damage, but if he does, he will take the same amount of damage regardless of whether he lands in water or not.
  • Smoke Out: One unlockable ability allows Wolf to turn the blood of fallen enemies into bloodsmoke, creating a large cloud of red mist that temporarily blinds all nearby enemies, allowing him to either escape or commence backstabbing.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Wolf realizes that Isshin Ashina is the same guy in the Tengu getup that he met earlier after being called "Sekiro"; the name that the Tengu gave him.
  • Spell Blade: Living Force, the final skill of the Prosthetic skill tree allows Wolf to imbue his sword with the effect of certain Prosthetic Tools. For example, the Flame Vent will create a Flaming Sword.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Despite being made by largely the same team, the game is very much this to Dark Souls, both aesthetically and mechanically.
    • While Dark Souls takes place in a Medieval European Fantasy setting, heavily inspired by Berserk and The Lord of the Rings, and features prominent RPG elements, Sekiro is more of a straight stealth-action title, set in a heavily fictionalized version of feudal Japan with more influence from Jidaigeki fiction such as Blade of the Immortal.
    • Dark Souls is known for its prominent RPG mechanics and wide variety of weapons, armor, and spells, which lead to a massive number of different playstyles. Sekiro has a set protagonist, features almost no unique equipment aside from the Shinobi Prosthetic, and demands the player master the core mechanics to succeed, with almost none of Dark Souls' traditional crutches such as overlevelling oneself or summoning helpers.
    • There's no multiplayer aspect at all. Sekiro is a solitary experience the whole way through, meaning there are no summons to help you with boss fights and no messages to warn you of traps or tell you where to go next. Conversely, there are no invaders either.
    • Dark Souls is famous for its cryptic story and lore, while Sekiro has a more straightforward plot told primarily through exposition and cutscenes. The protagonist, while stoic, has a defined backstory, personality, and motivation, and he even undergoes some Character Development over the course of the game.
    • Dark Souls featured Super Drowning Skills, famously awkward jumping mechanics, and even the occasional Insurmountable Waist-High Fence. Sekiro, on the other hand, is designed around verticality; you can grapple and jump almost anywhere, and are encouraged to do so to get the drop on enemies. Wolf can also swim and is even capable of fighting in water, and a later buff grants him the ability to dive underwater indefinitely, giving him Super ''Not'' Drowning Skills. Falling into a Bottomless Pit isn't even an instant death anymore - it just takes away half your health before respawning you where you fell off instead.
    • Most importantly of all, combat in the Souls series is primarily slow and defensive in nature; you are encouraged to block or dodge most attacks, wait for openings to retaliate, and keep an eye on your stamina at all times. Sekiro is exactly the opposite. This game lacks a stamina gauge, instead having a Posture bar that regenerates faster if you keep your guard up, and the focus of most combat encounters is to wear down your enemy's Posture through a mix of relentless attacks and well-timed parrying, which allows you to perform a Shinobi Deathblow. The enemy's actual health bar is almost an afterthought, and using Hit-and-Run Tactics, as was optimal in the Soulsborne games, is exactly the wrong thing to do since it just lets the enemy regenerate their posture.
  • Spiritual Successor: Sekiro at one point was planned to be a Tenchu title; it still shares the focus on vertical acrobatic movement, stealth elements, and the feudal Japanese setting.
  • Standard Status Effect: There are five, called Status Abnormalities. Just like in past titles, a bar needs to be filled before the status can trigger.
    • The Burn status effect is triggered when hit with too many fire-based attacks. When Wolf is burning, he cannot regenerate Posture and his health is slowly chipped away by the fire damage. It can be cured with Dousing Powder.
    • The Poison status effect triggered when hit with too many poison-based attacks. When poisoned, Wolf's health is slowly chipped away by poison damage. It can be cured with Antidote Powder.
    • The Shock status effect is triggered when hit with too many lightning-based attacks. Once shocked, a huge part of the health bar is drained and Wolf is paralyzed for a few moments. This can be avoided by taking the initial electrical attack while airborne, and attacking, which will redirect the lightning with minimal damage to Wolf; he will only be affected by the Shock status if he touches the ground.
    • The Terror status effect is triggered when hit by apparition-type enemies or other unnerving attacks. It causes instant death if fully applied. Its buildup can be prevented with Fearlessness Powder or Pacifying Agent.
    • The Enfeeblement status effect is uniquely applied by the inhuman nobles of the Fountainhead Palace and causes Wolf to temporarily age into an old man, dramatically reducing his health, preventing resurrection, and limiting his abilities to a slow walk, a pitiful hop, and a single weak slash. Any enemy can easily finish him off while he's in this state, though he can regain his youth by killing the noble that Enfeebled him.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The Fountainhead Palace is filled with enemies that will quickly inflict a devastatingly crippling status effect on Wolf upon spotting him, making stealth practically mandatory to get through it.
  • Storming the Castle: After the prologue, this is essentially Wolf's main goal for the first half of the game; Lord Kuro has been taken by Genichiro Ashina and is currently held prisoner at Ashina Castle, forcing Wolf to fight his way up from the outskirts to the central tower.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Wolf can easily swim underwater indefinitely, handwaved with the "Mibu breathing technique" shinobi trick.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts:
    • Wolf can learn some rather unnatural fighting techniques such as Dragon Flash, in addition to more mundane abilities. They're so supernatural, Wolf must use White Spirit Emblems to activate them. A lot of enemies use the same techniques.
    • This is also implicitly the reason that so many characters are blatantly superhuman- obtaining superhuman physicality via martial arts training being nigh-ubiquitous in the genre. For example, some of the most basic mooks in the game are martial artist monks who can block Wolf's katana swings with their bare hands, and hurt Wolf more with a punch than a regular soldier does with a heavy swing of a battleaxe.
  • Swipe Your Blade Off: Genichiro performs this gesture after cutting off Wolf's arm.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: Wolf's Shinobi Prosthetic holds various tools for him to use alongside his sword.
  • Sword Lines: Some attacks leave luminous trails. Sometimes, these result from elemental power or a supernatural weapon such as the Mortal Blade. Sometimes, the effect is there to signal that the strike is just that powerful; in particular, certain attacks that leave bright white trails, such as the Ashina Elites' double iaijutsu slash or some of Isshin's more powerful strikes, will deal chip damage if your deflection timing isn't on point.
  • Sword Sparks: Parrying enemy attacks is a core mechanic of the game, so the sight of seeing two blades grinding each other with bright sparks flying is a regular occurrence.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: One of the key tools to severing Kuro's ties of immortality is the Fushigiri ("Mortal Blade") - a famed cursed sword that kills anyone who unsheathes it, powerful enough to destroy even what can be considered immortal.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Perilous Attacks will deal massive damage if they land. Luckily, the game forecasts this by having a massive red kanji appear over Wolf's body just before they use it. The player can counter them in different ways, but crucially, Perilous Attacks always belong one of three different types. The player must choose the right way to dodge the attack, as getting caught by it will often result in instant death.
    • Thrusts must be either Mikiri'd or deflected. Dodging is possible too, but thrusts often have tracking, making it possible for enemies to redirect their attack to where you're dodging to and get you anyways.
    • Sweeps must be jumped over, since they go under your deflection and are difficult to dodge out of.
    • Grabs need to be dodged away from. Notably, grabs can also come in the form of sweeps, in which case they need to be jumped over instead.
  • Take a Third Option: Done in incremental ways, at that.
    • If Wolf decides to stay loyal to Kuro, then he is faced with the cruel choice of either killing his lord to sever the ties of immortality or disobeying his master's will. Instead, if Wolf does specific actions at specific times to trigger special dialog options with Emma, then he can learn there is a way to kill himself instead to make Kuro a normal human. It requires him to acquire the Everblossom flowers from the Owl from the memory of the Hirata Estate.
    • Alternatively, Wolf can also start a quest with the Divine Child of Rejuvenation for her to give Frozen Tears. That way, Wolf can instead have Kuro be absorbed into the Divine Child, at which point both travel west to the birthplace of the Divine Dragon in order to give back the Heritage.
  • Teleport Spam: If Wolf is taking constant damage from burning or poison, he can spam teleport with the Mist Raven. This is especially useful when using the mildly poisonous Contact Medicine. It is not a glitch or an oversight - the game encourages you to do this with the following hint:
    Mist Raven's description: "Some shinobi also use this medicine for a specific technique. Poison is said to expand the mind."
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Katana-wielding monkeys will sometimes throw their sword at Wolf if he is far enough away. Whether it works or not is essentially up to the player's skills.
  • Title Drop: The protagonist is usually just called "Wolf" ("Ōkami") by everyone who knows him. It's only a little ways into the game when an NPC wearing a Tengu mask interrogates him and, being given no name, decides that this wolfish, one-armed man should be called "Sekiro."
  • Undead Abomination: The Buddhist Monks of the Senpou Temple on Mount Kongo rejected Buddha's teachings of accepting the impermanence of life in favor of seeking eternal life through immortality. Experimenting with the Rejuvenating Waters, the monks have since gained emaciated mummified forms (similar to the real life sokushinbutsu), overrun with centipedes and other horrifying vermin. Those in the more advanced stages of corruption have massive centipedes sprouting from a hole in their abdomens.
  • Underwater Ruins: Parts of the Fountainhead Palace's are completely flooded, and Wolf can swim a bit amidst the underwater ruins of the building. However, a Great Colored Carp that resides in these waters will attempt to kill him.
  • The Unfettered: The Iron Code demands this of all shinobi. A samurai is bound by a code of honor, greatly limiting his strategic options; a shinobi must simply accomplish the mission at any cost, no matter the methods.
  • Universal Ammunition: The usage of all the various Prosthetic Tools cost Spirit Emblems - paper dolls that hold souls of the dead.
  • Vampiric Draining: How the immortality bestowed by the Dragon's Heritage ultimately functions. Wolf must draw upon the life force of others in order to power his resurrections - this, unfortunately, leads to stagnation in the victims, eventually infecting them with Dragonrot. To worsen the matter, he cannot choose who'll eventually succumb to the illness (if anything, those closest to him are the most likely to become afflicted). The enemies Wolf faces throughout the game can also supply him with the necessary life force, but even then he'll have to keep on killing and surrounding himself in death.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Outside of halting certain NPC questlines and reducing chances for Unseen Aid (which one shouldn't be dependent on), inflicting Dragonrot on the people Wolf meets does not significantly affect gameplay or the overall story in the long run; you are free to go through the entire game in the wake of a Dragonrot epidemic of your own doing. At the same time, the game still encourages you to cure victims anyway. The item description on the Dragon's Blood Droplet says it best for the reason why: "The incessant coughing must cease."
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: A sidequest allows you to send either the witless Gentle Giant Kotaro or the friendly samurai Jinzaemon Kumano to the "care" of Mad Doctor Doujun to be experimented on.
  • Villainous Underdog: The Ashina Clan are just fighting for survival against the much more powerful Interior Ministry.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Lady Butterfly is this for players who go through the Hirata Estate immediately after it unlocks, which makes her the first true boss encountered. She's fast, aggressive, has a second phase that's a lot more difficult without some rare items, and the player won't have much in the way of healing to fall back on.
  • War Is Hell: Sekiro does not paint a glamorous picture of war. Piles of corpses, both human and animal, litter the ground everywhere, and the Ashina clan has been forced to resort to desperate tactics that even some of their own feel conflicted about (to the point where tying a flaming bale of hay to a big bull that they intend to send stampeding into enemy lines is just the tip of the iceberg). Indeed, almost every single sympathetic character in the game is a tragic victim of the previous war in one way or another.
  • Warrior Monk:
  • Was Once a Man: Quite a few enemies are corrupted or mutated humans.
    • The Headless are the restless ghosts of warriors who died for their country.
    • The villagers of Mibu are normal people mutated into zombie-like monsters by the corrupted waters of the Fountainhead Palace.
    • The Demon of Hatred is the Sculptor, mutated into a grotesque monster by his own rage, hatred, murderous intentions and heavy karmic debt.
  • Water Source Tampering: The origin of Mibu Village's plight. Their river has been polluted with water from the Fountainhead Palace, slowly turning them into monsters.
  • Weapon Stomp: The skill named Mikiri Counter allows Wolf to step on the blade or shaft of a thrusting attack and deflect it downward, heavily damaging a foe's Posture in the process. It looks really great, and because it allows Wolf to easily counter thrust attacks, it is recommended to obtain the skill as soon as possible.
  • Wham Line: During the boss fight against the Demon of Hatred, Wolf recognizes who it was...note 
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Kuro is smart enough to realize that most of the game's conflict can be traced back to the Dragon's Heritage; as such, he wants to end it, forever. Each of the endings revolves around doing so in a different way, other than the Shura ending.
  • The Worf Effect: The first time you see the Demon of Hatred, it is in the middle of effortlessly slaughtering a large group of the Red Guard. This comes at the tail end of a level filled with evidence of their overwhelming superiority in the face of Ashina's military, and they will have probably given the Player more than a few deaths by this point as well.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: A central theme of the game, but for different reasons than most works that tackle this issue.
    • Kuro is immortal due to his Dragon Heritage, but he wants nothing more than to be rid of it, having come to view its mere existence as a corrupting influence on mankind, since it turns out a lot of people really want to live forever and don't care what kinds of unspeakable acts they have to commit to achieve it.
    • Hanbei is immortal due to being "infested", but he wants to be rid of it so he can die to atone for failing to protect his master like a samurai is expected to.
    • More indirectly, much of the game's conflict comes from the varying parties seeking to obtain the Dragon's Heritage; if not for the promise of immortality tempting Owl, Lady Butterfly, and Genichiro, it is entirely possible that none of the game's plot would have ever happened. No wonder Kuro wants to end it once and for all.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: The Chained Ogre enemy has an array of wrestling-inspired moves, including dropkicks, elbow drops and suplex-like throws.


 
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Alternative Title(s): Sekiro, Shadows Die Twice

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Divine Dragon

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