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Platform Reviewed: PC
Prior to playing Sekiro, I never got into From Software games. I took a crack at Dark Souls once upon a time, and I gave up when I lost hours worth of souls and humanity from going to New Londo in the early game. I appreciated the lore and the advancements their games made since, but it wasn't until the COVID-19 pandemic when I finally gave From a second chance, this time being Sekiro. What I got was not only a game that deserved its 2019 GOTY award but one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had in gaming.
Let's address the elephant in the room first. Yes, the gameplay is rightfully classified as Nintendo Hard and you will die often. Yet, if you hang on and take the time and effort to practice deflecting and utilizing tools to your advantage, you will conquer any miniboss and boss that stands in your way. Getting sliced and diced? Look at the blade swings and keep practicing LB to deflect at the right time. Need to distract a spear-swinging miniboss? Invest in upgrading firecrackers and watch the spearman flinch as you swing away. I screamed in joy when I finally beat an unforgiving boss, and bosses such as Lady Butterfly and Genichiro will help you understand the intricacies of the game's mechanics. As much as I vented when I lost from one bad choice, I am thankful to them in the long-run for helping me make the most of my abilities.
Moreover, the game encourages the use of verticality and stealth as you explore its gorgeous environments. The stealth mechanics are simplistic compared to other stealth games like Dishonored or Thief II. However, it serves as a welcome break from the deflecting and counters you'll use in fights, and it even helps even the odds with otherwise daunting minibosses. Dare I say, its verticality and use of stealth clicked with me and helped me stay with the game even as I kept falling in battle.
Finally, I cannot express enough love for the game's art style and soundtrack. It's not in the same objective graphical league as Crysis or Control, but who cares when you spend time just staring at the gorgeous environments. From is confident in its aesthetics and use of Japanese setting, and it absolutely shows with its art. The soundtrack by Yuka Kitamura is also breath-taking beautiful and perfectly tuned to your situation. Divine Dragon, in particular, left me further in awe to the boss fight's already incredible setting and is up there with Skyrim's Far Horizons as one of the most beautiful songs ever made for a game.
So is Sekiro a tough game? Absolutely. It is also the most rewarding game I've played in a long while and one I absolutely recommend you play. Overall, this game will rightfully contend with Dark Souls as From's Magnum Opus, and it will stand out as one of the greatest games in the eighth generation.
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