How Sekiro: Shadow Dies Twice thrillingly evolves Dark Souls’s combat

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice shinobi deathblow

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest game from the creators of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, which means that this is a world filled with deadly enemies you’ll need to constantly stay one step ahead of. Especially when said enemies are gigantic demon monks who want to slice you in half.

But unlike its spiritual predecessors, Sekiro’s focus is not on blocking or dodging attacks, but going toe-to-toe with various foes and parrying their attacks to create opportunities for your ninja warrior to swiftly strike in. And that’s before we even touch on his stealthy skills to manoeuvre around the battlefield in.

We’ve already taken a look at the world, character, and bosses of Sekiro, so with that in mind, we’re looking at five key ways the combat has evolved from Dark Souls to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

1. Stealth plays an important part

Sneaking plays a huge part in Sekiro. You’re a ninja after all, and using the skills of a Shinobi is vital to gaining a upper hand in your quest. Ghost behind a low level enemy without them noticing you and you’ll be able to perform a ruthless insta-kill. Then, using the hero’s *handy* grapple hook, you’ll be able to zip away and get a new vantage point to survey your surroundings.

This puts an emphasis on using the environment to your advantage, whittling down opposition numbers until a direct attack is a more inviting proposition.

2. Fights focus on duelling

In a recent Game Informer interview, Sekiro Producer lead game designer Masaru Yamamura speaks about how the focus of combat has moved onto duelling. After all, our hero wields a fearsome Katana that is long as it is deadly. That means one-on-one scraps require you to be fleet of foot and mind, as you deflect your adversaries sword swipes, waiting for the moment to take advantage.

Key to this is parrying attacks. Time a block perfectly, and you’ll slash at an enemy’s attack, knocking them back and giving you a chance to launch your own offensive. Miscue the parry, and you’ll leave yourself open to a platter of pain.

Fortunately, you’ll have a little help to bring you up to speed to the rhythms of this deadly dance. Kanji symbols will appear to warn you of heavy attacks, so you can decide if you want to risk parrying or hop back and avoid this monumental strike. Like Dark Souls, Sekiro is as more a battle of wits than it is brawn.

3. Posture determines how vulnerable you are

What underpins this new approach to combat is the Posture system, a gauge that, when filled, will leave a character staggered and vulnerable. Both you and every enemy has one and learning how to fill theirs quickly and efficiently while keeping your own to a minimum is the key to gaining the advantage in combat.

For instance, if you block attacks, your Posture gauge will fill by a little, but parrying them will fill your opponents. This works both ways though, and getting a clean attack in will see that gauge fill at an alarmingly fast rate. If your meter gets maxed out, the shinobi will be left reeling and exposed to a bevy of blows. Fill an enemy’s posture gauge up, and they’ll be left exposed to your own ruthless attack…

4. Shinobi Deathblows are amazing (and gory)

The Shinobi Deathblow is as fearsome as it sounds. Should you fill an enemy’s Posture gauge, you’ll have a window to get close and deliver a devastating attack that wipes off an entire health bar. For some of your unlucky foes, it’ll be fatal, while for bigger boss battles, you’ll need to take off a few health bars before they go down for good.

These provide a moment of extreme (and incredibly gory) catharsis after a duel, as you get a chance to revel in getting the better of your opponent. If that’s not the point of a one-on-fight, we don’t know what is.

5. Prosthetic Tools can change the course of a battle

One of the key things to know about The One-Armed Wolf, the shinobi you control, is that he has a prosthetic arm that hides all manner of gadgets in its splintery casing. We’ve already mentioned the grappling hook that lets you fling yourself from point-to-point, but there’s plenty of offensive tools that can help as well.

One is the Loaded Axe, which is handy at breaking shields that your foes might try to cower behind. Another is the Flame Vent, that sets anything in its path on fire. While you can’t use these tools willy-nilly (you’ll need to collect Buddha statues for that), used in the right moment, they can turn the tide of a duel on its head.