The more we see of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the more we can’t wait to get stuck in to this atmospheric shinobi adventure. You can read all about the main character, the Wolf, right here, or stick around to find out more about the visually stunning world of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Sengoku Japan and the Ashina lands
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is set in late sixteenth-century Japan, during a particularly bloody era of Japanese history known as Sengoku, or the Warring States era. In real life, Sengoku-era Japan was under the control of a ruling shogunate with a figurehead emperor, and the daimyo leaders of different regions fought constantly amongst themselves for territory and influence over the shogunate.
Against that backdrop, we’re introduced to the game’s main antagonists: the Ashina clan. While not much has been revealed about the Ashina clan’s territory in English, the official Japanese website for Sekiro describes it as a place located just beyond the snowy mountains, which was conquered from its previous ruler in a single generation by an Ashina swordsman from the north.
Fast-forwarding to the moment at which the game begins, the Ashina lands have been struggling under a sustained attack from an unspecified threat, and they’ve reached the point where all their usual methods of defence have failed. As a result, they have no choice but to kidnap the young noble under the protection of Sekiro’s protagonist, The Wolf, as they seem to believe his ancient bloodline can save them.
And while we’ve only seen glimpses of the Ashina territory so far, it seems likely that we’ll get to explore it more thoroughly when the Wolf ventures there in search of his young master.
The Dilapidated Temple
One of the areas that we’ve seen the most of is something which should be familiar to fans of Dark Souls and Bloodborne: a central hub area called the Dilapidated Temple.
This area is a little different to the hub areas in From Software’s other games, though, as it’s physically attached to the rest of the map (and apparently in several places, which is intriguing). While it’s still possible, and at times essential, to teleport there, it’s equally possible to walk to it from almost anywhere in the open world environment.
While in the Dilapidated Temple, the Wolf can train with and learn skills from a mysterious individual known as the Immortal Soldier, buy new stuff, and upgrade his equipment and abilities.
It’s also home to the Busshi of Aretera, the sculptor of Buddhist relics who was responsible for not only crafting our hero’s prosthetic arm, but also the myriad four-armed statues dotted around the map. These statues, incidentally, serve both as checkpoints and fast travel points for returning to the hub area. If there are no statues to hand, you can use items to teleport back there instead.
Glimpses of unfamiliar lands
According to From Software director Hidetaka Miyazaki in a recent interview with Game Informer, the game world really opens up at about the halfway stage, at which point you get “a great deal of choice and freedom about which order and way you choose to explore.”
And that’s very exciting news, because although Sekiro isn’t set in a specific real-life location, the places we’ve glimpsed so far have been incredibly atmospheric and we can’t wait to get a better look.
For instance, when caught up in the struggle that loses him his arm, the Wolf and his young master are seen in some beautifully windswept grasslands, and later fights show ancient temples wreathed in red maple leaves, quiet bamboo groves, and even a sinister rocky chasm inhabited by a gigantic snake.
We also know that vertical exploration will be a thing, since pretty early on in the game the main character obtains a prosthetic arm with a grappling hook, which allows him to access high places that can’t be reached in any other way.
And who knows what sorts of incredible secrets could be concealed in the stunning world of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice…
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