Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice" Review

Refusing to be pigeonholed after taking over the world and defining a new genre with its "Souls" series, From Software opens up a new chapter with "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice." As elegant and methodical as its previous games were rigid and urgent, "Sekiro" seems like From's attempt at a storytelling magnum opus.

Set amid the hyperviolent strife of 16th century Sengoku Japan, "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice," the game employes every bit as much devastating challenge as the likes of the "Dark Souls" franchise, but the difficulty enhances the story rather than bottlenecking.

Narrative and emotional storytelling rise to the top, with freedom of movement taking precedence over restrictive control schemes. The ways to attack, scale and traverse are open, enriched with a "Hitman"-style sandbox nature that allows you to decide how to approach each challenge.

As you advance through the game, you'll find yourself adapting to varied playstyles and rhythms depending on the demands of the area. Skills such as stealth, platforming, measured assault and defense-favoring skillsets fall in and out of favor depending on the demands of the environment and mission, as well as your chosen approach.

While standby attributes of "Souls" games remain -- including an at-time arduous checkpoint system that requires you to backtrack through some trying portions -- there is so much new here that there's no mistaking "Sekiro" with anything lurking in From's past. The signature feel and touch of the skilled developer continues to thrive, making "Sekiro" feel like a grand evolution rather than a serendipitous one-off.

"Sekiro" is not only a new direction for From Software, but a bold and adventurous new direction for the action RPG in general. Shadows of the past fall to the wayside for a thrilling new vision, basking in its opportunity int he limelight.

Publisher provided review code.

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