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Sekiro: Shadow Die Twice – Live and Die by the Sword

The bushid ō , ‘the way of the warrior’ in Japanese , is an ancient code of ethics by which samurai warriors ruled their lives. It demanded complete dedication and righteousness both physically and spiritually, and failure to comply meant taking on the loss of honor and taking his own life , the seppuku .

In Sekiro: Shadow Dies Twice the protagonist is not a samurai but a shinobi , a mercenary ninja who has failed his lord and whose steel cries out for revenge. As he moves through the shadows, the player must adopt the straight path of the samurai if he is to face the dangers that await him.

After the success obtained with Dark Souls and Bloodborne and having raised the standard of video games , FromSoftware joins Activision to grow into a title in which its signature is almost palpable, but that reaches further than its peers. The first thing you might expect from one of their games is an above-average difficulty ; one of those challenges that frustrate and make you curse life and want to throw the controller against the screen (mission accomplished) .

Blood and ash in the Japan of the samurai

History places us in the Sengoku period , one of the most turbulent and violent in feudal Japan in which the great lords ( daimyo ) fought for control. In a context of war and death, we put ourselves in the shoes of the ‘one-armed wolf’ ; a ninja who failed to defend his young lord and must win him back from the clutches of the Ashina clan. This solo mission will take us to the highest of castles and the humblest of villages. The atmosphere achieved by the surroundings and the music make you immerse yourself in the story at surprising levels .

The visual aspect seems to have taken care of every detail. The aesthetics of ancient Japan are faithfully and realistically recreated in an overflowing and brutally beautiful setting. The reddish tones have a prominent place, either in the leaves that fall with the first winter winds or in the blood shed during the trip. In addition, a respectful balance has been achieved between the historical fidelity of weapons, armor and combat techniques and the mythological creatures of the old Japanese country (see ogres, tengu demons or giant snakes). Hidetaka Miyazaki has personally directed the game and his hand is noted in the care he put in.

Hit, defend, jump, kill

It is said that being a master katana master takes more than fifty years of hard training . Although at times it recalls the mythical Yojimbo (1963) by Kurosawa, Sekiro SDT does not offer fights at dusk in which the looks cut as much as the swords, but the action is frantic and continuous . The combat system takes the mechanics of Dark Souls to a new level by offering a number of tools and techniques that must be combined and adapted according to the situation.

To the basic movements of attack, defense, combo and dodge , the option of jumping, hook and stealth is added to give rise to a more agile system in which the player uses his environment as a weapon or defense and in which to stab from behind or hiding from enemies is as valid an option as any other. To the inseparable katana of the shinobi are added the different items of the mechanical arm (ax, shuriken, flamethrower, shield …) and a series of traditional Japanese weapons in the hands of our enemies: the bow, the teppô or Japanese arquebus, the spear of long shaft naginata or the nodachi , an impressive katana over a meter and a half long that was wielded with two hands.

Any opponent, from the corrupt monk to the worst equipped samurai , can end up posing a problem and make things very difficult for the ‘one-armed wolf’. Enemies interact with each other and respond to the player’s actions, so standing before them with katana in hand may not be the best option . The protagonist is a disgraced and bloodthirsty ninja, there are no red lines when it comes to fulfilling his objectives. The player must assess all the options and plan the strategy that best suits his style.

The 7 virtues of the warrior

Sekiro: Shadow Dies Twice is that plank that you have to break with the one-inch punch ( Bruce Lee style ), a wall that you can topple with your head, a heavy weight that hits and hits without giving a second of rest . He is capable of pushing the player to his limits and testing his patience and abilities. But who said life was easy? The path of revenge is long and stormy, and he who undertakes it must know what to expect. Sekiro SDT requires perseverance, intelligence, strategic ability and adaptation to change and the desire to keep getting up and pressing that ‘Resurrect’ button no matter how many times you have fallen at the same point.

Sekiro is the bushid ō made a video game. A commitment to yourself and an honorable way to live and die for the katana .

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