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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Release Date: March 22

What is it about the simple sound of samurai swords clashing together – done so masterfully – that makes us want to pick this game up immediately? It could be because it nostalgically resonates with the sounds of From Software’s previous Soulsbourne series, but we’re betting the real reason they made it so satisfying is because players will be parrying their way through hundreds of foes, and that sound will never get old.

Parrying, yes, but actually beating the onslaught of horrifying enemies? Hardly, as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is looking to be From Software’s hardest game yet – and that says oceans. Notorious for coining the phrase “but is it as hard as Dark Souls?”, it’s harder to imagine how they could make any of their games any more gruelling. But the developers are now trying to shake off their previous success and bring something fresh to the table. In doing so, they’ve delivered a brilliant new combat system that quite frankly looks intimidating, and that’s good.

The first huge difference is how vertical Sekiro plays, thanks to Sekiro’s. aka the one-armed wolf, grappling hook that lets you swing around trees and scale up buildings. You’ll need to do that to hide in the, well, shadows in order to sneak up on enemies for a one-hit kill. It won’t waste any of your stamina bar either, because the developers have done away with the stamina bar altogether (hoorah), which means you can jump, dodge, defend and attack to your heart’s content. So far, not so hard, eh? But they’ve also thrown out the RPG element from previous games, meaning no stat upgrades, no stronger weapons, no nothing – just the sword you start with, a customiseable prosthetic arm and your much-needed gaming skills.

It’s intense, especially as the monsters you face, themed around creepy Japanese folklore, only get more difficult to handle. Just so you don’t keep dying way more than twice, players will earn experience from beating enemies, giving them access to three types of skill trees, including shinobi, ashina and prosthetic arts. These skills will help you get the upper-hand in battle, including one that creates a mist of blood upon beating a foe, so surrounding enemies will lose sight of you, giving you a huge advantage to strike with ease. Apart from that, you’re on your own.

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