Gaming

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review

A game of skills and patience… lots of it

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From Software is the game developer behind the widely popular Bloodborne and Dark Souls series. Two years after their last release, Dark Souls III comes a fresh new game: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

If you’ve been in the gaming world for some time now, you would know that the Dark Souls and Bloodborne games have quite a cult following. Referred to by fans as the “Soulsborne” games, they are known for their difficult, stress-inducing gameplay and fans expect nothing less from the company’s newest addition, Sekiro.


And boy, did they get more than what they were expecting.

Travel back in time

Set in what seems to be a fantasized version of a war-torn, 16th century Japan, you are a shinobi tasked to rescue your master, Kuro the Divine Heir. He was kidnapped by the Ashina Clan because Kuro’s bloodline is believed to carry magical properties. This is what the Ashina clan want to use to win the war. In a fight to save Kuro from being kidnapped, your shinobi loses his arm and is left for dead.

You awaken at a dilapidated temple in front of a sculptor who appears to have saved you and fitted you with a prosthetic arm. It is with this and your sword that you journey and fight through this eerily beautiful version of Japan to save Kuro.

I started playing this game leaving all expectations behind and I was immediately overwhelmed. To say that Sekiro is a difficult game would be such an understatement. It’s been a while since a game has made me rage quit but I don’t take this against the game. It honestly made playing so much more fun and rewarding.

In a world of add-ons, DLCs, and micro-transactions to enhance your character or game, Sekiro depends on skill; every flinch, tap, or evade matters in battle. It’s akin to a dance with swords and weapons with the slightest misstep causing you to die a brutal death.

The price of dying

Because you were blessed by Kuro with his blood, you’re able to resurrect. But at a price. Each death takes away your skill points (which you use for the skill tree) and money — making unlocking skills with higher skill point requirements and buying items a strategy all to itself.

From time to time, you will receive the blessing of Unseen Aid which will preserve these. But in addition to losing your points and money, there is also the possibility of inflicting a disease called Dragon Rot onto the world. It not only burdens your conscience but also lessens the chance of getting Unseen Aid. Don’t worry, the Dragon Rot can be healed so you won’t have to carry this “guilt” throughout the whole game.

Proper posture

In Sekiro’s world, there’s a new battle system that makes use of Posture and Posture Breaking. You and your enemy both have Posture bars that increase as you attack, parry, and counter. Once the bar is full, you can perform a stylish kill called a Deathblow. And while you can whittle away at your opponent’s health bar, the Posture system is so much more effective and definitely more satisfying to watch.

Not attacking your enemy causes their posture to recover, making the battle longer. It’s a challenge to find the correct balance between offense and defense; I had to adjust to each enemy and boss I found. There is no one strategy. You may think you’re getting good at the game and then it throws this new boss at you and you’re back to square one.

Prosthetic prowess

As you journey forth, you’ll find parts and raw materials to upgrade your prosthetic arm. Protip: You shouldn’t give up exploring despite this not being an open-world game. There were many times early in the game that I would miss important items because I wasn’t aware that some summits were accessible. Do not disregard the environment. What may seem like backgrounds may actually be climbable mountains and cliffs that may hold precious items or people with information.

Each upgrade to your arm will not only give you more ways to fight but will also give you advantages on some specific enemies. The firecracker upgrade, for example, will help you scare beasts that enemies use. On the other hand, the use of your arm, apart from your grappling hook, is limited. Spirit tokens dictate how many times you can use a specific skill. Some skills require more tokens than others so, again, it’s a matter of skill and strategy on how to use them.

Final thoughts

It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoyed playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Despite its steep learning curve and frustratingly difficult battles, it was a game that gave me such fulfillment and pride. The feeling of achievement after dealing the final Deathblow on a boss that I repeated for who knows how many times is so satisfying, it literally made me jump up and down.

If you’re not a hardcore player, I still believe it’s a game worth picking up. Be patient and play the game knowing that there is a possibility that you may not finish it or that it may take you days to get past the first few bosses. It’s a game with a beautifully rendered world, haunting stories and characters, and a fresh combat system that will leave you feeling rewarded with every deathblow and perfect parry.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice distanced itself from the Soulsborne games just enough that it created something that is both familiar and new, amassing a number of fans, new and old. This will definitely be a game that will be talked about through the years.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was released on March 22, 2019 and is available for the PS4, Xbox, and PC.

Features

A beginner’s guide to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Wizards, unite!

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Niantic, Inc. has just rolled out its brand new game to over 150 countries worldwide over the weekend. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is also a location-based game that uses augmented reality and builds on the current platform of the company’s games Pokémon Go and Ingress.

Quick disclosure: I’m far from being a Potterhead so I might not get the right terms related to the franchise in this article. Although, I’m a long-time and current player of Pokémon Go hence I checked out Wizards Unite.


Onto the game itself. If you’re like some players I know who would rather just get to the game right away and skip the numerous pages of introduction and dialogues, the main plot of the story is pretty simple. A mysterious event called Calamity has struck resulting in certain magical items and beings to scatter in the real world.

It is your job as part of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force to bring these items, people, and creatures back to the Wizarding World and complete your registry. This registry acts like your Pokédex and tells you what you have and things to look out for.

Throughout the game, you will come across different terms, items, and structures. Let’s take a quick look at the basic elements of the game:

Professions – Just like in the books and movies, you can choose from three types of professions once you reach level six. These are Auror, Magizoologist, and Professor.

Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and complements the other two during battles. It’s important to note that you can later on switch professions if you wish to but the upgrades already bought could no longer be reattributed.

Confoundables vs Foundables – In Wizards Unite, foundables are those you hunt down to bring back to their proper time and location. Meanwhile, you banish the confoundables that are responsible for getting the foundables stuck in our world.

Casting Spells – In order to banish confoundables, you need to cast spells by accurately tracing the pattern shown on your smartphones. There are about ten spells available as of the time of writing but the company says they will eventually be adding more. In addition to accuracy of tracing, speed also plays a big part to achieve a “Masterful” trace (there’s Fair, Good, Great, and Masterful).

Spell Energy –  You’ll need to have spell energy to cast spells. Initially, you’re allotted up to 75 energy points and you use them whenever you try to cast spells on the confoundables. When it reaches zero, it’s basically the equivalent of running out of Pokéballs and you could no longer “catch” foundables.

Structures – Structures like Inns and Greenhouses are your way of getting more spell energy and ingredients to make useful potions. Inns will give out energy by dining in them, while Greenhouses churn out ingredients to make different potions. So playing in areas densely populated with Inns and Greenhouses will ensure you have the resources for a more efficient grinding session.

There’s a third kind of structure and it’s the Fortress. A fortress is a place where up to four friends can join forces and battle together different sets of magical creatures to further upgrade their abilities and come across rarer entries for the registry. Every tier gets tougher and tougher so it encourages players to team up with new players and overcome stronger foes.

Potions – As mentioned earlier, you can concoct your own potions by getting ingredients from Greenhouses. As per usual, these potions vary with different effects and can be used in battles either to heal yourself, make the spell more effective, or prevent the foundable from departing away and missing the chance to add it to your registry.

Portkeys – To get you moving while playing the game, you’ll be able to collect Portkeys that only open after walking certain distances in the real world. Right now there are 2KM/5KM/10KM variations of Portkeys and once it’s opened, it has the power to bring you to different locations so you can collect items and even XP.

Now that most of the basics have been covered, here are some tips to keep in mind while playing based on me and my wife’s experiences.

  • Download all assets as soon as you can. This will make loading times faster while performance will be more stable.
  • Turn on Trace Auto-Align to make encounters with AR slightly faster
  • An Inn with a green color serves up to 10 energy points, purple and blue give up to seven, brown up to six, and a pink one only dishes out a maximum of three energy points.
  • Master Notes are secret patterns that reduce brewing time of potions. Figure it out by checking the available patterns at the Potions Info page.
  • As the stages you battle in Fortresses level up, magical creatures grow stronger. Having a friend to fight alongside you will be needed even more so in the higher tiers of Fortress matches.
  • If you see a floating icon with a beam of light above it, it means it’s a high risk foundable with high rewards. Be sure to get it!

  • Use Dark Detectors for rarer foundables to appear, Exstimulo potions against higher risk foundables, and Baruffio’s Brain Elixir before claiming rewards like Portkeys to get double XP.
  • Flags and smoke from Greenhouses and Inns, respectively, signify they’re still on cooldown.
  • Be sure to have enough energy before battling at Fortresses. Quitting during an unfinished session will render the Runestone useless.
  • Turning off AR during encounters is easier for the phone and will save precious battery life.
  • Just keep on playing. Niantic’s games reward players who just keep on exploring new things (or simply staying) in the game.

If there’s anything we missed or if you want to add to these tips, be sure to leave a comment!

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Dr. Mario World is coming to Android and iOS in a few weeks

A classic coming back to life!

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Image credit: Nintendo

After a week from E3 2019, Nintendo has announced the release of its latest mobile game. The Japanese game company has been reviving its classic titles lately and the newest one coming to our phones is Dr. Mario World.

The new Nintendo game for mobile will be available for iOS and Android on July 10 for free. Pre-registration is already open on the App Store and Play Store.


A new trailer for Dr. Mario World gives us our first look at the game. From the looks of it, it’s going to be pretty different yet familiar. Instead of a Tetris-style gameplay where the capsules fall down the screen, Dr. Mario World will require players to drag the capsules on the playing field. Since the game will be played on phones with touchscreens, this approach makes better sense than left-right buttons.

Like most free-to-play titles, the game will have in-app purchases that’ll help players progress in the game. The game also has countdown timers and character customizations.

The original Dr. Mario game came out in 1990 and it instantly became one of the best Nintendo titles. It was originally developed for the NES. It was ported and remade for multiple platforms after.

Source: Nintendo

SEE ALSO: Nintendo reveals new Pokémon games for the Switch

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Gaming

Taiwan Excellence is holding its first esports cup in the Philippines

With a prize pool of P360,000

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Esports continue to grow in the Philippines thanks to the help from both organizations and major brands. The latest to make its mark in the local competitive scene is Taiwan Excellence, which will be holding an esports cup in Manila beginning in July.

With the help of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT), there’ll be a PhP 360,000 prize pool for the expected 2,000 participants from across the country. The featured games are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends (LOL).


Registration for the tournament begins on June 15. The first phase of the competition will start on July 6 for CS:GO and August 3 for LOL. The grand finals will happen from October 4 to 5 at SM North EDSA The Block, Quezon City. Taiwan Excellence’s esports cup was previously held in Malaysia and Thailand.

“Taiwan is known for its breakthrough electronics industry, with renowned innovations and quality products being developed for global distribution. Now with esports, we take pride in sharing that industry-leading brands are from Taiwan, with Filipino gamers,” said C.T. Wu, director of the Strategic Marketing Dept. at TAITRA.

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