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.

Entertainment

TWICE, BLACKPINK part of Just Dance 2020 lineup

Dance to Fancy and Kill This Love!

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To celebrate 10 years of making gamers move, Just Dance 2020 is adding some popular asian music to their lineup. In particular, hit songs from two of the most popular K-Pop girl groups today made the lineup — TWICE’s Fancy and BLACKPINK’s Kill This Love.

Joining those two tracks are these other chart toppers:

God Is a Woman — Ariana Grande
Skibidi — Little Big
Vodovorot — XS Project
Bangarang — Skrillex Ft. Sirah
Con Calma — Daddy Yankee Ft. Snow
Bad Boy – Riton & Kah-Lo
High Hopes — Panic! At The Disco
Sushi — Merk & Kremont
I Like It — Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin
Policeman — Eva Simons Ft. Konshens
Rain Over Me — Pitbull Ft. Marc Anthony
365 — Zedd & Katy Perry
Con Altura — ROSALÍA & J Balvin Ft. El Guincho
Fit But You Know It — The Streets
I Am The Best (내가 제일 잘 나가) — 2NE1
Old Town Road (Remix) — Lil Nas X Ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
Só Depois Do Carnaval — Lexa
Taki Taki — DJ Snake Ft. Selena Gomez, Ozuna, Cardi B
The Time (Dirty Bit) — Black Eyed Peas
Just An Illusion — Equinox Stars
Baby Shark — Pinkfong
Bassa Sababa — Netta
My New Swag (我的新衣) — VAVA Ft. Ty. & Nina Wang
Tel Aviv — Omer Adam Ft. Arisa
Ugly Beauty (怪美的) — Jolin Tsai

New and returning game modes

The new mode recently announced is the All-Stars Mode. This will allow the players to rediscover and progress through 10 iconic songs from 10 years of Just Dance, to unlock an exclusive song at the end.

Making a return is the Co-op mode which will let players to team-up to combine their scores. There’s also an enhanced recommendation system enables players to choose among a personalized offering of their most loved Just Dance content. In addition, players can create their own playlists to customize their Just Dance parties.

The other modes are as follows:

Sweat Mode: Players can exercise while having fun with the Sweat Mode! They can track their calories burned, time spent dancing, and keep themselves motivated with their dedicated sweat playlists.

Kids Mode: The dedicated Kids Mode allows the youngest players to enjoy it in full with 8 new kid-friendly curated songs, accompanying a fun dance experience tailored to kids’ needs.

Just Dance Unlimited: The Dance-on-demand subscription streaming service gives access to 500+ songs and more! Every copy of the game comes with one month’s access.

To make the game more accessible, there’s also the Just Dance Controller app. Players can use their smartphone to navigate in game, track and score their moves. Up to six players can play with their phones simultaneously. The application is available for free on iOS and Android.

If you’ve been looking for a game that you can play with friends and family this holidays, look no further than Just Dance 2020. The game will be available on PS4 Pro, PSR and the Xbox One family of devices on November 5, 2019.

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Gaming

PUBG Mobile has a host of surprise gifts this Diwali

Burst in-game crackers!

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Diwali is a very auspicious festival in the Hindu calendar and is comparable to Christmas in India. With the onset of the festive season, everyone is on a shopping spree. Companies are gearing up to send out gifts and streets will be lit up with diyas and lanterns.

The country is also one of the largest markets for PUBG Mobile, and the brand intends to leverage the festive season this year. The game has announced a plethora of in-game offerings as well as physical gifts.

Starting October 19, ‘Diwali Dhamaka Event’ will go live in the game and players need to complete daily missions to collect ‘Diwali Sparklers,’ which can be used to ‘Burst Crackers.’ Bursting these crackers will get you ‘Gift Tokens’ that can be redeemed for exclusive in-game items.

For reference, bursting crackers has been a tradition during Diwali. However, everyone is urged to refrain from bursting actual crackers because it leads to massive air pollution. A virtual celebration is best for everyone.

Progressing up the ladder, there will be three levels and each will offer you up to 25 tokens. Once all the Gift Tokens are collected, players will get a Diwali special in-game item for free. Additionally, few lucky winners will also stand a chance to win physical rewards like TVS Apache Bike, OPPO Phones, gold coins, and more.

In-game offering currently includes a Kurta Pajama Set (traditional clothes worn during Diwali), Cricket Costume, Future Policewoman set, Lobster Set, AWM/M416 gun skins, Crate Coupons, and more. The festivities will be available in-game till November 4.

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Gaming

Blizzard is banning pro-HK Twitch viewers

Don’t say “Free Hong Kong”

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Image source: Twitch

The war against Chinese favoritism continues. Following a massive controversy a few weeks ago, Blizzard shows that it has not learned its lesson at all. The video game publisher is reportedly banning pro-Hong Kong viewers from its Twitch channel.

Blizzard’s games are particularly popular on the streaming platform. Thousands of streamers play World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Hearthstone on Twitch daily. Naturally, Blizzard has capitalized on this trend. Blizzard’s official Twitch accounts broadcast sanctioned tournaments regularly.

This year, Hearthstone’s official account (PlayHearthstone) broadcasted the Master Tour, an international Hearthstone tournament. The most recent European leg is currently ongoing on the platform. That said, the stream’s chatroom was (and is) a huge minefield. Thousands of viewers typed in pro-Hong Kong messages in chat. The outpouring comes from both Hong Kong supporters and dissenters against Blizzard’s blatant pro-China stance.

However, Blizzard already has Twitch on lockdown. As reported by Dot Esports, anyone who typed “Free Hong Kong” automatically received a 24-hour ban from the chatroom. (Though they can still watch, banned users cannot participate in the chatroom for the allotted time.) Moderators also instantly deleted the “offensive” messages.

Image source: Twitch

At the very least, Blizzard isn’t using an automated program to control the chat’s speech. Days after a live match, PlayHearthstone rebroadcasted the same match on the channel. Apparently, a rerun did not warrant enough moderation from Blizzard. During the rerun, thousands of pro-Hong Kong messages flashed in the chatroom without deletion or banning. Blizzard is still taking things manually.

Regardless, the company’s recent censorship is another nail in Blizzard’s made-in-China coffin. Previously, Blizzard penalized the winner of a Hearthstone tournament for including pro-Hong Kong protests in his victory speech. After an ambiguous apology note, the company eased on the punishment and reiterated that China was not involved in the decision.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is taking their other titles to your mobile

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