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

How to git gud at Mobile Legends from Blacklist International

Bring out your notepads…

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School is in session. If you’re into Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, you know Blacklist International. The recent MPL PH Season 7 champion team has a decent rep in the mobile gaming world. So, if you want to get good, you’ll definitely get good-good. And, who better to give us the best tips than the QueenVee, Ohmy.v33nus, himself?

TIP #1 – Start small

When asked how to hit it right with the basics, Ohmy.v33nus answered with pretty solid advice saying: “When it comes to improving your gameplay, do it one step at a time. Players can try mastering one hero or one role at a time first. From there, you can best strategize how you plan to win your game better.”

TIP #2 – Know you to do you

Beginners are faced with almost as many daunting questions as ordering sugar and ice levels for boba when it comes to who to play. From characters’ skills, roles, and abilities in the grander scheme of the team game, it can get overwhelming.

So the best way to get better is to know who you want to play and what role suits your preferences. And like Ohmy.v33nus said, “Knowing the role that suits you is important, some players love playing heroes in melee combat, some in long-range or using magical powers.

TIP #3 – If you want to go pro, you’ve got to play harder

We asked what advice the team had for people who are starting out and want to maybe go pro in the future. He answered by saying, “what separates casual players from those wanting to take it seriously is ranking, so if players want to be noticed they can try to achieve a top global ranking.” And, while that’s a technical target goal you can work towards, Blacklist gave sage advice on how to get there.

TIP #4 – The grind

Ranking up to where you’ve proven you take the game seriously to be pro comes with time and effort. So, it’s no surprise when Blacklist followed up TIP #3 with this: “before you achieve that desired ranking, practice makes perfect. When there’s an opportunity to practice, do it. Never stop learning and discovering your battling strategy so you’ll be able to champion your way to the global competitions.”

When asked how often and for how long the team grinds to get to be as good as they are, they practice a minimum of 8 hours per day, extending to up to 10 hours. “This helps us build team dynamics better and strengthen our strategy,” Ohmy.v33nus said.

TIP #5 – Know the meta

If you’ve got all 5 down so far, you’re up for more technical know-how. So, given the ever-changing game meta it can be challenging to keep up. This is where noting patches and updates can be helpful. Keeping track of who has been nerfed, buffed, and adjusted. And, knowing little tweaks Moonton has made in-game can help players adjust and adapt.

It’s also good to note that this is where you’ll be returning to TIPS #1 – #5, where it rides on comfort and familiarity. So, whether you fully grasp the meta or not, you can play however you feel outside the world of going pro.

So, with the current meta, we had to ask Blacklist for their whitelist. Jokes aside, we had them recommend heroes for each role and they said, “Marksman: Granger, Tank: Tigreal, Support: Rafaela, Angela, Assassin: Ling, Fighter: X-Borg, Mage: Nana.” When asked about the top meta hero picks for ranked, they said that they weren’t quite sure with the recent patch. But, they think some of the best heroes last season kept their placement. “Like Mathilda, Yve, Granger, and Harith,” Blacklist said.

TIP #6 — Play on a gaming-capable smartphone

You know that highly-contested-on-who-said-it quote about how when you give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime? Well, think of getting the perfect gaming smartphone as equal to getting yourself a fishing rod to get started on learning how to fish. But, enough silly metaphors.

Ohmy.v33nus aptly said, “it goes without saying that your tools can make or break your game. You need a phone that has the processing power, battery life, storage space, and stunning display to give you long-lasting, smooth, and precise gameplay.”

When asked about particular phones and features the team liked, he said they loved OPPO’s A94 and its AI gaming features. Adding, “our favorite is the Gamer Mode which lets you block off interruptions and notifications so you can focus more on your battle.” Plus, when waiting on important messages, the phone features a Bullet Screen Message that allows users to instantly receive messages without blocking or interrupting the game.

TIP #7 – A gaming phone, stripped

Not all gaming features need to be game-centric. At the end of the day, it’s night. No, kidding aside, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a fun team game and if you’re stripping the game of its fun and the team, you’ve got no one to be or get good with. A gaming phone, stripped without games, are phones, and as good as the OPPO A94’s 48MP AI rear quad-cam matrix and 32MP ultra-clear front camera set-up was, we needed to know if Blacklist had much use for it.

So, we asked how important camera specs and features were to team members when picking out a gaming phone. Ohmy.v33nus replied saying, “a lot. We don’t only focus on gaming, as professional players; we also create content and stay active on social media for fans, family, and friends.”

The OPPO A94 Features:

Display — 6.43-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED display, 90 Hz refresh rate, 409 PPI

Processor — MediaTek Helio P95 octa-core processor

Storage — 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage

Camera — Quad rear cameras: 48MP F1.7 (primary), 8MP F2.2 (ultra-wide), 2MP F2.4 (macro), and 2MP F2.4 (portrait); Selfie camera: 32MP

Operating System — ColorOS 11.1

Battery – 4310mAh, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0

Price and availability

OPPO A94 comes in Fantastic Purple, Crystal Silver, and Fluid Black. It has a price tag of PhP 13, 999 and can be purchased via OPPO Brand Stores nationwide, Shopee, and Lazada.

TIP #8 – Lastly, soft skills and heart

When asked for advice for aspiring pros on what they can work on, Ohmy.v33nus said, “since ML:BB is a team game, a crucial soft skill you can develop is communication. Being clear and precise with teammates not only helps in-game strategies but also helps strengthen the synergy between them and their teammates.” Going on to say, “keep your heart in the game. Keep practicing and play regularly to boost your skills to achieve top leaderboard spots.”


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and OPPO Philippines

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Gaming

PlayStation 5 is Sony’s fastest-selling console ever

Surpasses 10 million units sold

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Given how scarce the console is right now, it doesn’t feel like the PlayStation 5 is selling like hotcakes. Regardless, it’s still going really well for Sony. Despite seeming (and announced) shortages, the new console has already reached a milestone for the company, making the PlayStation 5 its fastest-selling console in history.

In an official release, Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 has surpassed 10 million units sold all over the globe. Since the console was released less than a year ago (November 2020), the PS5 has already set the record as Sony’s fastest-selling console. It is currently on pace to outsell the previous generation, the PlayStation 4.

To further increase the hype for the console, Sony has also reiterated the list of exclusive titles that it is anticipating for the PS5: God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Gran Turismo 7. Besides this impressive roster, the console will also get a number of anticipated titles on the platform: Deathloop, Battlefield 2042, and Far Cry 6.

However, despite the push for a thriving PlayStation 5 ecosystem, the console is still a rare sight today. For one, the launch (and potentially even today) was plagued with an endless drove of scalpers sucking the well dry from eager gamers. Similarly, Sony has forecasted that an ongoing chip shortage might extend well into 2022.

Though the console’s performance is truly impressive, it might take a while before it reaches every willing buyer’s living room.

SEE ALSO: Why you should buy the PlayStation 5!

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Gaming

Long-teased cat game Stray finally gets a release date

Plus a gameplay trailer

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For most followers of the industry, the gaming world often has holy grails, or games that have long been promised but haven’t seen the light of day yet. In recent history, the world’s most renowned holy grails are the doomed P.T. from Hideo Kojima, the mysterious GTA 6, and Elder Scrolls 6. However, in a smaller scale, an enigmatic cat game has enamored cat-loving gamers for years. Finally, Stray, after being announced in last year’s PlayStation 5 showcase, has a release date.

Last year, Annapurna Interactive shared a cinematic trailer for the upcoming game, teasing its arrival for the PlayStation 5. However, the game fell to silence for months. Finally, the publisher revealed a gameplay trailer for the cat simulator game.

As expected, Stray will be an action puzzle game, helping the main cat-tagonist survive an unfamiliar sci-fi world. At the start, the game shares the same mood as the Little Nightmares series: an oft-powerless character relying on their puzzle-solving skills to advance. However, the trailer reveals more progression coming in the form of cybernetic attachments which will give the cat more abilities.

At the end of the trailer, Blue Twelve, the game’s developers, confirmed that the game is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC sometime in early 2022.

Stray remains one of the more anticipated small games of recent history. For years, the developer teased the upcoming cat simulator game through a short, short trailer. Hype has persistently seesawed back and forth from the same trailer without an update from the developer. Thankfully, that has now changed.

SEE ALSO: Death Stranding Director’s Cut set to arrive on the PlayStation 5

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