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.

Gaming

Nintendo planning to launch more affordable Switch this year

Coming sooner than expected

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A report by Nikkei claims that a smaller and more affordable Nintendo Switch is indeed coming this year — during fall to be exact.

This backs up The Wall Street Journal‘s source that says two models are on the way: a pro model and a lite variant. While the former is expected to push better graphics and offer a larger screen, the latter looks to be more compact at the expense of losing the vibration feature.


Fortunately, both should still have TV compatibility for a larger screen to play on. The bigger takeaway, however, is that this lite version might not launch at the same time as the higher-end model, which might be saved for another event this year or next.

It’s possible that Nintendo is discretely making noise for its next batch of handheld consoles after the slew of info we received about Sony’s next-gen PS5 a couple of days ago. Microsoft also made its disc-less Xbox One S official the other day.

These announcements seem timely, with the three major players possibly feeling some heat from Google and Apple, both of which have announced their own push into the gaming realm with cloud gaming solutions and an exclusive app store, respectively.

Via: The Verge

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Gaming

Sony PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

It’s more than just a mere upgrade

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After months of speculation, the time has come for Sony to drop its plans on its latest console. In an exclusive interview with Wired, Sony’s lead system architect Mark Cerny revealed initial details on the upcoming PlayStation 5. Here’s what we know so far:

The new PlayStation console will house a better CPU and GPU to meet the demands of long-time gamers on the system. The CPU will be based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line, with eight cores of its new Zen 2 architecture. It promises to bring better performance and 3D audio capabilities, as well.


Meanwhile, the GPU will be a custom variant of AMD’s Radeon Navi, and will come with ray tracing! Apart from better overall visuals, the GPU now opens support for 8K graphics. To date, no gaming console has ventured into including ray-tracing technologies into their GPUs so it will be interesting to see how Sony will do it.

With games requiring more space to run smoothly and flawlessly, the new PlayStation provides a solution with an upgrade. This time, the PlayStation 5 will come with a solid state drive (SSD) that promises better and faster loading times. Cerny demonstrated the power of the SSD by playing Spider-Man through a PlayStation 4 against a developer’s kit-version for the new console. The results: web-slinging across New York City in under a second for the SSD.

Unfortunately, the PlayStation 5 won’t be available this year and Sony has yet to confirm a release date. The company isn’t expected to make that announcement any time soon since they pulled out of E3 2019. For now, all we can do is simply wait for new details to surface.

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Microsoft’s next Xbox does not have a disc slot

All digital!

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Image source: WinFuture

For the past two to three decades, video gaming has always been associated with compact discs. From then to now, video game stores are lined with cases and cases of discs. Sadly, times are changing. For quite a while now, PC gaming has almost completely moved to digital distribution. Now, video game discs belong exclusively to console gaming. However, the compact disc’s last sanctuary is slowly coming to an end.

Recently, a leak has revealed Microsoft’s latest project — a disc-less Xbox One. Supplemented by detailed renders, the Xbox One S All Digital does not include a tray for discs. Instead, the upcoming console will rely solely on digital downloads and subscriptions. Unfortunately, the leak does not include any other hardware specifications. However, the leaked box art indicates the inclusion of pre-installed games like Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 3. The leak also hints at 4K support and 1TB of internal storage.


Finally, the leak included the device’s release details. The Xbox One S All Digital will retail for EUR 229.99 starting May 7 in Europe.

Albeit strongly supported, the leak still carries a slight bit of uncertainty. Microsoft has not officially announced the device. However, given the industry’s current trajectory, an all-digital console sounds like a logical choice. Google has even announced streaming service Stadia. Unfortunately, the industry’s trajectory does not bode well for the traditional compact discs of old. Say goodbye to scratched disc problems; say hello to more slow internet woes.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft built prototypes of Xbox controllers for mobile

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