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

Razer announces inaugural SEA Invitational 2020

Brought about by esports’ successful stint in the 2019 SEA Games

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Esports is seeing a steady rise in viewership as the COVID-19 pandemic kept everyone indoors. Gaming companies started rolling out their own versions of esports tournaments open to all players, whether amateur or professional. And after its successful stint in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, Razer wants to take esports to even greater heights.

As such, the company announced its inaugural Southeast Asia Invitational 2020, an esports tournament for the best of the best. The tournament organizers hope to gather the best esports athletes across Southeast Asia to prepare them for the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam. It will feature a unique tournament format, and will kick festivities off on June 22, 2020.

The invitational will feature three popular esports titles, two of which were in the 2019 SEA Games lineup. Expect intense and hotly contested action as players take the field in games like PUBG Mobile, DOTA 2, and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. All of these will be available for streaming on Team Razer’s social media platforms: Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

This tournament is also in partnership with Tier One Entertainment, supported by esports federations across the region. Those who wish to participate in the invitational should talk to their respective federations.

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Deals

New PS4 bundles, discounts on Days of Play 2020

Promo period is from June 3 to 16

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Photo by Fabian Albert on Unsplash

Sony PlayStation’s annual promo is back! Days of Play 2020 is here and it’s one of your best chances to snag a PlayStation 4 along with some fantastic titles from recent years.

From June 3, 2020 until June 16, 2020, customers can purchase the following hardware deals from PlayStation Authorized Dealers:

 

  • PS4 Slim (Model: CUH-2218AB01, 500GB HDD), comes with NBA2K20 and Gran Turismo Sport at promotional price of PHP 14,990 — SRP: PhP 19,990

  • PS4 MEGAPACK (Model: CUH-2218BB01, 1TB HDD) at promotional price of PhP 13,990 — SRP: PhP 17,990

  • PS4 Pro God Of War™ / The Last Of Us™ Remastered (Model: CUH-7218BB01, 1TB HDD) Bundle at promotional price of PHP 18,990 — SRP: PhP 24,990

  • PS4 DUALSHOCK 4 Wireless Controller at promotional price of PHP 1,990* — SRP: PhP 2,990)

A bunch of games are also discounted for the duration of the promo!

PS4 Software Title

Promotional Price (PhP)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,299
Death Stranding Standard Edition 2,095
Nioh 2 Standard Edition 2,095
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Standard Edition 1,955
Dreams Universe Standard Edition 1,495
Days Gone Standard Edition 1,495
God Of War™ HITS 765
The Last Of Us™ Remastered HITS 765
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End™ HITS 765
Ratchet & Clank™ HITS 765

For more information visit this official Days of Play 2020 website.

SEE ALSO:
The Last of Us Part II official pricing and availability
Last of Us Part II has a Limited Edition PS4 Pro

 

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Computers

Microsoft Edge has a minigame you can play when offline

Surf’s up!

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Sometimes our Internet connection suddenly drops and we are lured to fall into a fit of rage. If you use Google Chrome, you must be familiar with the offline side-scroller game that has you avoiding obstacles as an 8-bit T-Rex. It turns out that Chrome’s offline minigame is so popular that Microsoft built its own for its Edge browser.

Just like Chrome, Microsoft Edge will suggest a minigame once you’re offline. Unlike Chrome though, there’s no visual indicator telling you that there’s some sort of a game that you can play to pass the time. The prompt for the minigame appears at the bottom of the error page. You have to click the button to toggle the minigame.

Edge’s minigame is actually much more sophisticated than Chrome’s. To begin the game, you press the spacebar and use the mouse or keyboard controls to guide the surfer safely across the open waters. There are a lot of obstacles on the way that you have to avoid. Once you hit an obstacle, you lose a life. Given that you have three lives in the game, you have more chances to score higher than Chrome’s dino game where you’re given only one life.

Of course, the game increases its difficulty by throwing more obstacles as you speed along. Later in the game, giant octopuses will try to catch up with your surfer. You can use various power-ups to outrun these obstacles. The game ends when you lose all of your three lives.

There are also three modes to choose from: “let’s surf”, “time trial”, and “zig-zag”. Each mode has its own mechanics, and the default one is set to “let’s surf”. Aside from choosing the modes, you can also choose from different surfers. Sadly, they don’t have any special abilities whatsoever.

If you’re eager to try out the minigame, you must update the Microsoft Edge to version 83. Once you go offline, you’ll see a prompt inviting you to play Microsoft’s new minigame. But if you’re really excited to play the game, you can type “edge://surf” in the address bar sans the quotation marks. From there, you can start playing the minigame if you fancy.

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