At this point, I am pretty much done with my backlog of material to post here. That means that my lead time per long post is probably going to be a little longer than the 2-3 day intervals I’ve been following to this point. Sevenfold Gyre part three is about a third done, but fuck, it’s update day, so while I continue grinding that out, today you get a shitpost of a game review.
Those who have been following my Dark Souls series are probably aware that today, From Software released Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Hidetaka Miyazaki’s first game since Dark Souls 3 in a vaguely similar space (technically he also directed Déraciné, but that’s radically different enough that I’m going to ignore it for the purposes of this timeline). As the name might imply: This is not Dark Souls. You’re playing a named character, it’s a stealth game, you don’t do damage–you just need to break the enemy’s poise–the game has a non-historical story (which I’m disappointed about, but only because Dark Souls invented the genre, and I’ve never seen anyone do it as well), the reviews go on and on. Oh yeah, most of that isn’t true, I’m just parroting the takeaways I’ve read online, and it’s actually a double fake, because the big idea is wrong, too: This game is totally Dark Souls.
I can quantify that. Here are the actual differences between Sekiro and Dark Souls (taken broadly, in the “Soulsborne” sense):
- The main character has backstory.
- There is a jump button.
- Enemies block attacks in a way that makes fighting crowds is noticeably more dangerous.
- The advancement systems (equipment, stats) have been replaced with the type of thing you see in Devil May Cry (or equivalent action game).
Fits on one hand. I, for one, am thrilled. That said, it’s very polished, combat is intricate in spite of its very fast pace, and moving around is a joy. By far the most significant of those, though, is the first, and it’s a deceptively small change. At a very surface level, the setting is historical. The Ashina clan was a real clan during the Sengoku period, the named characters don’t appear to have been, but whatever. Below that surface, we’re back to–you guessed it–more Dark Souls, with all of the desolation, bleakness, and lovely, fuzzy vagueness that From Software does so well, which is why it’s so cool that simply adding a pre-existing drive to the player character alters the experience so radically. In a lot of ways, the Souls games were framed, defined by that void, and filling it changes the basis for analysis.
Mind, I have no idea at this point what that analysis is going to look like (I’m only 15 hours in), but man, am I stoked to find out.
Top Image: Gameplay/cutscene footage from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. I do not own it.