Recently, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was released for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The game tells the story of a Shinobi during a stylized point of the Sengoku period, attempting to rescue his captured lord. A mixture of strategy and slash, stealth, sandbox and some RPG elements. Upon its release, the game as garnered much praise for its presentation, gameplay, story and combat.
However, the game has received a fair amount of criticism from the gaming community alongside its seemingly universal acclaim.
Developed by FromSoftware, the team behind games the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne and Armored Core. FromSoftware’s games are known for their difficulty, especially both Bloodborne and the Souls series.
The game has no difficulty selection, throwing you into the mercy of trial and error combat.
You will die, and die quite often. I died so many times during my first 20 minutes that I began to wonder, was the game worth the time?
I like challenging games, games that make me feel like the $60 or more that I’ve spent were worth it. The learning curve in this, however, is more brutal than any of their previous games and those games could be damn difficult.
Like the translation of its name same, Sekiro, which means “one armed wolf” in Japanese, is a true single player experience.
Souls and Bloodborne allow for multiplayer for when getting past certain bosses just become seemingly impossible. Players can also leave notes for others to describe certain areas and handling certain bosses. A quick warning to help with the potential decimation of your character.
Sekiro allows none of this. Besides a couple of non-player characters helping you with upgrades here and there, you truly feel alone and against odds.
The debate around the game has to deal with those odds and difficulty.
Should games be so difficult that it destroys the fun or playability for gamers? There are gamers, both hard-core and casual on both sides of the debate.
This has also unfortunately brought in the “Get good!” types who ridicule anyone, even hardcore gamers, who say the game is too difficult to be fully enjoyable.
Sekiro does not need an easy mode. Yes, I said that, despite not being the most welcoming of games, I found myself both liking and despising the difficulty. Even when you seem to think you finally have a handle on the most basic parts of combat, blocking and knocking an enemy off balance to retaliate, you will still find some other human or beast that will kill you.
I do not support anyone with the “get good” mindset that has developed in the gaming community and can understand why some would call for an easier difficulty. That mindset is but one of many problems that have been growing within certain parts of the gaming over the years.
If you have the time and the right mindset, the game can eventually be beat. In my case, both working and attending school full time, I had to play the game in incriminates.
This was not something I could sit and play for hours at a time. Often times dying multiple times at sub-bosses, bosses and some high grade enemies left me extremely frustrated. Yes there are moments of which I wanted to toss my controller at my television or console.
However, I would simply either restart from my last checkpoint, think about how I approached the situation before and try again. Or I would just turn the game off and try again at a later time, ultimately finishing the boss that made me question why I was not returning the game.
The games director, Hidetaka Miyazaki hopes the game will teach players, “How to overcome the odds, and in so doing gift ourselves with a sense of pride and achievement.”
Just like the sports I play or the art skills I have learned over the years, there is a since of learning, growth and almost mastery upon learning the techniques and applying them correctly. Being able to use a game to teach such challenges could be a welcome thing to those who normally do not attempt such things.
A video game is not required to hold your hand, nor should the director have to alter his creative vision for the sake of ease. Certain artists will stand by certain versions of their work, refusing to change certain aspects of it because it could wind up altering the message it is being used to deliver.
There are plenty of other games out with less difficult learning curves.