Following its recent release date reveal, FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is keeping the hype train going by releasing its first gameplay footage since it debuted at E3 2018.
The gameplay segment that publisher Activision has released shows shinobi protagonist Sekiro infiltrating a castle in FromSoftware’s particularly twisted vision of feudal Japan, and it shows off a bunch of gameplay mechanics that we’ve heard about but haven’t seen until now.
The first thing you’ll notice in the video is how Sekiro’s grappling hook will work. It looks like grappling is limited to specific pieces of roofs and trees within a certain range, indicated by a green circle.
Gaining a vantage point leads to one of the game’s coolest mechanics: drop-down stealth kills. You can trigger these one-hit kills by leaping onto an enemy and timing the attack button correctly. Sekiro can also perform ledge-based stealth kills by shimmying up to an oblivious enemy and killing him from below. You can also hug walls and wait for enemies to come around the corner for a quick stealth kill, as shown off against an old lady who we’re hoping is infected with some demon spirit or something. Otherwise, Sekiro just murdered an old lady for no reason.
These stealth kills will most likely take out weaker enemies but probably not some of the minibosses shown off during the demo. One such miniboss, the Samurai General, showed off the game’s unique sword fighting. Sekiro is trading Dark Souls’ stamina bar for a guard bar. Both you and the enemy will have separate guard bars. Time your blocks just right and your enemy’s guard bar will start to fill. Top it off and their guard will break, leaving them open to a counter. However, time the guard wrong and your guard meter will start to fill up, leaving you open to a punishing attack. Thankfully, it looks like you can dodge out of danger to let your guard bar reset, though that means you’re giving your opponent time to cool off as well.
The demo also showed off a couple of new prosthetic attachments that Sekiro can utilize in his left arm to give him an advantage in battle. The ax prosthetic delivers a powerful blow that can destroy enemies’ shields and deal massive damage, and a flamethrower-ish attachment can stun and damage enemies, which looks like an especially useful way to open up some of the bigger, tougher enemies you’ll encounter. The flamethrower can also set your sword on fire, making it an even deadlier weapon. In addition, there are shuriken that seem to have infinite usability and are great for taking out ranged enemies like rifleman, but not so great against enemies that can block them, like sword-wielding samurai.
The demo ends with Sekiro taking on a gigantic miniboss called the Chained Ogre. This gives FromSoftware an opportunity to show off the game’s resurrection mechanic. Die once, and you can resurrect. But die again, and you will have to kill at least one enemy to refill your resurrection ability, according to a recent interview from IGN. While there are checkpoints generously littered throughout the demo, resurrecting means that the enemies you’ve taken out won’t reset, nor will a boss’ health bar.
Despite some artistic similarities (and the same “death” sound), Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is looking to be an entirely different beast from its Dark Souls cousins, focused more on action, traversal, and tools than on character builds. The intensity of combat looks the same, but Sekiro has a much more fluid style that isn’t deeply tied to player attributes.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on March 22nd, 2019.