Underneath my yellow skin

End of Sekiro and I can’t play Return of the Obra Dinn

I’ve been romping through NG+ in Sekiro and not being fazed by much of anything. I two-shot Madame Butterfly and got Genichiro in half a dozen tries. The boss who gave me the hardest time was a mini-boss: Seven Ashina Spears–Shikibu Toshikatsu Yamauchi. It’s always the fucking spear guys that mess with my shit. I died to him seven or eight times, and I can’t imagine having to fight him for both Deathblows. By the way, it’s still one of my irritation about the game. Most of the mini-bosses can be stealth Deathblowed to start the fight, so why bother? In fact…I’ll get to that in a minute. No, I can talk about it now. The toughest boss until the very end game was the True Corrupted Monk. In my first playthrough, I cheesed by doing a stealth Deathblow for her first two pips, then just fought her normally for her third phase. I did that by intentionally dying any time I couldn’t pull off the first or second stealth Deathblow, so I ‘died’ to her more times than I actually count as deaths.

This time, I went in for the first stealth Deathblow, and I didn’t get the big red glowing dot. I let myself be killed so I could try it again. I figured I hadn’t lined it up correctly, so I tried it again. And again. I did it half a dozen times before fighting her first phase, then dying in the second phase. I tried it several more times, and I never got it. I mean, I’m not the greatest with spatial awareness, but it wasn’t *that* hard to get the first Deathblow. I finally looked it up, and it turns out they patched it out. Well then. Good to know. I had to fight the first phase the normal way and then try for the second Deathblow, hoping they didn’t patch that one out as well. I did that, and I got her on the first time I made it to the second phase (which did not have the stealth Deathblow patched out), and I moved on.

So, yeah. I was making it through the game at about a tenth of the time it took me on my first playthrough. I did some farming to get the skills I have yet to acquire, and I managed to get the one that costs 9 skill points which took me a goddamn long time. I would do it by going through an area and killing a boss, which at this point, took me tot maybe half a skill point, then I would go to Ashina Castle Antechamber and farm. Or Gun Fort. I would do this until I went past the next skill point and bank it, then I would go to the next area. I accrued a ton of sen in this manner as well, which was really pointless as I have nothing to spend it on except Spirit Emblems. I’ve ended up buying sugars and potions and such because I don’t want to lose the sen, but it’s just luxury at this point.

Side Note: I’ve mentioned that one tip I kept reading about how to survive in Sekiro was to buy coin purses to save your sen. They’re like consumable souls, and you buy them at a 10% markup. You don’t loses the purses upon death, so the rationale is that if you’re, say, going into a boss and know you’ll die a lot, better to have 90% of your sen than none of it. I understand that. I don’t disagree with that. My quibble is with the overemphasize on saving sen. In my first playthrough, I was never hurting for it. Never. If there was something that was a bit more expensive (such as Madame Butterfly’s Phantom Kunai for 3,000 sen, which is a ton at the point in the game when you can buy it), I’d grind for it. My early game grind spot, a stretch of the Hirata Estate, netted me 500 sen in 5 minutes (1,000 with the Mibu Balloon of Wealth), so it wasn’t a big deal.

By the time I was in the late game, I never needed to grind for money. I have hundreds of coin purses, and I’ll never use them all. Granted, I did the grind for other things, either skill points XP or restorative nodes, but never for sen. I will say in my second NG playthrough, I’ve had a bit more difficulty with money because I haven’t done the grind nearly as much. Watching other people play the game and selling consumables (which hurts my heart when it’s something rare like Divine Grass) in order to buy something is an eye-opener. So, yeah, maybe the tip to buy coin purses is good for other people, but I felt like it was a waste for me.

Back to NG+. I was breezing through it. I felt OP for the most part, though I skipped all the Terror-related bullshit. Except the Shichimen Warrior in the Palace Ground waters because he drops a Lapis Lazuli which I needed to max out my Prosthetic Tools upgrades. I took out the one in the Ashina Depths in one go (Phoenix’s Lilac Umbrella is OP, yo!), but this one gave me difficulty because the fighting arena is so narrow. I was able to stealth Deathblow the first node, and I came close to killing him twice when he one-shot me with his Terror bullshit. I got him after a half dozen tries, and the Lapis Lazuli was mine.

By the way, an underrated skill is the Anti-Air Deathblow. It allows you to do a Deathblow on some enemies if they are in the air and you’re in the air. It ignores Posture, which is incredible. Anyway, I was able to use it on the Shichimen Warrior once, but not in the winning run, I don’t think. It was on an attempt where I hadn’t gotten the first stealth Deathblow (which sometimes procks and sometimes doesn’t), but it was still pretty cool. I was able to use it on Okami Leader Shizu (mini-boss with one Deathblow icon) in my first playthrough without realizing it, and I tried it again this time. She nabbed me with the lightning bullshit once, but then I got her on the Anti-Air Deathblow, which was cool.

Side Note II: I fucking hate the lightning bullshit. I know the way to counter it is to jump as they shoot it at you and immediately press RB to redirect it to them. A few things wrong with that. It’s asking that I recognize that’s the attack they’re doing (which is signified with a red kanji symbol above my head, but so are a few other perilous attacks), then time it so I jump as they jump, and then press RB as I’m facing them. That’s way too many things for me to have to do in rapid succession. In addition, sometimes jumping breaks the lock-on. If this happens, then I can’t redirect the lightning back at the sender, and I get super-mad because I actually did everything right and it was still all for naught. This happened to me against Isshin and the Divine Dragon.

After I finished the Fountainhead Palace (except the Divine Dragon), I hit Owl (Father), and it was as if the door had slammed shut. I almost got him on my second try, but then he pushed my shit in over and over again. Everything I hated about the game is concentrated in this one boss fight, and I’ll recap lest you’ve forgotten. One, he hits ten times harder than I do. We have many of the same skills and tricks, but his are infinite and much more effective. He doesn’t have to spend Spirit Emblems to use his abilities, oh, no! There’s a combat art called Shadowrush that when he does to me, decimates my entire health bar. When I do it to him? Well, I haven’t, but I’m sure it would take maybe a sliver of his health. When I Mikiri Counter his ass, it fills a quarter of his Posture bar. When he does it to me? Dead.

He’s relentless, and he can infinitely deflect/block me. As I’ve said, there is no stamina bar in this game, but I still have to take a second to change up my swipes and skills. He does not. He can effortlessly morph from one into another, and yet another again. He can also hit me through pillars, but I cannot do the same to him. And he has one combo that I fuck up every goddamn time, and it one-shots me. The start of it looks like another shorter combo that is good to punish, and if I can’t distinguish the two, it ends up with firecrackers in my face and him slicing me to death.

Can I beat him again? Yes. Do I want to put in several more hours to beat him again? No. If there was summoning, I’d continue on, but there isn’t. Plus, I know that after him, there is the Demon of Hatred, and after him, there is Isshin. Yeah, no. In the other games, once I beat the boss solo, I have no compunction about summoning. The fact that I can’t summon for this game means it’s all on me or it’s not happening.

I am so close to platting it, I can taste it. But, it’s just not worth it for me to go through all that frustration again. I already feel like I suck at FromSoft games, and I don’t want to feel progressively worse about the game–and myself–which is what would happen if I continue to play it. It’s time to move on–now I just have to find something else to obsess with.

I mentioned Return of the Obra Dinn in the title, so let’s talk about that for a bit. There’s not much I can say, unfortunately, because I can’t play the game. The style is old-school computer-looking, which is atmospheric and really cool, but it’s also making me nauseated and gives me a headache as I play. It’s first person, which is another problem. I fiddled with the limited settings, but nothing helps. I checked the forums, and the only suggestion from Lucas Pope (the developer) was to try a gamepad. I was going to do that, but when I thought about playing the game again, my body rebelled.

It’s the same with What Remains of Edith Finch. There’s a section early on in which I became violently ill. I tweeted about how sad I was because I had heard such good things about it. The developer tweeted me saying I should try having the reticula on because that has helped some people. I had already returned the game, but even if I hadn’t, the thought of going back into the game made me queasy. I’m really sad about Obra Dinn because I love the idea of it; I loved the part I played of it; I wanted to play a good murder mystery so bad.

I can’t do it, though. Just the thought of going back into the game makes me nauseated. I need to find another game, but it’s a daunting task for me. Hopefully, it won’t just be me reverting back to Dark Souls III.

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