Underneath my yellow skin

Sekiro: it all comes down to this

Ed. Note: I am firmly in the end game. There will be spoilers galore in this post. I have many emotions, and I will share them all with you. Well, as many as I can before I run out of steam. 

let them fight for me!
I’m just an innocent bystander here.

It has been a long haul, but I am finally at the end of the game. Sort of. How do I know? Because I reached the point where I had to make first decision about which ending I wanted. I will confess that I have been looking up story beats along the way because I really did not want to unknowingly lock myself out of certain endings. FromSoft games are well known for having multiple endings and for some of those endings needing ridiculously elaborate setup. In addition, if you don’t do certain things at certain points of the game, you won’t be able to access certain endings.

OMIGOD!

I just learned there’s an item in the game that allows you to immediately die and return to life with 50% health and the rest of your resurrections are unblocked. I mean, I knew this item existed, but I never knew what it really did–per yooz with the cryptic item descriptions–and now, I’m kicking myself for not looking it up. Well, I was until I really discovered what it meant. If you use the item (or the item that allows you unlimited uses) on the boss (which is the only way I can see it being useful), you will have to rez once, but your other two rezzes will be unlocked. Yay! Right? Yeah, no. If you die to the boss, then the last rez will be blocked. So you have to use the item each time you’re about to die, which is more than my tiny brain can handle. There are times when it would be feasible, especially as it’s instantaneous, but I’m just not that quick on my feet. Ah, well. I’ll try it out and see if I can make it work.

Anyway, I made my way through Ashina Castle (Dusk), and everything was different. Same, but different! My Divine Confetti farming section was the Upper Tower – Antechamber. I would start at the idol, Deathblow an Ashina Samurai, then another, then an old lady, then another Ashina Samurai. All of those are Deathblows. Then, an enemy I will call Ashina Elite Patrol Guy. Deathblow him, kill the Ashina Samurai by fighting him, grapple up into the ceiling, drop down in another room for a Deathblow on a plebe, kill the old lady, race back to the first room, grapple up, get everyone back in their set place. Drop down into the second room, battle the Ashina Elite Patrol Guy. Go to the stairs, Deathblow the first Ashina Samurai, fight the other to the death.

I did this probably hundreds of times to farm Divine Confetti. I had it down to roughly three minutes per run. It was where I farmed for DC and to rack up Skill Experience Points. At a certain point in the game (fairly late), Ashina Castle is invaded, and IGN calls it Ashina Castle (Dusk), so that’s what I’m calling it as well. My favorite farming area now looks like this. Kill the first Ashina Samurai by Deathblow (the same), then sneak up to the Interior Ministry Ninja (in royal purple) and Deathblow him. Then, I would use the Puppeteer Ninjitsu on his ass so he would fight for me, not against me. The old lady and the Ashina Samurais were gone, so I would just bust open the paper screen between the walkway (where I was) and the war room. I would run through the war room to get the Ashina Samurai and the Ashina Elite Patrol Boy riled up, plus the Interior Ministry Ninja who’s hiding in this room, and then they would all fight each other, including my puppet. I can tell which one he is by his glowing purple eyes.

I’d race into the second room, kill the plebe and the old lady, then bring the other enemies back to the main room so they were all fighting each other. I’d stand back and watch, occasionally slicing when I thought one side needed a hand, and this is now my new DC/Skill XP farming area. The Interior Ministry Ninja give almost 700 XP per kill (as opposed to the Ashina Samurai who give 79), so it’s a lucrative little farming spot.

I will admit to a bit of Sekiro fatigue. It always happens when I’m in the end game because I gorge on them and over-satiate myself, but I can’t stop playing. This game is even more engaging than the rest, and I really want to gut it out. But, I’m tired. It’s so unrelentingly brutal, I feel as if I’ve gone through ten rounds by the time I’m done with one boss fight. Or one new area. I rarely feel overpowered–unless I go back to the very beginning. The highs are indescribable, but the lows are pretty low as well.

Anyway. Back to the the endings.

*SPOILER WARNING*

Yes, I know I put a spoiler warning at the beginning of the post, but I wanted to double it up because this is end game shit.

I made my way to the top of Ashina Castle once again. This was where I fought Genichiro, and I knew there was going to be something there. I wasn’t exactly sure what, but I was pretty sure it was going to be epic. It was my adopted father, supposedly dead, talking to Lord Kuro. I got to the top before I made it into the upper castle, so after listening to my father and Lord Kuro talk, then talking to my father and him asking me to pick a side–his or my lord’s, I backed away and did the rest of the Ashina Castle (Dusk) before returning.

you're not the boss of me, father!
Dad is NOT happy with me.

I knew this decision was going to lock out certain endings either way, and I was tempted to do the save file/copy things so I could do all four endings at one time. I didn’t, though, because it’s not the way I play. No shade because to go back and play four times seems almost unimaginable. I was seriously tempted, but I didn’t. I knew what my decision would be because it was what I wanted to do in the first place. I refused to follow the Iron Code, and my father was, shall we say, very disappointed in me.

Before I tell you what happened next, let me tell you about the ending I locked out. I figured if I agreed to follow the code, I would have to fight Emma and Issin (with or without my father by my side) because they would be sworn to protect Lord Kuro until the end. If that’s the case, then this is the first time that choosing one ending over another means mutually-exclusive bosses. What I mean is that I don’t think I will have to fight those two having chosen the route I have (though I may be wrong), which is kind of a bummer. I played each of the Dark Souls games at least half a dozen times, and I played DS III close to two dozen times. In other words, I didn’t care so much about endings because I knew I’d play them several times each*.

However. I don’t think I’ll play this game again. I can’t say for sure, of course, but I really feel like it might be a one and done. It’s by far the most brutal of the games, and it’s taken every ounce of me–and I know there are harder bosses to come. In addition, there isn’t much for replayability except for the different endings. Yes, you can choose different skills, but there are no choice of weapons, armors, or classes. I do use different skills from time to time, but honestly, I don’t pay much attention to all that. You can get the same Ninjutsu tools and prosthetic tools for each run, and you can swap them out at will, so that won’t change run to run. NG+? I shudder to even imagine it.

Back to my father. He’s very disappointed in me, which means, of course, that we have to throw down. He hits hard. Very very hard. And he’s super-aggressive. However, his moveset is pretty predictable, and he’s not as nearly infuriating as Genichiro. Except for the fact that he breaks my posture so quickly, and one swipe of his sword can do half my health. I tried him a couple times, and he was seemed beatable, though frustrating. Except when he broke my posture in a few swipes and then killed me. I didn’t care for that at all. I checked a few videos and walkthroughs, and one suggestion was to keep running around, bait out one or two of his more punishable attacks, then use Whirlwind slash to hit him twice before backing off. I was pleased to see I had grasped the basic concept of waiting for one of his two most punishable moves and getting in a lick or two before backing off. The only thing I was missing was the Whirlwind Slash, which I quickly swapped in for whatever Combat Skill I had.

I got to his first Deathblow in under ten tries. Believe me. That’s good for me. He fell to his knees and then pleaded for mercy. When I took a step towards him, he admonished me for being gullible, and he exploded with something and came at me again. I was prepared for it to take several dozen more tries, but a funny thing happened. His second form was actually easier than his first for whatever reason. He kept the same moveset, and the only difference I could tell was that he substituted the Lloyd’s Talisman** hand grenade for a poison bomb. Either way, it made no difference and I got him on the first try (second phase, I mean). As I gave him the Shinobi Execution he deserved, he told me he was pleased with me after I told him he taught me well. I finally got my father’s approval! Too bad I had to kill him to get it.

let's do this!
The eternal father-son conflict.

Once I was finished, I looked up the endings one more time. I had already locked out one ending, the supposed ‘bad ending’, and I wanted to make sure I knew when I locked out the others. As far as I can tell, it’s not until the very end, but there are several things I have to do if I want to walk down any of the three remaining paths. I’ve done the bulk of two of them, and I’m not sure I can move forward with one of those two because an NPC won’t do what she’s supposed to do. I know there is one more major area with one path (and, I think all of them include this area now that I locked out the bad ending?), and I have to say that I’m not looking forward to it.

I know that I’ve reached the end of my patience with the game because every mini-boss I see, I sigh in impatience. Especially since many of them are the same as (or similar to) another mini-boss. I’m sure there are lore reasons for it, but it just feels like padding and a way to artificially inflate the difficulty–which isn’t necessary! The game is plenty hard! The game has so much difficulty! There’s no need to litter it with carbon copy mini-bosses! There are FOUR of one mini-boss. FOUR. I’ve done two, and I can’t be stuffed to do the other two. I guess it’s fine when the duplicates are avoidable, but it still just gets tiresome to keep tripping over them.

I love this game. It’s fucking brilliant and amazing. Barring the ending(s), I’m willing to say it’s the best FromSoft game to date. I’m tempted to do the save thing now because these three endings are all pretty much interchangeable until a certain point, but it still doesn’t feel right to me. If I do play again, I may do it then, but for now, I want to have my one true Sekiro experience. It’s how I roll, baby; it’s how I roll.

 

 

 

 

*Except the original. After I finished it for the first time, I was done with FromSoft games. For life! Oh, how naive I was then.

**Or whatever it’s called in this game. It blocks your ability to heal.

 

 

 

 

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