Underneath my yellow skin

Sekiro: my final thoughts

Ed. Note: Spoilers. There will be some. 

I have more thoughts on Sekiro, obviously, and I am going to share them with you.  They probably won’t be my final thoughts, but who wants to click on a headline that says, “Read my maundering thoughts about this subject”? Also, my laptop is out of whack right now, so I’m typing this on my desktop. That means I don’t have any of my pictures available, so I’ll probably post videos from other people and be done with it. With that said, let’s get into it.

I’m halfway through NG+. I’m not, really, but that’s my inside joke with myself because for the longest time, I’ve thought of Genichiro as halfway through the game. Hell, I wrote about him as that in the last post, I think. He’s not, really, though. He’s more like a fourth of the way through, depending on the ending. He’s definitely first half, which makes him even more of a hard skill check. I just beat him in NG+, and he still enraged me. This time, however, it was his third form that tripped me up as I made it to the third phase (Genichiro, Way of Tomoe) every time, but that lightning strike fucked me up. I managed to redirect it twice, but more often, I just mistimed my jump or evaded it, and the former did massive Posture and Vitality damage. I got him down to two hits from death in my second try with no heals (did not use the powerful heals), and I got fucking greedy. I cussed him out, and I went again. I got him in six tries, which is less than a tenth of the number of attempts it took me in NG. I found it amusing that it was the third phase that gave me so much trouble when I had no problems with it the first time around. I think I fought him six or seven times in that phase in NG (so, roughly a tenth of the actual attempts), but it was because I was so pissed by that point, I went ham on him. Yes, I know that’s how the game is supposed to be played in general, but it’s not my style. I’m trying; I really am, but I’m still more apt to dodge than attack.

Side Note: I take a perverse amount of pride that I did not master the parry (deflect in this game) and was still able to beat it. It’s the same as the rest of the games. I haven’t mastered the parry in any of them, though I made myself proficient way after the fact in the original Dark Souls against the Silver Knights. Didn’t help me against the Black Knights, though. It was fun to get 90% of my parries, however, after whiffing so many times while I actually played the game. To be honest, I didn’t try to parry after fucking it up a dozen or so times. I know that parrying makes everything easier, but I just couldn’t get the timing down. It’s the same with Bloodborne. All the talk was about the visceral–and the parry needed in order to pull it off. The gun was so important, they said. You’ll want to use it to parry, they said. Ha! Little did they know to whom they were talking. Me, the anti-parry queen! Can’t get through Bloodborne without mastering the gun? Challenge accepted. I did not use the gun hardly at all as I played the game, but to be fair, I was running an arcane build. Which, by the way, do not do on your first playthrough. I knew it was going to be shit, but I’m fucking stubborn. The reason I mentioned an arcane build is because there is a spell, er, Hunter Tool, you can pick up mid-early game, Augur of Ebrietas, that can function as a parry. It’s reaching out tentacles to interrupt a gunshot, and then I could get in my visceral. In fact, few things in that game made me as happy as to yell, “Tentacles to the face!” as I used it.

Side Note to the Side Note: It’s almost a universal opinion that Bloodborne is the best of the FromSoft games (at least before Sekiro), and I strongly disagree. Or rather, it’s not my favorite by far. I can say without reservations that it’s a brilliant game, dripping with atmosphere and everything we’ve come to expect from FromSoft games. But, it just didn’t click with me, and there are a few reasons why. One, hardware. I hate playing on the PS4. I am a PC gal at heart, and I don’t like consoles. That’s it. It doesn’t get much deeper than that, but to expand just a bit, I don’t like having to set things up to play. With my PC games, I can seamlessly go from, say, surfing the internet to playing a game. I don’t have to turn on the PS4, go through a ton of menus, grab the DualShock, and blah, blah, blah. Speaking of which, I hate the DualShock. I know it’s very similar to the Xbox One controller…but it isn’t. The Xboner felt natural in my hands. The DualShock, less so. In addition, I hated farming for blood vials, especially during a boss run, and that really dampened my desire to play Bloodborne. Still. If it were on the PC, I would have played it much more than I have. I’m already further into NG+ in Sekiro than I ever reached in BB.

Speaking of Sekiro (smooth segue back to the actual post, eh?), NG+ is so much easier than NG. Yes, there’s a way to make it harder, but I chose not to do that because I’m not that much of a masochist. Oh! We were talking about parrying. In this game, it’s called deflecting, and it’s supposedly so easy. Plus, since there’s no stamina, you can spam block as much as you want, which means that’s what I do. I might get a deflect out of pity, but it’s not consistent by any means. I gave up fairly early on mastering it, and I did what I always do in these kinds of games–I cobbled together a way of fighting that isn’t optimal, but it works for me. NG+ is easier for several reasons. One is because I’ve already been through everything. It seems obvious, but one of the biggest ‘I’m shitting myself’ factors of these games is because you don’t know what the hell is coming up. A mob of angry and drunk thieves? Two spear dudes with ridiculous moves? A courtyard full of gigantic roosters? That’s all at the Hirata Estate! I’ve died so many times in the game, way more than twice–by the way, no one uses the whole name when talking about the game. It’s just Sekiro–and I know many of the areas like the back of my hand. There are no surprises, at least not in the areas I’ve redone so far.

Side Note II or III: One thing I really like about the game though I wasn’t sure of it at first was how you have to revisit areas throughout the game, and there are significant changes every time you go back. The main one was Ashina Castle, which I have noted in various posts. The first time I visited, it was just…normal. Skilled samurai guarding Lord Isshin’s castle. No biggie, right? It was also one of my favorite farming spots for Divine Confetti and a fair amount of Skill XP. After you do a bunch of shit including beating Genichiro, the castle gets invaded (probably in part because you beat Genichiro), and the whole place is crawling with ninjas. Purple-clad ninjas called Interior Ministry Ninjas. Plus, another Chained Ogre. This is called Ashina Castle (Dusk) in the IGN wikis, which I think is a good way to differentiate it from the earlier stage. Not only do the ninjas fight you–they fight the samurais as well. It can be chaotic, especially when I use the Puppeteer Ninjitsu on a ninja, and he does damage to his ninja brethren as well as the samurais. Later on, after more stuff happens, it becomes night, and the castle is fully under siege by the Interior Ministry. There are red-clad Interior Ministry Guards and Interior Ministry Soldiers everywhere. Everything in the Ashina Castle/Ashina Outskirts regions are now inhabitable, and I had to retrace my steps in order to open them up again. Even so, I couldn’t access every Sculptor’s Idol, which was an interesting concept.

When I do go to areas I don’t know as well, it’s funny how unsure I feel. It’s a bit disorientating, actually. Like, I know the one path in Hirata Estate so well, I could probably do it with my eyes close. Well, probably not, but I can tell you exactly where each enemy is. I go to the next section, and my memory isn’t quite as good. I go to the section after, the one leading to the next Sculptor’s Idol, and I don’t know anything. I’m much more hesitant as I fumble around, and it’s such a stark contrast between confident me and non-confident me.

By the way, I just watched Marz’s newest episode, and I’m shaking my head. She just beat the Guardian Ape on something like her fifth try, which was the first time she saw his second phase. She freaks the fuck out every time she sees a boss, and she’s actually really good at the game. Yes, it took her something like 50 tries to beat Genichiro, but that’s per yooz. I included that video above because she got so pissed off fighting Genichiro. It’s pretty much how I am when fighting a boss, and it’s interesting to see someone else go through it. I want to emphasize that she is way better at this game than I am, and it’s easy to see when I’m watching someone else how shitty I am. That Terror Bullshit by the Guardian Ape got me so many times. Marz never died to it. It took me fifteen to twenty tries just to see the second phase. Yeah, I suck. Why can’t I like hack-n-slashes or something like that? Something that doesn’t grind me down every time I play it and make me feel like I’m shit? Yes, I feel like a god when I beat a boss, but that lasts precisely as long as I don’t continue playing the game. Conversely, yes, additional playthroughs are easier, but the thrill of beating the boss isn’t the same. I will say my heart still raced when I beat Genichiro, Way of Tomoe in NG+ even if I wasn’t as elated as I was the first time around.

I think I’m done with Sekiro for now. I can’t play it at the moment because of the aforementioned laptop issues, but that’s not the only reason. I want to try something else. I’m ready to move on, but it’s become such a habit. Geralt has come to MHW on the PC, which excited the hell out of me when it was first announced, but now, I can’t imagine going back to MHW. I reached the Tempered Elder Dragons and hit a hard wall. I didn’t want to play any more, and I felt I had put enough time into it. I don’t feel the same way about Sekiro, but I am weary. I have more thoughts about it, but I’m done for now.

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