Underneath my yellow skin

Sekiro: the wolf stands alone

Ed. Note: End game. Here lies spoilers. I *will* be talking about the end boss. You know the drill.


for my lord's honor!
Wolf assumes the position one last time.

I stood outside the final arena, taking a minute to ready myself. It was the same area as the first (tutorial) boss fight, and I was pretty sure it was Genichiro one more time. That man just can’t quit me! After I got my ass handed to me by him in the tutorial and Ian went through the same thing, I told Ian* that I wouldn’t be surprised if Genichiro was the last boss. Ian said he would show up again for sure. Well, he did, of course, halfway through the game. He was a hard skill check, and I never came closer to quitting the game as I did while fighting him atop Ashina Castle. When there was a cutscene after his second phase and he morphed into Genichiro, Way of Tomoe, well, I was ready to call it a day then and there.

Going into this fight, I was not feeling it at all. I was exhausted and weary, and I wanted nothing more than for it to all be over. Ian said maybe it would be like Gwyn when I finally reached him in Dark Souls–I got him in two tries. I was a pyromancer, and Gwyn, like all hollows, was weak to fire. With my pyro abilities and Quelaag’s Furysword, I made short work of him. I don’t think I’ve died to him since. I also found Nashandra/Aldia fairly easy in Dark Souls II except for Nashandra’s bullshit curse orbs. I don’t think it took me more than four or five times to get Nashandra and the same with Aldia. Gehrman/Moon Presence in Bloodborne was similarly easy with Gerhman taking five or six tries and two for the Moon Presence. Dark Souls III was different. The Soul of Cinder was a properly hard boss, and it took me a couple dozen tries to get him.

I didn’t think the last boss of Sekiro would be easy, though–especially not the path I’d chosen for the ending I wanted. The last quarter of the game, all of which was after my decision to go against my father, was backbreakingly difficult. It wasn’t any kind of fun or even engaging, and I really didn’t know why I was making myself finish it. I mean, yes, I do. It’s a FromSoft game, specifically a Miyazaki game, and I had my pride, damn it. I wasn’t going to let this game get the better of me, was I? I will fully admit that I was thisclose to calling it a day, and if there had been the ability to summon, I would have.  I would have summoned for the last three bosses and probably Genichiro in the mid-game, and I would have done it earlier and earlier.

Side Note: I’m reading some of the reviews and watching some of the videos, and all the people saying it takkes 45-50 hours to play the game just amaze the fuck out of me. I understand that it’s a different beast to have to play a game to review it, but I can’t imagine being able to get this game in that amount of time AND fighting all the bosses/mini-bosses.

Which, by the way, I defeated the other three Headlesses I had been avoiding. I did two of them in one go and one in two, so there was definitely no reason for me to pass them by. The first one had given me so much trouble, I had no desire to do the others. He was by far the hardest, though, and with the Phoenix’s Lilac Umbrella, I could deflect his bullshit attacks with no problem. With my fat life bar, I could take a few hits and not die. And with ten Healing Gourds, I didn’t have to worry about running out. He also didn’t do the bullshit ‘ripping out my ass’ move that he does in the first fight, so the four clones are really pale imitations. They’re not clones, by the way. They’re each individuals who give you one of five Spiritfalls which are items that take Emblems to use, and they mimic all the sugars. They don’t last as long, however, and they cost something like 5 Emblems per use, so I never used them. FromSoft nerfed how many Emblems they cost along with some other balance tweaks, which is nice. I’m still not going to use them very often, but at least it’s a viable option.

The last boss. I had ten Healing Gourds, and three Pellets as my healing items. I hoarded my Pellets throughout the game, so I had nearly 200 going into the final fight. I had a hunch I was going to need them all, and it makes me cringe to see YouTubers gobble them down like they are candy. You can get them as random drops from enemies, but there’s no way to consistently farm them. Honestly, I rarely found it necessary to pop a Pellet while fighting the regular enemies except in certain areas. I also had the consumable, Fine Snow. It’s given by the Divine Child, and it’s a powerful healing item that restores your vitality at a moderate rate for a given amount of time. So you can take damage and heal through it. It saved my ass more than once during the Demon of Hatred Fight. You can only have one at a time, and you have to go back and request it from the Divine Child after every time you consume it, but it’s an amazing item. I didn’t have any of my other rare consumable healing items because I used them all in the Demon of Hatred Fight. Ten Gourds, three Pellets, and one Fine Snow may seem like a lot of healing items, but I had a hunch it wouldn’t be enough for what was to come. It certainly didn’t feel like enough against the Demon of Hatred.

everything about this is epic!
Why can’t you quit me, Genichiro?

I actually took a few breaths before going into the final arena. I wasn’t anywhere near ready for the last boss fight, but I knew I had to at least give it a try. I walked into the middle of the field, and there was Lord Kuro, but who else was there? My good old buddy, Genichiro. Except, it wasn’t him as the majestic general that he had been in the past. No, he was now Genichiro, Way of Tomoe, and he looked as if he’d seen much better days. He had no armor just as he appeared in the last phase of the last time we fought, and his Onislayer Greatbow was strapped to his back. No, I didn’t know it was an Onislayer Greatbow, but it makes sense. Lord Kuro stood up to Genichiro, but what was a kid going to do? Nothing, if the rest of the game was anything to go by. Most important character in the game, and he couldn’t do a damn thing for himself.

Side Note II: I was wary before this game came out because there was no character creation. I like playing as a chick, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to play as a stoic, sullen dude. Though I thought he was fine from the first time I saw him, and the fact that he’s called Wolf, well, let’s just say he reminded me of Geralt of Rivia, who is one of my video game baes. Anyway, I have to say that I felt I knew Wolf more in the first ten minutes of this game than I had any of the protagonists in all of the Soulsborne games put together. Yes, his background was basic, but it was still more than we had gotten from FromSoft before. Plus, he was fully voiced, and I loved the Japanese voice actors. Yeah, I was into Wolf, and I was quite happy to play him for the entirety of the game.

I wouldn’t let Lord Kuro take on Genichiro, of course, because that would be ridiculous. I told him I would take care of it one last time. Of course I knew it wasn’t going to be one last time, even though Genichiro only had one Deathblow icon by his name. It wasn’t going to be that easy, no way. Not in a game this brutal that had pushed me well past the point of what I thought was possible for me. I drew my sword, and he did the same. I took a deep breath, and then it was on.

After all that drama, he wasn’t so bad. His moveset was a limited version of his arsenal from the last time we fought, and he now had the second Mortal Blade, the one that was discussed by his grandfather, Isshin, and Emma. I had the first Mortal Blade. Mine was red. His was black. One hit of it did half my health bar of damage. At least he didn’t have his bullshit lightning attack this time. I got him first try, but I didn’t feel any exhilaration as the cutscene rolled. He monologued at me as I waited for something to happen, and then he committed seppuku by slitting his throat. He started bleeding. Then, the skin opened up and a hand came out. Then a body. It was his grandfather, Isshin, whose dead body I had seen earlier with Emma mourning over it. I was pretty sure he was her lord, but I had to remember that dead was not dead in this game.

I watched as Isshin arose out of his grandson with very little armor except his helmet, scolded Genichiro for being so weak and useless–so very Asian and relatable–then turned to face me. Isshin, the Sword Saint, with three Deathblow icons by his name. I barely listened as he addressed me by name because I was too disheartened to face him. I knew I had to at least try, though, and I womanned up and took him on.

Or at least I tried. I didn’t do too badly, I guess, but he had a lot of attacks that were too fast for me. I managed to make it through this phase on the first or second time I fought him, but I was using too many Healing Gourds. I had four phases total to get through with ten Healing Gourds (and three Pellets plus the Fine Snow), and I didn’t think I was going to make it through his second phase with only one or two Healing Gourds. I am a topper-upper with my heals, which was not the best way to handle healing when you don’t have as many healing items as you would like–which is never. Still. I made it to the third (total) phase in a relatively few tries, and I thought, maybe I could do this? I knew I was kidding myself, and I was so right.

i am so not ready for him.
You’re supposed to be dead, Isshin.

In his second phase, Isshin pulled out a massive spear in addition to his sword, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he had a handgun (revolver maybe?) he could fire off rapidly if I strayed too far from him. The reach of his spear was insane, and I felt as if I was getting hit no matter where I went. He had a combo that started with him dipping low, and it went on forever. It ended in a very televised thrust that I could Mikiri Counter with some reliability, but I wasn’t able to get a follow-up blow in, though I could in the previous phase.

This phase. I can’t even think about it without repressing a shudder. Spears are my weakness–at least when they’re wielded by a boss. I have had more trouble with bosses with spears than with almost anything else in this game. Yes, the Mikiri Counter mitigates some of that, but it’s a mere blip against bosses. By the way, I can’t tell you how many times I screamed, “I Mikiri Countered your ass!” at Isshin during this fight in general and this phase in specific. Everything about this phase seemed unfair, including the fact that he started jumping around a lot, which meant lock-on became an issue. He would jump at me; I would jump at him, and once every so often, lock-on would become lock-off, and I wouldn’t be able to see where he was. I was screaming, “Where the hell are you?” as I spun the camera around, only to be hit out of the blue and thrown off the cliff.

Oh, did I not mention the cliff that is in this boss fight? Yes, there is a cliff, and, yes, I can fall off/get pushed off said cliff. Can the boss? Of course not. Because that’s fair. If my health was low enough (less than half), falling off the cliff would kill me and I would not be able to resurrect. That accounted for at least three of my deaths, once when I was in the final phase. I’ll get to that in a bit. If I had enough health to withstand the death, I would come back to life on the cliff with a sliver of my health, and I wouldn’t be able to see where the boss was. At that point, I had to just pray I would find him again before he killed me. Because of the terrain and the flowers and the fact that he’s just a tiny human in a vast, vast field, spotting him was nearly impossible. In addition, I have issues with spatial awareness, so that did not help the situation at all.

His second phase nearly broke me. I could make it to that phase fairly reliably, but it was funny. I could do Genichiro pretty easily, but if I used more than one Healing Gourd against him, at the most two, I just killed myself or let him kill me because I wasn’t going to do the fight with that kind of beginning. In addition, I either breezed past him, or he nearly killed me in five seconds. I didn’t know why it was, but I just accepted it. Actually, I think it’s because the fight is so grueling. I had to concentrate with every ounce of my body, and it took me eight to ten minutes (estimation) just to reach Isshin’s second phase. I think my brain forced me to take a mini-break after each real attempt, which led to a shitty attempt the next time or two. In addition, he started with a Mortal Blade attack that if I didn’t time right, took half my life or almost all of it if he did two attacks.

Back to the second phase. I spent two hours on the fight, perhaps making a dozen solid attempts, and I only made it to his second phase. I could get through Genichiro’s phase and Isshin’s first phase with little problem, but I was using too many Healing Gourds in those two phases. I felt like I had to get to Isshin’s second phase with at least seven Gourds, but it rarely worked out that way. Then, he would decimate me during his second phase, and I didn’t feel like I would ever make it to the third.

This is the second time I really wanted to quit the game. I was asking myself why I was doing it because I had nothing to prove. I had basically finished the game, and it was just one boss, right? RIGHT????? Nobody was going to judge me. Nobody was going to say that I was a baby or a coward–except maybe in the forums, but I didn’t give a fuck about that. I couldn’t do it, though. I just couldn’t. I had come so far, and I had done so much, there was no way I was going to punk out at that point. On the other hand, I had put in two hours against the boss and hadn’t made it to his final form.

This is getting long again so I’ll end it here and write another post on the last phase of this boss. Yes, I’ll have plenty to say about that and the ending I chose. I have more feelings and thoughts about the game in general, so who knows how many more posts I’ll write? It looks like I’m not done with this game yet.






*I refuse to talk about specific bosses if Ian has not faced them, and he has not had the time to play Sekiro much since it came out. He did experience the tutorial boss much in the same way I did–a swift and painful death.

Leave a reply