Ed. Note: There will be spoilers. Not many, but some end game ones, including bosses. Be forewarned.
I have already declared that I think Sekiro is probably the best of the FromSoft games, even if I never play it again. It’s brilliant and amazing, and a bunch of other superlatives. With that all said, it’s not a perfect game by far, and there are several things that annoy me about it. Some are evergreen FromSoft issues and some are specific to this game. Some are minor, and more than one are major. I’ve talked about some of them before, but I want to get them in one place. This place.
Here they are in no particular order.
1. Hitting through walls. This is an old-time favorite in the FromSoft games. Enemies and bosses that can hit you through walls. You can’t always do the same to them, and it’s not clear when you can and when you can’t. It’s irritating, but it’s something that just makes me think, “Ah, FromSoft. Never change.” Unless it’s against a boss and I’m about to win, and then I get killed, in which case, it’s “OH MY FUCKING GOD FROMSOFT WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO ME?” I tend to swear when I fight bosses, but weirdly, many times in Sekiro, I’m silent. That’s usually my M.O. for right before killing a boss, but this time, it’s more often than not.
2. Too many mini-bosses and too many replicas. Look. I know the FromSoft games are all about the bosses. I get it. It’s what put their name on the map so to speak, and it’s something they probably take justifiable pride in. The thing is, they have been increasing the number of bosses in each game*, and in this game, it’s a bit much. Well, I have to amend that. At first I wasn’t sure what was a boss and what was a mini-boss. I soon learned the big bosses are the ones who give you battle memories (one per victory). The mini-bosses give you prayer beads and/or other rewards. At least that’s how I figured it out.
Let’s chat about the mini-bosses I have met so far and how many copies there are of each, shall we? We shall because it’s my party and I can write whatever I want to. The first mini-boss I encountered was General Naomori Kawarada, and I had to let him be for quite some time (More on that later). Later on, I ran into another general who looked a lot like him. General–wait, let me look it up–ok. Apparently, not a general. Name of Seven Ashina Spears Shikibu Toshikatsu Yamauchi. I link them together in my mind, regardless of whether I should or not. Then there’s the Chained Ogre who shows up again much later. I’m trying to do it in order, but some of it is a blur. Actually, a lot of it is a blur. So I’m going to try to recount as best as possible without too much research.
Next up, Shichimen Warrior who also shows up again (and I read show up yet another time. Added note: Saw him. Did not take him the fuck on yet). Fuck that fucker. Seriously. Fuck the whole Terror bullshit. It is by far the worst status affliction of them all. I will even take Toxic over it. Well, no, maybe not. Actually, yes, but only by a hair. We’ll talk more about that later as well.
Then the Headless. That’s the one who shows up four times. Also with the terror bullshit. So much bullshit. All the bullshit. I haven’t even seen the other two, but I don’t care at this point. They don’t give you prayer beads so fuck them. The OCD in me is not happy about it, and I’m pretty sure I will at least try to take them on, but they are by far the worst. Their moveset is so fucking weird, and the first one took forever for me to kill. The second, I actually got on my first or second try. Still hate them, though. The other two are in water, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I don’t want to deal with them, so I probably won’t. Maybe.
Then we have four Lone Ninja dudes. Four! At least. Maybe five. They all blend together. All with varying abilities and tricks, and none of them very interesting. I exploited their weakness with the last two. Which is they have a fairly short tether, so if you go to just outside it, they will start walking backwards. You can hit them as much as you want, but they will continue to walk backwards after deflecting your attacks. I’m not sure how far back that would work, but it did the job.
Do I feel bad about it? No. The reason why leads us to number three on the list.
3. The game is too damn long. I’m tired, y’all. Not of the game, exactly, but of the grind. Of the ups and downs. Of how grueling the game can be. I’m just…tired. I’ve reached that point in each prior game, and I’ve gutted through it. I probably will in this game as well (still have the vague notion that I might not make it all the way given that you have to beat all the bosses solo). I know FromSoft feels compelled to give big and beautiful games for their fans, so the games are crammed full. The last game (DS III), I heard complaints that it was too short, that it could be done in forty hours. First of all, I highly doubt that. I’ve played the hell out of DS III, and there is just no way you can do absolutely everything in it in under forty hours. Someone said they finished this game in the same amount of time, and that is also ridiculous.
Look. I know I faffle around, and I know that I’m bad at these games, but I have put in over twice that time, and I don’t think I could do it in half the time even if I tried my very hardest. I think I have another five hours in me (unless I get really hung up on a boss), but no fucking way I could have done it in under fifty hours. I haven’t even done everything there is to do, but I’ve done most of it. There are a few questlines I wasn’t able to finish, so there’s that as well. My point is that the games are chock-filled with things to do, and there’s no need to replicate. As I said earlier, there probably is a lore reason for some of it, but I’m worn out. I’m just so tired. I want it to be over. In a good kind of way.
4. Too many duplicate bosses. This links back to #2. Again, I’m not completely sure what’s a boss and what’s a mini-boss, but either way, there are too many doubles. Let’s talk about the Guardian Ape/Headless Ape, whom I wrote about in earlier posts. Ok, fine, that he had only one Deathblow icon, and ok, fine, he came back to life in a different form after I beheaded him. I’ve come to expect that, even though I still–we’ll get to that in a moment as well. But then to have it go on to another fight with two more phases, the second in which his wife joins in? At least I assume it’s his wife. Yeah, that just made me roll my eyes. Again, it wasn’t that the fight was that difficult–it wasn’t. Because of my first round with the Guardian Ape, I learned his headless moves until I had them down. Then, I applied them to the second fight, while dealing with the Brown Ape (the wife). The one saving grace to the second fight is that they rarely attack you at the same time. But was it really needed? I would argue no.
There’s also the Corrupted Monk, the apparition of whom I fought in Mibu Village. She wasn’t too bad, but by that point, I was tired. So when I met her again on a bridge right before the Fountainhead Palace, she had three Deathblow icons. Three fucking Deathblow icons! Which leads me to the next number.
5. There really is no need for multiple Deathblows if one or more of them are cheatable. I said this before, but it’s really started to irritate me near the end of this game. Look. I know that multiple phases of bosses has always been a thing with FromSoft games. I’m, if not fine with it, resigned to it. However. Is there really a need for a Deathblow icon if it can easily be defeated? Let’s talk about the Corrupted Monk/True Monk I mentioned in the last number. She has three Deathblow icons. I tried her to battle her the normal way, and I got the first Deathblow fairly easily. Then, in the second phase, she sends out two shadow forms that slashed at me from all around. After a few seconds of that, they disappeared, and she showed up again.
Now. I have to confess, I just can’t muster the energy to fight a million times in hopes of incrementally learning more each time. This is the problem with multiple phases. In order to get to the second phase, I would have to fight the first phase time and time again. Or. I could do the cheese. Is it cheese if the developers know it’s in the game? It’s been that way in every game. In the original Souls game, there’s a cheesy strat of getting the tail off the Hellkite Dragon (more like a wyvern, but whatevs) by standing in a nearby area and shooting the tail repeatedly. That gets you the Drake Sword which is very OP in the early game. It’s a well known glitch, and it’s never been patched. There are countless others like it.
So, yes, I’ve been looking up tips and tricks. At first, it was because I wanted to make sure I was on the right track. Then, it was because I just couldn’t be fucked. I mean, I’m willing to learn the patterns of the first phase, but two or more? No. I just am not. It’s too much to ask from me, and I want to actually finish the game. I know that I’m at the very outer limit of my patience, and anything that will keep me moving on is a good thing.
With the justifications out of the way, I looked at the cheese for this boss. I was not going to put myself through three phases with 9 Healing Gourds and 3 Pellets. Yes, I had a few other healing items, but I didn’t want to burn through them all with no guarantee it would work and with harder bosses to come. I was willing to do one phase, maybe two. But three? No. The cheese–first let me set up the scene. The fight is on a bridge with trees lining it on both sides. You can grapple these trees. This is important to the cheese. Rushing in, I grapple the first tree on the right, then the second, then the far tree on the left. I have to do it quickly before the Corrupted Monk/True Monk appears. Then, I’m right behind her and I do the first Deathblow.
The next part is the hard part. I have to grapple up to the second tree on the right, swing to the tree on the left, then swing back to the right and position myself well enough for–damn. I can’t tell you how many times I fucked this up. The first Deathblow, I got after ten or so tries. Maybe more. Probably a lot more. Anyhoo. I let the Corrupted Monk/True Monk kill me any time I didn’t get the Deathblow on her then tried it again. The positioning for the second Deathblow gave me so many fits and starts. No matter how many times I watched the videos, I couldn’t get it right. It was frustrating the hell out of me, and I decided to fight her once in the second phase after doing the first Deathblow. I did ok until about a third of the way through, and she summoned the stupid shadow apparitions who killed me. Fuck that noise. One of the videos I watched said it took him about forty-five minutes to get the two cheese-method down, and I resolved to see it through.
I watched the videos a few more times, and I realized what I was doing wrong. I made the proper adjustments, and I jumped. I got the second Deathblow, and it was on to the third phase. I faced her, and wait, what the hell happened to her head? Oh, it was gone, and in its place was a centipede. The thing that was corrupting everything in the place. I took a deep breath, and I fought it. And, I beat it first try. Even though it spits out fucking Terror. Why’s it always gotta be Terror? That felt pretty good, I have to tell you, and I feel no shame about cheesing the first two phases of the boss.
This is getting long as usual. I still have more that bothers me about the game, but this is it for now.
*DS II may have more than DS III, but I’m mostly talking about the Miyazaki games.