Underneath my yellow skin

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I suck at Sekiro

father 'dying' in the background.
Everything is on fire.

I was watching the RKG producer stream (for producers and posh slugs, long story), and the discussion turned to Sekiro, of course. The boys got their start with Dark Souls, and they’ve done every FromSoft game* except Demon’s Souls and Sekiro. They’ll be doing a Sekiro playthrough later in the year, and I’m profoundly grateful they waited to do it because I wouldn’t have been able to watch it if they did it at release. I won’t watch anything about the game I’m playing, and it would have made me sad to have to delay my viewing. I know they took that into account when deciding upon the timing of the playthrough. Plus, they were still doing Scholar of the First Sin (DS II), and they plan on doing the remake of Resi 2 next. In addition, Daniel has to play through the game first because he’s the lore master and the one guiding Rory through the game. The lore side of it won’t be too hard as much of it is explicitly transferred in text or dialogue. There is some subtext, and if you’re going for the best ending, there’s a ton. In general, though, it’s the most accessible of the FromSoft games, lore-wise.

Anyway, in the chat, someone asked about the difficulty of Sekiro compared to the other games. I said for me, it was by far the most difficult. Someone else said for her, it was on par with Bloodborne (she’s only up to Genichiro, but she has beaten him). Someone else said it was the easiest game because you just needed to learn the moveset. That, of course, was a guy. Dudes tend to state their opinions as if they’re facts, regardless of what the opinion or the subject is. In fact, there was a study that showed dudes (especially white dudes) thought the most expert opinion in any subject was…themselves. I’m exaggerating slightly, but not much. It’s from being the center of attention all their lives and having everything catered to them. Look how many of them lose their shit when something isn’t focused on them. A Star Wars movie dares to have a woman or PoC character? It’s an outrage! It’s giving into the dreaded ‘diversity’ ‘identity politics’ as if having all white men isn’t an identity politics thing.

I will tear myself away from that rant with difficulty because I’ve done it many times before and it’s not worth getting into again. It’s also not really relevant to this post except that I wish I had a tenth of that confidence. I know I undervalue myself in many ways, but I really don’t think I’m overstating it when I say I suck at Sekiro. With over a hundred hours put into it, I suck much less than I did when I first started, but the game still goes against everything I find instinctual. In Dark Souls, I’m a turtler. I hide behind a shield, and I rarely let it down. I’m also a caster, so then I just stay out of range and hurl my fireballs/hexes. I’ve learned not to have my finger glued to the LB, but I still tend to keep my shield up more often than not. It’s one reason I had a hard time with Bloodborne. In addition, arcane is not viable until the very end game, so I really put myself at a disadvantage when I started out. I knew I would because I had heard the warnings about not doing an arcane build on your first try, but I’m stubborn. I am a caster through and through, and I’m going to play the games my way.

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Sekiro: starting anew


Ed. Note: I’m going to Sekiro you until the end of time. Spoilers. I guess? Sure. Why not.

same song, second verse.
So we meet again, Genichiro.

I started a new playthrough of Sekiro because I can’t quit this game no matter how hard I try. I really want to play Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope because I absolutely loved Papers, Please, his first game. It’s a game about being a border agent in a Eastern European country called Arstotzka, which sounds about as thrilling as watching paint dry, I know. Instead, it’s a tense, engaging, and surprisingly touching game that I gobbled up as quickly as I could. I had to decide who got in and who didn’t based on increasingly nitpicky specifications, and I had to decide if I wanted to let people in who shouldn’t be let in and accrue strikes against me. In addition, I had to deal with my home life, which was bleak. It was a fantastic game (and my name was in it! Lucas Pope asked for names for the passports, and mine got in!), and I was looking forward to the sequel. Why haven’t I played it yet? Well, Sekiro, obviously, but also because I’m afraid it won’t live up to the first game even though it’s gotten rave reviews.

Back to Sekiro. I started another playthrough even though I said I wouldn’t. I was so sure I’d be done with the game after my first run, but apparently, I wasn’t. I zipped through the first area (though not literally because I didn’t have my grappling hook yet) and saved my lord without a death. It was easy this time, but I did die my first time, I’m pretty sure. Once I got my sword, I cut them all up including the leader. It’s amusing that he’s a mini-boss because he’s so easy. No one remembers him, but he’s really there to show you the basics. He only gives you Pellets (or maybe even just one) when you kill him, which is nothing. Most of the other mini-bosses give you a Prayer Bead and sometimes even a Gourd Seed. I made it to Genichiro is no-time flat, and I faced him with determination. I knew I was going to die because let’s face it, I’m just not that good without all my shit, but I was curious to see if I could at least get in a few good licks before he took me down. In addition, I had maybe a fifth of my Vitality and no heals. I wasn’t gonna waste Pellets at this point! You know what? I did. I got him down to about a fourth left of his first health bar. Hey, considering that I got maybe one block on him before dying the first time I met him in this part of the game, I consider that  a win.

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Sekiro: the pain has gone


Ed. Note: I’ll be talking about the nitty-gritty details of the game and anything else on my brain. In other words, it’s all spoilers. 

It’s been a little over two weeks since I beat Sekiro, and I’m still obsessed with it. Now that I’m done with the game, I can watch anything about it that I want. I’ve watched a ton of shit about it, including the launch trailer. I refuse to watch FromSoft launch trailers before I play the game because they spoil so much. So many bosses and different areas of the game. Most of it is in the first half, but there was some late-game shit in it as well. Also, they really highlighted the fight with Genichiro atop the Ashina Castle, which is definitely a set piece in the game. I’m including the video below, and it really shows off how epic the game is. Of course it looks better in the trailer than in the actual game, but not by much. I also have to laugh because at the end of the trailer, they show Wolf decapitating the Guardian Ape and leaving it with the Wolf being triumphant. What a massive troll! Well played, FromSoft. Well played.

As I said in my last post, I’m on NG+ just past Genichiro. Yes, I said I was going to put the controller down for good once I finished the game, but I had to see what NG+ was like, didn’t I? Then, I had to see how I’d fare against Madame Butterfly. Then, I was so close to Genichiro, I had to give him a go. That’s the excuse I gave myself, but the truth is, FromSoft games just suck me in no matter how much they piss me off or how shitty they make me feel about myself. It’s weird to look back to the first FromSoft game I played, Dark Souls, and how I had vowed I was done with it once I beat it. I’ve tried to figure out why I came back when I was Done with a capital D. I mean, I know the reason I went back was because the sequel came out, and I wanted to brush up by playing the original again before I attempted the sequel. In addition, since I would be playing it on PC, I decided to wait until Scholar of the First Sin came out rather than buy the original game. Ok, the real reason is because I’m cheap and I don’t like paying full price for a game. I will say that Sekiro is one of the few games I’ve paid full price for–and I pre-ordered it. I pretty much will play any Miyazaki game, even though I think they’re starting to be above my pay grade. I’ll expand more on that in a bit.

One thing about doing NG+ or another playthrough of the same game is that if I missed something on my first playthrough, I’m going to miss it again on subsequent playthroughs. I’m pretty thorough on my first playthrough, and I tend to go down the same beaten path every time after. I remember recently playing SotFS for the seventh or eighth time (or more), and I was in the Brightstone Cove Tseldora watching Pate and Creighton fight. Oh, spoilers for DSII, I guess. I think I chose to help Creighton that time (I alternate between them), and after we were done, I looked around the room and noticed a hallway I had never seen before. I was gobsmacked. I also saw another room in this area I hadn’t seen before while watching a YouTuber play this area. How cool is that? New rooms after I’d played the game so many times. I’m down with that. Or when I’m watching a YouTuber and they tackle a boss in a completely different way than I had. Or an area. I can always learn something new about the games, no matter how many times I play them.

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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.

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Sekiro: five bosses that stayed with me


she's got the claws out.
She looks friendly, doesn’t she?

I’ve been promising a breakdown of the top 5 bosses, e.g. the top hardest bosses in the game for me for quite some time, and I decided to write that post today. Am I going to write them in the order of least hard to hardest or in order of when I met them? I don’t know. I’m making it up as I go along. What I do know is that I’m going to meander first and talk about bosses in general because that’s my way. Why use ten words when a hundred will do?

Let’s talk bosses. There are nearly fifty bosses + mini-bosses in this game. I faced thirteen or fourteen actual bosses and over thirty mini ones, several of whom were replicates. My most hated boss in the game is Headless. He wasn’t the hardest, but he was easily the most annoying and felt the cheapest. Having five of them was irritating as fuck. Yes, I know they’re optional, and, yes, I know they give you the Spiritfalls (one each), and, yes, that means they tie in neatly with the lore, but fuck them. Fuck their Terror bullshit. Fuck their slow you down so you’re walking in molasses bullshit. Fuck their teleporting behind you and pulling out your innards through your rectum bullshit. Just fuck them, fuck them, fuck them.

Fuck also the Shimichen Warriors, all three of them. It’s the Terror bullshit, really. I can’t tell you how much I fucking hate the Terror status and the way it can instantly kill you if your meter reaches max. I know it’s similar to Curse in the other games, but it’s way more prevalent in this game. I will say having the Phoenix’s Lilac Umbrella that deflects apparitions has made the Terror bullshit so much easier. I’ll get to that in a second.

Honestly, I would have preferred 10% less content if that meant cutting out all the duplicate bosses. I’ve said before that I feel like FromSoft sometimes gets tripped up on having to live up to their own hype, and this is one of those times. There will always be players who whine about how there isn’t enough content, but does anyone really want multiples of the same bosses? I’m sure there are probably some, but I am pretty comfortable in saying they’re the minority.

Ok. On with the list.

5. Madame Butterfly. Yes, yes, she’s Lady Butterfly, but she’s always Madame Butterfly in my head. Man, I still have all the feels about her. One of the Let’s Plays I’m watching faced her much later and had five Healing Gourds. FIVE. I had one and then two. I mean….Anyway. I faced her in NG+. I was curious to see if I could beat her the normal way rather than spamming one move (Nightjar Slash). The answer is yes, and no. I fought her the normal way for most of the fight, but then just got tired of it before the first Deathblow icon. I Nightjar Slashed into the second phase, which I find slightly easier except for how much damage her goddamn butterflies do. When I use her shuriken, I don’t do nearly as much damage. I rarely use them because they cost two Spirit Emblems as opposed to one for the other shurikens.

Madame Butterfly is still a handful in NG+, but nowhere near as difficult as she was the first time around. I died to her once in the second phase because I got greedy and tried to heal at an inopportune time. She hit me with the butterflies and took all my health. I had maybe a fourth of her health bar left, and I called her many nasty names as I died. I got her the second time, but it was still a hard fight. I cursed her soundly as I fought her, and I cursed her even more as I killed her. I did use one of the Bundled Jizo Statues to rez a second time in the second phase because they’re handed out much more frequently than in NG and in place of important items, such as where I found Prosthetic Tools or Prayer Beads in the NG, for example.  It’s funny because using the Bundled Jizo Statue gives me a steaming effect, and I have no idea why. (Ed. Note: I learned it’s not the statue–it’s the Umbrella Prosthetic Tool. It smokes when you use it to deflect projectiles, and it doesn’t stop until you switch Prosthetic Tools or die.)

The first time around, I fought her for hours before I even caught a glimpse of her second phase. I am slow, and my reactions aren’t great, so facing a fast enemy like her tested all of my skills, especially so early in the game. I honestly wondered if I could ever get past her, and I was contemplating putting down the game. I looked to the forums in desperation, which was how I found the one magical tip that got me past her. And, yes, I did use the Nightjar Slash liberally in NG+, but I also did other things, too. I would say for where  she is in the game, Lady Butterfly might be two or three in terms of difficulty, but overall, I’m placing her fifth.

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Sekiro: the last boss and beyond

Ed. Note: End game and NG+, so there will be spoilers abound. 

i. know. you. genichiro.
Gotcha, motherfucker!

Before I get to the last phase of the last boss, I wanted to say that I started NG+ after saving my game at the end of NG. Why did I save? In case there is DLC because no fucking way I’m doing DLC in NG+ and I don’t want to start another game. It’s not something I’d normally do, but I remember how frustrating it was not to have an optimal character for the DLC when I played Dark Souls III, and I did not want a repeat of that experience. Do I think there will be DLC? Not sure. I don’t actually think there will be, but you never know.

Anyway. NG+. I went into it with 10 Healing Gourds, all the Pellets in the world (200), and all the Emblems (999 in storage). I wanted to take on Genichiro when we were equally matched, and he wasn’t just going to be able to stomp on my head. I wouldn’t have my prosthetic arm, of course, which meant no prosthetic tools. Was I confident I could take Genichiro with 7 Healing Gourds (used three to get to him, much to my shame) and 3 Pellets? No, but I was going to give it my best shot. Plus, I had a nice fat health bar, better Posture, and all the Spiritfall items in my possession. I decided to use Ako’s Spiritfall because I knew the way to beat Genichiro was to constantly attack him. The biggest difference was that I knew him so I wasn’t intimidated. I had fought him for five hours and died to him probably 60 – 70 times. I had his moves down cold (except for that one swipe to my right that ALWAYS gets me), and I was not going to back down from fighting him. I stood tall, and I kept on the offensive. He still hit hard, though, and I had to use three or four Healing Gourds to get his first Deathblow. I kept my calm, however, and I knew I could get him. Whether I would or not, however, was a different matter.

Readers, I did it. I still had 2 Healing Gourds left at the end of the fight (and 2 Pellets), and it felt good. I knew I’d get nothing for beating him, but it was a matter of pride. I know you, Genichiro, and I am no longer intimated by you. That’s one of the best things about this game–about any FromSoft game, actually, once you beat a boss for the first time, the overwhelming fear dissipates. It doesn’t mean you’ll never die to them again, of course, but it’s half the battle in standing tall.

I whizzed through the first few areas, barely breaking a sweat. I killed the first real mini-boss, the one that I had so much trouble with and whom I avoided for so long in my first playthrough, without even getting hit (yes, I got the first stealth Deathblow on him per yooz). How far I’d come! In fact, I got further in two hours than I had in ten hours my first time through. I killed four mini-bosses (three, really, the first in the tutorial area hardly counts–the leader guy) while only dying twice to the Chained Ogre because he threw me off the goddamn cliff twice, and I died once to the two spear guys as they cornered me against the wall. That’s it, though. Three deaths. I didn’t even get my resurrection ability until the last death because I couldn’t rez when getting thrown off the goddamn cliff by the ogre.

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Sekiro: one last stance (a million times)

Ed. Note: End game. Spoilers. You definitely know the drill by now. 

for that is my calling.
My Lord regrets sending me to my death. Again.

I put down the controller for the day after two hours of fighting the last boss. I felt ok during Genichiro’s phase as long as I didn’t immediately eat it in the first ten seconds. I still think it’s funny that either he beat the crap out of me the minute I stepped into the arena, or I got through him with little care. The first phase of Isshin, the Sword Saint was also not too bad once I figured out my strategy. Running in circles around him, clockwise if possible, bait out one of two attacks, then get in two hits after his attack, then hop back. Rinse. lather, repeat. That took a long time, so sometimes, I would attack him, but that was more unpredictable. I preferred the running around him in circles strat for this phase.

Side Note: I was liberally looking up tips and strats in the last quarter of the game. I did it first to make sure I wasn’t doing the absolutely wrong thing. Then, after an hour or two of banging my head against the boss, I looked up the cheese. I’ll get to it that in a second. I was heartened to know that I basically was doing the right thing in general for each boss, even if I wasn’t doing it skillfully. I will say for the Corrupted Monk (True Monk), I just couldn’t be arsed to learn her moves properly. I wasn’t going to put in hours, and I don’t know why I balked with that boss when I went all out with the last three bosses. I think it’s because she didn’t seem that important to me. I know she is from a lore standpoint, but it’s not as if she were talked about all the time. In my mind, she was just this obstacle to me moving on with the game, and I didn’t feel invested in fighting her. In addition, having three Deathblow icons pissed me off (oh, I was so naive back then). Her second phase was utter bullshit (and, yes, I know I probably could have learned it), and it reminds me that the line between hard but fair and flat-out bullshit is razor-thin in these games.

I also want to say that yes, you can ‘cheese’ many of the end bosses in this game (most of the bosses, really), but you still have to learn the movesets well enough to bait out the moves you want–which isn’t easy. I mentioned before that the cheese for the Demon of Hatred was harder to navigate than actually fighting him, and I couldn’t achieve the jumps needed for the other cheese for that fight. I have my thoughts on cheese and an easy mode, which I’ll save for another post. Or later in this post if I have enough room for it, which I probably won’t.

Side Note to the Side Note: I will say that my constant hatred of FromSoft games in the second half makes me wonder if it’s a flaw of design or user error, or both. These games are really dense, and they’re above my pay grade. Supposedly, a first playthrough is going to take an experienced player 50 – 90 hours. It took me 124 hours with a fifth of those hours being the top five hardest bosses in the game for me (more on that later, of course). And to be fair, I’ve gone back and played every game again, and even with Sekiro, I did some clean-up yesterday including killing the three Headlesses I had left untouched. I also grinded a bit to get some skills. Shadowrush for one, which is really useful, and I should have gotten it so much earlier. I was working on the Prosthetics Tree, though, so I left it until later. Then, the idea of grinding out 6 Skill Points at the end game was daunting, but there’s a known grinding spot that can net roughly 8,000 Skill XP in a minute or so which is about a third of a Skill Point in the end game. That made the grind not so bad, and I got both Shadowrush (6 Skill Points) and Ashina Cross (5 Skill Points). Plus one on the Temple Arts Skill Tree that cost three Skill Points. I may just do this ad infinitum until I get all the skills, but I kinda want to move into NG+.

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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.

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Sekiro: the journey is now over

Ed. Note: This is end game shit, so there will be massive spoilers. I will be focusing specifically on the last boss fight and the ending I chose. So, yes, avoid if you’re in the middle of playing yourself, will be playing any time soon, or just don’t want to be spoiled.

Ed. Note II: Apparently, I had much to say before I even reached the last boss and the ending I chose. So, I will not be talking about that except lightly, but it’s still end game content. 

finally at peace.
Go into the light, Wolf.

I finished Sekiro last night.

I was tempted to end the post there, but I have much more to say about it, obviously. Also, note, I said that I finished the game, not that I beat the game like I normally would. Why? Because I don’t feel as if I beat the game–I feel as if I’ve outlasted it. I mean, I know I beat it. I remember the pain and the agony. So much pain. A lot of agony. There might have been some cursing involved as well. But, it’s been half a day since I finished the game, and I still don’t quite believe I did it. I will talk more about my feelings about it further in the post. For now, I want to talk about the last boss fight because it’s the epitome of my feelings for this game–also because I just beat it after two days and six hours of fighting it. Him. Them. You’ll see what I mean when I get there.

In between Owl (Father) and the final boss, there was one optional boss. I had heard tell of this boss being one of the hardest in the game if not the hardest. It is the second-to-last boss, and as I have written in past posts, I was so fucking tired by the end of the game. I go through this in every game because each one takes so much out of me, but it’s especially true in this game. Or it might be that the pain from the past has faded. I have another theory why the end of this game was much harder than the other games–you can’t summon. If something is going to get done, it’s going to be done by me and me alone. Yes, I understand why there’s a reason for making you fight solo, but I would gladly have welcomed some jolly cooperation for the last three bosses.

By the way. Speaking of bosses. There are over thirty mini-bosses in this game (33). Four Lone Shadows. Five Headlesses. Three Shichimen Warriors. Four sumo wrestler types, two of them Juzou the Drunkards. I have beaten this drum more than once, but it’s too much. I beat all of them except three Headlesses who I still might try but probably won’t, but I was rolling my eyes hard by the last third of the game because of all the replication. I would have cut out all of the clones, and there still would have been plenty of mini-bosses left.

Proper boss-wise, there are thirteen. Kinda, sorta. Depending on which path you take, but that seems to be the number I faced. That’s a really low number of proper bosses, by the way. The last boss on the path I chose is a two-fer, which I will get to in a second. Honestly, I wish there had been more proper bosses and less mini-bosses. Then again, facing the proper bosses was pretty significant each time, although some of them were optional. That’s not unusual for FromSoft games, by the way. There are always plenty of optional bosses in the games.

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Sekiro: epic boss fight is epic

Ed. Note: This whole post is basically one major spoiler so be forewarned. 

halfway there!
His sword is definitely bigger than mine.

Hello. The last we spoke, I was facing Owl (Father) at the end of my second trip to the Hirata Estate. I had attempted to fight him five or six times and was not feeling it at all. I was contemplating skipping him, but I knew it would eat my craw (a combination of eat at me and stick in my craw) and make me think less of myself. I also knew that had he come earlier in the game, I would have tried for at least an hour or two before starting to complain. My patience is razor thin at this point, and it’s hard to make myself do the grind.

I took a deep breath and jumped in. He wrecked my shit casually a dozen times before I even felt I had even a glimmer of a handle on him. It’s strange, though, because I didn’t think he was as hard as, say, Genichiro (the boss who took me literal days to beat), but I think that’s because I beat the first version of him fairly easily. This version, however was Owl in his prime, and he was a nightmare for me. I tried the cheese from the video I had watched, but my problem with the cheese was that there was one move Father did that fucked me up every time. It’s when he threw his shuriken then raised his sword high to his left and held it. The cheese is to move forward and dodge twice, but instead, I pressed down LB (block) while dodging, which didn’t do jack or shit. Father would slice through me and because it was a counter-attack, decimate my health bar to a sliver. Then, he would follow up with another attack that would kill me. Every. Goddamn. Time. If I managed to block the attack, the followup would still devastate me.

After an hour, I knew it was the wrong way to counter that attack, but every goddamn time, even as I was telling my brain not to press LB, I would press it. At that point, it was just better for me to try to avoid that attack altogether. This is one of my issues with the bosses in Sekiro–the best way to fight several of them is to bait out one or two of the attacks and run away from the rest. It’s a viable strategy, but it doesn’t really feel great while doing it. Also, with Owl (Father) at least for me, I wasn’t able to bait out the attack I wanted on a reliable basis.

It seemed I had to fight this boss on his own merits, which, as I wrote before, I did not want to do at this time. However, my pride demanded it of me, so I girded my loin and hopped into the fray. I have written before about the five stages of beating a boss before (near the end of this post), and I’ll expand on them a bit here. The first stage is incredulity and fear, somewhat akin to denial. “I have to fight this thing/guy/gal? No. No. No. No way I’m going to beat this boss!” I have literally walked away from a boss arena and refused to deal with it for some time (if I had other things I could do) because I was just not ready. I did it with Genichiro, and I avoided him for hours. The second stage is resignation. “Welp. I guess I have to do this. Alrighty then.” Third stage is anger and rage. This stage can last quite some time. I distinctly remember with Owl (Father) during this stage, I was cursing him, his mother, his father, and everyone else in his lineage. I cursed out FromSoft and Miyazaki, and everyone involved in the game. I was an angry, angry, ANGRY gamergrrl during a large portion of this fight, let me tell you. Fourth stage is having a glimmer of hope. That moment when you realize that maybe, just maybe, you can beat this thing/guy/gal. It can be one block you’d never gotten off before. Or you get ’em to their second phase (which, by the way, was a lie for Genichiro as he had three phases. Asshole). Or you just see things in a way you hadn’t before. The final stage is the ‘I finally beat this fucking boss’ phase, which is the best phase of all.

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