Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a difficult, treacherous game. Even if you think you're an expert at From Software's action titles, this one is designed to challenge, confound, and fool you. In other words, it's the kind of game that requires players to trade pro tips, to outsmart all the obstacles built into the game. We're here to help. Below are some tips that haven't surfaced very much elsewhere online. Follow these invaluable guidelines and you'll be a master shinobi in no time. Or, well, you'll at least probably die less.
1. Go slow.
Be thorough and deliberate in the way you explore the dense, vertically layered environments of Sekiro. It can be tempting to rush in order to avoid harder fights and to feel like you're making progress, but this game likes to hide a lot of important content in out-of-the-way places. So take your time; follow every dead end and explore every building interior. You'll find a lot of items, from helpful consumables to essentials like new Shinobi tools for your prosthetic arm and Prayer Beads to upgrade your character. There are also side quests hidden around, various NPCs who might have things for you to do, and interesting secrets about the world to share. Pay attention.
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2. Know your upgrades.
Sekiro is rather limited in how you upgrade your character, compared to the dizzying list of options found in From Software's Souls games. Prayer Beads can be exchanged in sets of four for increases in health and posture, while Memories can be exchanged for increases in attack power, which also affects how much posture damage you do to enemies. Memories only come from major boss fights, whereas Prayer Beads can be found by defeating mini bosses, with a limited amount of them available to purchase in some shops and hidden around the game world. If you're struggling with a big fight, try to gather more Prayer Beads by taking on any mini bosses you might have skipped. Those upgrades are essential. There are also skill points you earn through combat, which you can invest into various abilities, and money can be used along with raw materials to enhance your prosthetic arm.
3. Don't neglect your prosthetic arm.
After the tutorial section, your fighter comes equipped with a prosthetic arm that can use a variety of tools. In the heat of combat, it can be easy to forget about your arm, but it provides a huge amount of utility. The Firecracker prosthetic, in particular, can make almost any enemy in the game flinch for at least a moment, and shuriken can kill a lot of smaller animal enemies in one hit. Experiment with them, upgrade them when you can, and see what works against what boss. A lot of them have surprising weaknesses. Be creative.
4. Grind if you have to.
Prayer Beads and Memories can't be easily ground out, as they require beating bosses to get, but skill points and money sure can. If you get stuck and you think something in your ability tree might help you, don't hesitate to go back to earlier areas and do a few rounds of the local baddies to get some experience. Spending your time grinding can feel tedious, but it helps, and if you're stuck any advantage can be worth pursuing.
5. Try to master the Mikiri Counter, because I sure can't.
One of the earliest abilities you can acquire in the game is the absolutely essential Mikiri Counter, which lets you counter thrust attacks by dodging directly into them. It makes fighting a lot of mini bosses a lot easier. I'm terrible at it, as it involves mortal courage in the face of really tough enemies. But maybe you'll be better! Don't forget to practice with your ally at the Dilapidated Temple, though in a lot of real fights the timing is trickier.
6. Don't forget what you are; play dirty.
Multiple times in the game, characters will scoff and mock you upon realizing you're a shinobi, a ninja, a master of stealth and dirty tactics. Well, make it work for you—and use stealth and dirty tactics. Sneak up on enemies, use the high ground, and generally don't be ashamed to use any dirty trick you come up with to pick off enemies and get the jump on boss fights. This is a hard game. Don't worry about playing fair.
7. If you get stuck, go somewhere else.
There are a lot of tough fights in this game, especially early on. But fortunately there are also a fair amount of branching paths. If you get stuck in one area, go to another one, push as far as you can. Sometimes you'll find abilities or upgrades that will help in the other area, and sometimes you'll just get some perspective and space on a tough fight. Either way, distance makes the heart grow … uh, murderier? That saying doesn't really work for this game, but still.
8. Don't fear the flurry.
A lot of enemies have a multiple-strike flurry attack that can look incredibly terrifying. Your first instinct, as a player, is inevitably going to be to avoid this attack at all costs. But don't do that. Instead, learn to parry this move, and the fight will get a lot easier. Fast multi-strike combos like this are a godsend for getting an enemy's posture damage up, especially if you're having a tough time. For fast attacks, just tapping the block button repeatedly will often get you at least a couple of deflects, and that's better than nothing. Some enemies really rely on these moves, and by confronting them head-on they become trivial.
9. Invest small amounts of money into Spirit Emblems.
Remember that you can always buy Spirit Emblems, the consumable items that power your prosthetic arm's abilities, from any save point (Idol) in the game. Early on, they're incredibly cheap, like 10 sen a piece. If I end up at a save point with less than 100 sen at any point, whether just after dying or what, I always spend it all on Spirit Emblems. That way, I am getting a few extra every run, which adds up. Running out of Spirit Emblems when you need them is frustrating, so be sure to stock up.
10. Interrupt perilous attacks.
Some attacks can't be parried or defended against in a traditional way, forcing you to dodge or take some other drastic actions. Sekiro calls these perilous attacks, and they're marked by a sound effect and the appearance of a red kanji symbol over the enemy before they strike. What the game doesn't tell you, though, is that a lot of these moves can be interrupted with a careful sword strike. If you see an opponent attempt a perilous move, and you're feeling daring, just slash at them right before they go for it. There's a legitimate chance that you might not only stop the move, but buy a moment to get in a few extra hits while you're at it. Any advantage helps, after all.
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