The enemy samurai fires a bolt from his enormous bow. I tap the parry button and slice the arrow out of the air. I know the shot is just cover for a sliding charging slash with his blade. It's two quick strikes, but I'm expecting it. I tap the block button twice to deflect both with a loud ringing sound and a flash of sparks. A glowing red symbol tells me that an unblockable attack is coming, an attack that has killed me three or four times before.
While I certainly enjoy punishing games that test me and my skills (and have proudly bested everything FromSoftware has thrown at me in this genre) there\\u2019s a sense of empowerment that comes from Sekiro\\u2019s generally more forgiving nature. For example, due to the seemingly smaller, more linear paths relative to the sprawling hellscapes of other FromSoftware games, I never felt like I had to go too far to find the next Idol and bank my progress. That regular cadence relieves a lot of the oppressive anxiety in wondering if all your work will be taken from you before you can make it to the next checkpoint, and once or twice I simply sprinted through an area, assuming an Idol was just on the other side. It usually was. That relieving sense of safety in Sekiro allowed me to appreciate the mechanical complexities of it in a way I couldn\\u2019t if I was terrified of taking any chances. It\\u2019s not something I\\u2019d wish for every game of this genre to embrace, but it\\u2019s refreshing and new.
And while Sekiro starts out like a work of historical fiction in a bloody but atmospheric period of Japanese history, in typical FromSoftware fashion it quickly takes a hard turn into the mystical and supernatural. Granted, it has to, since resurrection is a core feature and all existing scientific data points suggests that 15th-century Japanese people couldn\\u2019t actually do that, but it\\u2019s done so in a way that\\u2019s both relatively grounded in reality and rooted in actual mythology, which I genuinely appreciate. These incredible environments ripped straight from myth and legend regularly overshadow the actual story in a welcome, compensatory way. Moments of traipsing through divine gardens, reliving memories from the past, and tangling with fantastical beasts all deliver a unified vision of a world that straddles this plane and the next, and I loved it. The vibrant, colorful sights and moody, atmospheric sounds create a varied world, set to a period-appropriate soundtrack that\\u2019s equal parts calming and haunting. 781b155fdc