New Details Revealed on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

The game's director shares some insight into the mysterious new game.

By L.B. Lubomski

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was a big deal when announced at the E3 convention earlier this year. Coming from the studio that brought us Dark Souls and Bloodborne, fans are expecting another unique and haunting gaming experience. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of the "Soulsborne" series, took the time to answer some questions in a recently-released interview on Playstation.Blog.

In the interview, he dove into the combat and lore of Sekiro, as well as details on that awesome prosthetic arm. What we've learned is not to necessarily expect more of the same and that Sekiro is quite different from FromSoftware's previous games.

The first thing discussed in the interview was the setting of Sengoku Period in Japan. This was a time filled with war and social strife that actually caused a temporary collapse of the feudal system. In other words, this is the perfect setting for a game about ninjas!

If we’re going to do something with ninjas, there are two key areas that are relevant: the Edo period and the Sengoku period...We ended landing on the Sengoku period [because it] was dirtier — it was grittier and bloodier. It had more of a feel of the type of world we’d want to create…The other reason we landed on this period is because [it still seems] “medieval,” vs the Edo period, which feels more modern. In my mind, it felt more believable to see something mystical or having to do with the presence of gods in the Sengoku period.

Miyazaki then touched upon the game's combat and mysterious resurrection mechanics as seen in the game's debut trailer at E3 back in June.

My idea of a ninja fighting rather than, say, a knight fighting, is that ninjas can’t take a lot of damage. They’re taking a huge risk, they’re very vulnerable while they’re fighting. It’s this idea of fighting on the edge, it’s a risky situation where if you screw up by a hair’s breadth, it’s over.

With that image for the combat, that it’s risky, a slight mistake and you’re dead, if you had to go back every time you die and walk back to where you were, the tempo of the game would not feel very good. The idea of resurrection is that it helps the flow of the game. Yes, you have this battle, but you don’t necessarily need to go back every time you die, this helps to balance that out and allows for that riskier “edge of the knife” type gameplay.

It’s also related to the game’s story. It’s related to the mystery surrounding the main character as well as the young lord. Resurrection will have something to do with them.

When asked for further details on how the resurrection mechanic will work in-game, Miyazaki declined and stated that the system has not been finalized yet. However, he then warned that just because players can come back from death at a whim's notice, it doesn't mean the game will be any easier and it may, in fact, be more difficult as a result.

There’s one thing I’d like to make sure isn’t misunderstood: the resurrection system was not introduced to make the game easier. If anything, it actually can make the game harder because it allows us to push the edge of risky combat where the player can die at any moment.

Miyazaki then discussed the main character's prosthetic arm and how this has allowed the development team a lot of freedom to do a ninja game how they thought it should be done, giving players freedom of exploration and a ton of options on how to handle different scenarios. "His arm can let you do so many things," he said. "You can see that there are wires on it, there are tools on it, it kind of gives you the idea that you have this multi-use feature."

There were two things we really liked about using a ninja, in terms of game design. We’ve always designed stages with verticality in mind, we consider it one of our strengths. What really appealed to us was being able to explore that dynamically — not relying on ladders and other ways to move around these stages, but being able to just boom, I’m there.

The other thing is that when you’re designing gameplay around a ninja, it’s not like a samurai. With a samurai, you’d go right in with a sword, with a ninja you can sneak around, you can do things that are considered unfair — you can blind guys, you can do stuff that’s not honorable. It was really exciting from a gameplay perspective because it opened up so many options.

So, the two key aspects of this shinobi prosthetic are that you can explore with verticality, and you have a variety of moves that you can use in combat.

Regarding combat and the pace of the game compared with FromSoftware's previous titles, gamers can expect a very different experience since they can now approach situations in all-new ways. Stealth and the vertical nature of Sekiro's world seem like they will really make a difference this time around.

There are two key things about battle in Sekiro. In combat, one of the key aspects that’s important in this game is the violence of the clashing of swords. The other thing is the verticality and dynamic movement that you’re allowed.

That dynamism is in the combat, as well. There are lots of different ways to approach a battle, such as stealth, or using your arm tools. Attacking from above, for example. Some of your ninja tools can take advantage of an enemy’s weakness, as well. Or, if you want, you can just go straight in with your sword.

There are lots of different things you can do that will help you in battle. The game is designed in such a way that even if you’re not insanely good at the game, you can figure out how to get through it if you think about it and play it smart.

The next topic the interview dives into is the lore and story for Sekiro. FromSoftware is known for taking a unique approach to lore, especially in Dark Souls, where little information is handed to players outright and details have to be pieced together largely through flavor-text on in-game items.

Other than the main character being an actual named part of Sekiro's world, lore will be presented in this same unique way as previous games. When asked why FromSoftware chooses to take this approach, Miyazaki simply stated that "[he's] a fan of stories that require you to use a little bit of your imagination in order to really understand the whole thing."

In Sekiro, the story is actually centered around the main character. He’s a character in the story, who exists in this world. Previously we had nameless characters who weren’t as involved. Thanks to making the main character part of the story, the beginning of the game is probably easier to understand than our previous games.

Aside from that, not too much is different. This isn’t a game where you go through one area, kill a boss, watch a cutscene, then the game tells you where to go next. The story trickles in as you’re playing the game, you’ll find things that will give you more information on the world — the lore, if you will — along with actual story information as well. In that way, it’s similar to our previous games.

Miyazaki ended the interview by once again reiterating that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is not a "Soulsborne" game. It is something entirely different and is not an action RPG this time around, but instead an action-adventure title. That being said, fans can still expect some of the same unique design choices you can only get in a FromSoftware game.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a different kind of game. Our previous titles have been action RPGs, this time it’s an action adventure.

There are lots of cool new things that I’m looking forward to fans enjoying. Particularly the new story format, or at least the fact that the main character is a big deal in the story. The new ways to explore the world, and the new way that you’re going to become more and more powerful.

There are lots of aspects from our previous titles that I feel we’ve been able to iterate upon. The dynamic exploration, the violent swordfighting, and the huge number of strategic options. I feel that these are all major steps forward for these mechanics, and I’m really looking forward to fans playing

What are your thoughts on all of this new information on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice? Personally, we can't wait to give it a try when the game is ready. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on any more information as it becomes available.

About the Author

L.B. Lubomski

Lawrence "L.B." Lubomski is an avid horror movie fan, gamer, musician, historian, and aspiring author. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, L.B. was exposed to the works of local filmmaker and godfather of zombie cinema George A. Romero early on. He has since developed a particular fondness for Italian zombie/cannibal and slasher films. This passion for horror extends into other media, from survival horror video games such as Resident Evil to horror-inspired musical artists. In his spare time, L.B. pursues many interests including building his collection of vinyl records, action figures, and vintage video games as well as drumming in various local bands.

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