Sekiro is a ton of fun!

It’s been a while but I started playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and have really been enjoying it. I think there are a lot of reasons as to why I’ve enjoyed it so much so far… Hence, I’d like to talk about that today. So, I haven’t played a lot of Sekiro yet and I doubt that I’m anywhere near the end of it but I already got through my fair share of boss encounters! I’m currently 15 hours into the game and defeated the Horse Guy and Lady Butterfly already… I passed the Snake and did fight a fair few minor bosses… meanwhile I’m currently stuck at Mr Bowguy… and when I say “I’m stuck” I mean that I stopped playing since I’m frustrating and since I’m not good enough at this game.

Sekiro is a challenging souls-like Action-Adventure by From Software. In Sekiro, you follow a Shinobi known as the “Wolf” on his mission to take revenge on a clan of Samurai that attacked him and kidnapped his lord. After escaping death once, you’re given a second chance with a shinobi-tool arm-prosthetic that allows you to do new things… and all in all, it’s an interesting story that offers you a lot of challenge and lots of areas to explore. I personally really enjoyed it so far for a plethora of reasons:

Gyoubu Oniwa, a man on a horse wielding a naginata, is storming towards "the wolf" aka Sekiro's protagonist.
GYOUBU ONIWA! MY FAVOURITE BOSS SO FAR!

For starters, it’s very hard and frustrating but in a good way. Sekiro doesn’t feature stats or a stamina bar like in Dark Souls. Gear isn’t a thing and items don’t matter as much. It’s all about skill and mastery. Your enemy is your goal and to beat him is your mission. There are a bunch of attacks you can utilize from heavy and swift blows to special attacks you learn via the skill tree but overall, you mostly need to master the parry and the dodge skill in order to damage the enemy’s posture and bring them down in one fell swoop. As the wolf, you’re given a second chance after your first death, so don’t give up easily and fight on.

I personally found this very enjoyable. I never felt like an enemy was unfair. I never felt like the game was being unnecessarily hard on me. Instead, I’d rather have to learn patterns and tread carefully. Posture is important, something that is quite accurate in Iaido, the way of the sword. Alas, I enjoyed Sekiro’s combat and the way that From Software shaped the combat around “Samurai-culture”. From the design of all the characters and enemies to the stances and poses they take and even the sound design in the menu, the game feels rather polished and cohesive. There are instances of mythical creatures and ominous elements in the story that didn’t seem realistic, but Sekiro never claimed to follow a true story or anything like that. My point is that it combines real elements and values of Iaido and Iodo with mystical and magical elements and creatures and it… feels good. It works well. I, as a geek on that topic, can’t complain. I doubt anyone else really cares. The bamboo sounds in the menu, the stances that characters take in combat, and the different schools of sword fighting… Even if it’s only inspired by things that I loosely remember at this point and even if it’s not supposed to be “realistic”, it feels kind of authentic in a way, which is nice.

Anyways, I love Sekiro. And I’m currently stuck in this fight with General Bow-Guy (not his actual name). I get very close to the end but ultimately fail because I’m not good enough at the game yet. It’s not a matter of the fight being too hard… it’s a matter of me not being good enough and no matter how much I try, it never feels too bad really to fail because you have a chance! You immediately know what you’ve done wrong. That’s something that I love in this game.

Sekiro's protagonist aka the wolf is standing alone in a hall that is caving in and burning right now.

In Dark Souls 3, on the other hand, there are points where you can decide to grind to make the game easier for yourself… You need souls to advance your level and your stats. With stats, you’ll be able to dodge more as you have more stamina or to deal more damage due to your dexterity or strength going up. It’s nice and works well for an RPG but Sekiro is not that. Sekiro doesn’t need that. Instead of grinding for a certain weapon or for the next level up, you’re only relying on one thing and one thing alone: Your Skill.

Sekiro’s philosophy could be summarised using the words “If you suck, just get better”. It’s not about grinding the same area for ages but rather it’s about making the best out of the weapons that the game gives to you and mastering them. It’s about skill and mastery over grind and frustration. It’s about reflecting on your mistakes and instead of cursing the game… okay, you can add a bit of salt into the mix, too, which is understandable. Everyone gets frustrated at times, but what counts is that you have fun and for me, the fun comes with getting better and getting that super clutch kill all of a sudden after you lost your lives already in Phase 1 against Lady Butterfly and still managed to kill her not once but twice thanks to an incredible amount of luck and thanks to some form of transcendence that you’ll most likely never achieve again. Oh gosh, I hated that fight in so many ways!

Sekiro can be frustrating but it doesn’t have to be. If you die a lot, just don’t get hit. If you suck at the game, get better at it. If you don’t want to get killed, just kill the enemy before they have a chance to kill you. And I personally just love that about it. You can’t really avoid fighting. You’ll fight those bosses and you’ll murder them unless they’re optional. It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s rewarding.

General Bow-Guy asking Sekiro's protagonist how "grandfather" is.
There he is… General Bowguy!

Sekiro’s most frustrating moments made the victories, however small they were were, a lot sweeter, which is a nice thing that I enjoyed about it. I’m looking forward to getting gud again. I’m looking forward to beating General Bow-Guy in Sekiro.

Cheers.

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Blaugust Prompt #13 – 5 Facts

Jen from Bookofjen has a prompt for us: 

Tell us five things about yourself!

Thanks for the prompt, Jen! Check her blog out! The next one in line is Heather from Geeking By! Check her blog out as well! 🙂

This post is part of the Blaugust 2020 event. Wanna know more about it? Then check out my post on it or Bel’s post where he also linked everyone who’s participating! Be sure to check out the others as well!

Alas, the five-fact-list is starting now… This one should be not too depressing!

Fact 1: I’m getting better at cooking.

This should be no surprise since I’ve lived alone for nearly two years now (The 3rd of September marks the beginning of the third year!) but I actually am getting better at that cooking business.

Over time, I’m really good at knowing what spices and what things are missing in dishes and I’m very good at spicing up veggies, for instance. I don’t have too many mishaps anymore with too much salt or too much pepper and am also getting better at cooking meat through to certain points.

That’s something that I’ve been excited about lately. After all, food is important but it should also taste good and since I love cooking for other people, including friends and my girlfriend, I want them to enjoy their food as well. 

The things I work on right now is getting faster and more confident with the knives and actually being able to create dishes that look good. 

The latter is somewhat of a bad habit of mine where I don’t care about the look of the food if it’s food for “only” me. I’ll eat it regardless of how it looks… but I wouldn’t want to take a dump on other people’s plates and serve it to them, so I’m trying to get better at actually making it look good. For that, I tend to take a look at different veggies and their colours and stuff to essentially balance out the colour palette. Before cooking them, I tend to boil them for a bit before putting them into cold water… “to blanch” veggies is very good to stop them from cooking too much and losing their colour, which is important in the case of sweet potatoes who turn brown instead of orange… or beans that lose a lot of their green. You can also peel off tomato skins using that method.

Hence, I go through a bit more of an effort to make the actual dish look good. Forming the rice is also really nice… experimenting with the look and presentation of the sauce on the plate… that kinda stuff. 

The former thing about knives is a bit of a fear of mine. Before I started my blog, I accidentally stabbed myself with a knife into the left hand. So, now, I tend to be super scared of using knives since I don’t want to cause another red wedding in my flat, worrying everyone and passing out on the floor and stuff. 

To get better at knife-work, I try to challenge myself while cutting up veggies and to try and filet meat easier while also trying out different techniques… overall, it’s a process and I’m excited about getting better at it.

Fact 2: I hate tier lists.

While maybe surprising, I hate tier lists like this one. I don’t enjoy writing about something without connecting different dots in some way together. Lists don’t have anything to do with knife-work or food. Shopping lists are handy but as a post? I’d hate that! So, let’s try and get this over with…

Maybe, it’s a bit of an ego-issue but I tend to devalue posts like “top 20 games budgets” that essentially represent a five-minute Google search… Obviously, these posts also take work… obviously, they are also a time investment for the author. But I just don’t like them. My list right now already took more time to write than their post over there – and yet, it’s content produced for the masses. Stuff, that people enjoy and like. 

I hate it. I devalue it and I doubt that’s a bad thing either. It’s just opinion that I don’t rate posts about facts or lists or whatever highly.

I’ll hate this post, even if it probably does a lot better than my other posts. 

Fact 3: I enjoy anime.

This one is probably no surprise after the manga review that I did on Girl By The Sea or after talking about Necrobarista and Milky Way Prince. 

Generally, I wouldn’t consider myself a “fan” as the fandom consists of weebs and self-proclaimed “otakus” that constantly use at least one Japanese word per sentence… and I also don’t like a lot of the gatekeeping and hate that is going on in the fandom… and the sexism, bigotry and double standards… and the harassment of cosplayers… and the number of people thirsting over girls while obviously being toxic assholes… yeah, I don’t want to be part of that community.

But at the same, I guess I’m a “fan” since I enjoy a fair amount of anime and watched a fair amount myself so far and since I still actively watch shows whose episodes come out every week… it’s just that I don’t enjoy all of the fandom-aspects of it. I talked about it for a bit in the fandom-post a while back… But there are a lot of things that I’ve left uncommented…

Fact 4: My favourite numbers are 17 and 19.

Honestly, I don’t know why people would choose any other numbers… 19 is my absolute favourite number, so I had the habit of using it a lot when I created exercises for students of mine… but sometimes, when they were about to notice, I’d use (the inferior… but also really pretty) 17 to confuse them. They are both prime numbers as well, which is quite cool! 

A past professor of mine really liked 15 and 28. What a weirdo. 

And a friend of mine really liked 5/7, though I can understand that he liked that number a lot… 

…I really hope that I meet normal friends when I study English studies. I really hope that we can talk about normal stuff… my math friends were weird and they made me even weirder. 

Fact 5: I used to do Kendo, Iaido, Iodo and Muay Thai.

Okay, the latter was something that I initially wanted to do… but I ended up not being able to since I moved away shortly afterwards… but I did train Kendo (The Way of the Sword), Iaido (The Way of the Drawing of the Sword), and Iodo (The Way of the Stick) for a bit more than a year. 

It was a lot of fun and helped me with a lot of issues from my posture to my self-discipline to anger-management, I guess. I really enjoyed it when I passed one of the exams, the 6th Kyu (it’s the first thing you do and it goes down to the 1st Kyu and then you get the 1st Dan, all the way up to the 6th – at least in Germany).

Quite often, we’d travel somewhere as well to learn more about other schools and techniques and we’d also have joint exercises with other schools and dojos. Once, we had a workshop of sorts with other dojos of other martial arts and we were able to experience some more Iaido taught to us by a 4th Dan who passed the exam for the 5th in Japan (!) but didn’t accept it since he felt that he didn’t deserve it yet. I even got to learn a bit of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and we did some exercises on Kung Fu, or specifically the Pak Sao techniques. 

Sadly, it didn’t work out with that since I had to work, I had my girlfriend at the time, school stuff, the training, and lots more going on. In the end, I had to make the right call and prioritize something… 

When I had less work, I wanted to train something again, and Muay Thai seemed like a cool thing that I could enjoy, mainly since my ex-girlfriend at the time talked a lot about it. My long legs were quite optimal for it since I had the necessary speed and height to kick people’s head without them reaching me but sadly, I couldn’t practice it too much… Once the “Rona” stops, I may actually pick it up again and start over. I would have loved to do Iaido or Iodo again but I don’t have my old equip anymore…

Cheers!