2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Game BasicsUpdate notes

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Overview

Sekiro is an action game with stealth elements focused primarily on sword combat. Success will require mastering the basics of combat as well as knowing the different attacks that each enemy does and understanding how to best respond to them.

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Your character has two distinct physical attributes: health and posture. The health meter is displayed in the lower left corner of the screen and the posture meter appears at the bottom center whenever your posture has taken damage. Getting hit by enemy attacks causes damage to both health and posture.

You want to try to keep your health meter full and your posture meter empty; if you run out of health, you die and if your posture meter gets filled completely, your posture will break, leaving you stunned and vulnerable for a couple of seconds.

There are two primary defensive actions: guarding and deflecting.

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Guarding is done by holding cn_L1 to use your sword like a shield. While guarding enemy attacks, health damage is either greatly reduced or prevented altogether and posture damage is reduced. Deflecting an enemy attack requires precision timing and is done by guarding the moment before the attack hits you. Deflecting results in a different sound and animation than guarding, making it easy to tell when you have done it properly. Deflecting an attack has multiple benefits: it greatly reduces (or prevents) posture damage, it causes damage to enemy posture (enemies also have a posture meter), and it can leave the enemy open to a counterattack. Note that you can guard/deflect gunshots and arrows, also.

You can also dodge (sidestep) by pressing cn_O and there are circumstances where dodging is better than deflecting, but by and large, deflection should be your go-to response to most enemy attacks.

After you take posture damage, your posture meter will deplete automatically over time. The speed at which it depletes is proportional to how much health you have- if your health is full, posture will deplete more quickly. If your health is low, posture will deplete more slowly. This goes for enemy posture, too, so if you notice an enemy's posture depletes quickly, work on chipping away at their health. Posture will also deplete more quickly when you are actively guarding. This is crucial in many battles where it becomes necessary to balance offense, deflecting, restoring health, and guarding for faster posture depletion.

You can only kill enemies by delivering a deathblow, which you are prompted to do under a few different circumstances: if you fill their posture meter (which breaks their posture), if you deplete their health meter, or through stealth (sneak up from behind or plunge from above). A small red circle will appear on an enemy to indicate that they are vulnerable to a deathblow.

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You should always try to deal deathblows through stealth as this avoids direct confrontation. If you must engage an enemy directly, you will want to use a combination of attacks and deflections so you can break their posture and deal a deathblow. Some weak enemies can be overwhelmed and killed through aggressive attacks but most enemies will require a back and forth of attacks and deflects to defeat. An important strategy against most enemies is to attack until you get deflected, then stop attacking and be ready to react to the enemy counterattack (usually with a deflection of your own). Enemies will attack you in many different ways with various timing and it's essential to understand what is coming so you can react properly.

Stronger enemies require more than one deathblow to defeat.

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These mini-bosses and bosses have their health bar displayed in the upper left corner of the screen. Red circles above the health bar indicate how many deathblows are needed to kill them. It is sometimes possible to deal the first deathblow through stealth but any beyond that will have to be dealt through direct combat.

Some enemies will do Perilous attacks that are indicated by a red kanji. These attacks must be reacted to in specific ways: a perilous sweep must be jumped over, a perilous grab must be avoided by dodging or jumping away, and a perilous thrust can be deflected with very precise timing or eventually countered once you learn a specific skill. It's up to you to determine which type of perilous attack the enemy is doing based on their movement and motion. If you jump over a perilous sweep and land near the enemy, you can press cn_X before landing to stomp on their head, dealing some posture damage.

All non-perilous attacks can be guarded or deflected. There some circumstances where dodging works better but I found deflection to be the best way to handle most enemy attacks.

Some enemy attacks will knock you to the ground. If this happens, you want to tap cn_O or cn_X to roll away and get back up. If you don't do so quickly, enemies can continue to attack you while you lay there vulnerable.

Controls

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cn_start Pausecn_X Jump
cn_LS Movement (press to crouch)cn_O Sprint (hold), Step dodge (tap)
cn_RSCamera Movement (press to lock on)cn_S Action
cn_R1 Attack (hold for a thrust attack)cn_T Use Item
cn_L1 Guard (Deflect if timed properly)cn_left cn_right Cycle Quick Items
cn_R2 Prosthetic Toolcn_up Cycle Prosthetic Tool
cn_L2 Grappling Hookcn_down Eavesdrop

*I swapped "Use Item" to cn_T and "Cycle Prosthetic Tool" to cn_up through the Options -> Controller Config menu so I didn't have to move from the left stick to the d-pad to heal.

Sculptor's Idols

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Sculptor's Idols are found throughout the world and serve several purposes. Upon resting (communing) at an idol:

  • Your health is restored and a checkpoint is created
  • The Healing Gourd is refilled
  • Nearby enemies are revived/reset to their starting locations and states
  • Spirit Emblems and consumables on hand are topped off from excess storage

Several actions can be performed at Sculptor's Idols depending on certain advancement:

  • Travel to any other previously visited unlocked idol.
  • Use skill points to acquire skills
  • Redeem Prayer Beads to improve vitality (health and posture)
  • Enhance attack power with boss memories
  • Cure Dragonrot

Death and Resurrection

You will die as you play through the game. A lot. To normal enemies while exploring the world and to bosses and mini-bosses while you develop a strategy to beat them. But death is not necessarily permanent- when you die, you be given an option: press cn_L2 to die or press cn_R2 to resurrect.

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The first time you choose to resurrect, a trophy will unlock:

You will come back to life with half health and further resurrection will be temporarily locked, as indicated by a slash through your resurrect nodes.

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You can unlock further resurrection- removing the slash- by dealing deathblows to enemies and then if you die, you can resurrect again. One resurrect node will recharge by resting at a Sculptor's Idol. A second (and eventual third) can be recharged by dealing deathblows to enemies. If you die and do not (or cannot) resurrect, you will respawn at the most recent Sculptor's Idol and suffer a permanent loss. The death penalty cannot be reversed: you lose ½ of the experience towards your next skill point and ½ of the sen that you are carrying. You do, however, have a chance to avoid this death penalty through Unseen Aid. You start with a 30% chance of receiving Unseen Aid. This number decreases through continual deaths, which eventually cause some NPCs to contract an illness called Dragonrot.

Dragonrot

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Each time you die without resurrecting, you have a chance to inflict NPCs with Dragonrot. When this happens, you will receive a Rot Essence item. Affected NPCs will not be able to advance questlines, which is a negligible inconvenience and Unseen Aid chance is reduced for each Rot Essence that you receive. It is possible to cure Dragonrot as with the help of Emma, but it's really not something you need to worry too much about as the only real effect it has is the reduced chance of receiving Unseen Aid.

Prosthetic Tools

Prosthetic Tools are special weapons that can be made by the Sculptor from Shinobi Tools that you will find throughout the world.

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Once you find (or buy) a Shinobi Tool, talk to the Sculptor and he can create the associated Prosthetic Tool. There are 10 different Shinobi/Prosthetic Tools in total, each with unique abilities, effects, and uses. There is also an an upgrade tree that allows for improved versions of each tool.

You must fully upgrade each Prosthetic Tool for a trophy. I will explain in the walkthrough the fairly limited places where I find Prosthetic Tools to be helpful but feel free to experiment to see if you can find a way to make better use of them.

Skills

There are five skill trees that can be unlocked by obtaining the Esoteric Texts: Shinobi Arts, Prosthetic Arts, Ashina Arts, Temple Arts, and Mushin Arts.

Each skill tree consists of a series of skills that can be unlocked with skill points. You earn skill points by killing enemies to gain experience. When you die without resurrecting, you lose half of the experience towards your next skill point, but once you earn a skill point you cannot lose it by dying. Keep an eye on skill point progress and if you are close to the next one, you should try to get there before engaging tough enemies as to not risk losing a lot of experience upon death.

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There are three different types of skills:

  • Combat Arts- special attacks that are used by pressing cn_L1 + cn_R1 and require Spirit Emblems to use
  • Shinobi Martial Arts- situational abilities that can be done whenever the opportunity is available
  • Latent Skills- passive skills that are always in effect

I personally found no use for the Combat Arts beyond the first that you unlock (Whirlwind Slash) and therefore don't make specific mention of any others in the walkthrough. Feel free to experiment as unlock others to see if you find them useful. You must unlock all of the skills in the five skill trees for a trophy and this will be the last thing you do as the amount of experience needed far exceeds what you'll earn in the course of even four full playthroughs.

There is a fourth type of skills- Ninjutsu Techniques (three total)- that are unlocked by defeating specific bosses and can only be used under certain circumstances.

Consumables

There are a number of different consumable items that provide a wide variety of benefits. The few that I find useful:

ItemEffect
Homeward IdolReturns you to the last Sculptor's Idol or to the Dilapidated Temple (infinite uses)
Healing GourdRestores health. Refilled by resting at a Sculptor's Idol. Max uses increased with Gourd Seeds.
PelletsRestores health over time
Ako's SugarIncreases damage by 12.5% for 30 seconds
Gachiin's Sugar Greatly increases stealthiness for 1 minute
Yashariku's Sugar Halves health and posture, increases damage by 25% for 30 seconds
Divine Confetti Allows for normal damage against Apparition enemies for 1 minute
Pacifying AgentReduces Terror buildup and grants temporary Terror resistance
Dousing PowderReduces Burn buildup and grants temporary Burn resistance
Antidote PowderReduces Poison buildup and grants temporary Poison resistance
Fistful of Ash Throw at an enemy to create a cloud of smoke and temporarily distract them
Ceramic ShardThrow at an enemy to draw their attention
OilCovers an enemy in oil and increases its vulnerability to the Burn status abnormality
Coin PursesConsume for sen: 100 (Light), 500 (Heavy), and 1000 (Bulging)
Sake/Monkey BoozeGive to Emma, the Sculptor, and Isshin Ashina for additional dialogue (optional)

World Map

The in-game world map doesn't provide much detail other than the names and relative locations of each area.

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This incredible map, created by Reddit user u/lane_cruiser (Lucas Reiner), provides a lot of information: Sculptor's Idol connectivity, boss availability and progression, Prayer Bead and Shinobi Tool locations, etc.

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