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Sekiro might be the second hardest game I've ever played

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
First hardest being Thumper, but considering how Sekiro is absolutely DESTROYING me and I don't think I've even beaten the first official boss yet, I have a strong feeling it may be dethroned by this fucker. It's just so punishing. Like, while fighting normal enemies I feel like the game satisfyingly rewards me for playing smart and landing deflects has a really big effect, so that's all good. But the boss guys, god, they are just brutal. All of their attacks feel like 1 or 2 shots, and the healing items in the game are absolute garbage. I mean my estus flask healing gourd doesn't even restore half of my health bar and my health bar is still at the base level.

I like the game and I want to get good, but ho man it is so fucking savage and relentless. I'm at the horse boss guy and while I can pretty successfully take off his first health bar most of the time it still comes at such an immense cost that I have to survive the entire second phase without getting hit at all basically. I'm open to tips but I feel like I know everything there is to know about the game mechanically at this point and gitting gud is my only real option. But oof, I had to turn it off after dying to Horse Guy 20 times and getting punished by two of my buddies getting sick for my trouble.
 

Ludendorkk

(he/him)
Did you explore the Harada Estates? Found any tools? I think you can collect enough beads to get at least one health upgrade before Gyoubu.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
This is going to sound ridiculous but reading this shortly after making my own thread about Paper Marion Origami King and I'm here thinking that Sekiro is easier than the battles in Paper Mario....
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
Did you explore the Harada Estates? Found any tools? I think you can collect enough beads to get at least one health upgrade before Gyoubu.
I have explored there a fair bit and gotten a number of tools, though none of them have been sufficient to give me an edge against Horse Guy.

Full disclosure: I bounced off the game for a time. I definitely like it and want to play it again but I had to play Skyrim as comfort food for a while.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I see you have a Bloodborne avatar. Allow me to make a presumption that you have Soulsborne experience:

Stop playing Sekiro like a Soulsborne. It don't work.


That's exactly what I did until about the second boss and I looked up some videos of how people approached fights, and I had a revelation and Sekiro clicked for me for what it is, i.e. its own thing. It's what all of us Soulsborne-experienced players do. But in short, there are a few huge differences and you can't approach them the same way.

~First and most importantly: dodges don't give you iframes. You can't dodge through a sword (kinda like real life). Dodges are nigh on useless except for what a dodge actually is, i.e. a quick sidestep away from a big overhand strike or whatnot. Dodge-attacks can be very useful if you figure out where there's an actual useful dodge to make.

~Jumping is great though. Not super-useful in combat; you can only jump over very specific horizontal sword strikes, in general.

~You can sprint in combat. There is no stam limit or any other on sprinting. Sprint around like a madman if you must.

~And finally, you gotta parry (or "Deflect" in Sekiro) - get up in the enemy's face and parry everything. That's the other thing you might not expect: you can parry every. thing. EVERYTHING. Pretty much every attack except the ones with the big old red kanji saying "Hey, you can't parry this one." Including, yes, that huge monster's crushing blow that Dark Souls and Bloodborne have drilled into us are definitely not parryable; yes, you can in fact parry every non-deathblow attack from a giant monster boss.

Parry pt2: The parry window is very generous, moreso than in other Soulsborne games. BUT, don't give that L2 a quick tap - Parry earlier rather than later, but press it and hold it until the parry is through.

If you don't land the parry timing, you can and will still block the attack and not take any damage - as above, you can block every attack except the explicitly-unblockable ones, too. This builds your posture gauge, of course, and if it goes up you'll get knocked out of stance and open to a deathblow. But like shield-blocking in Dark Souls, as long as you don't try to turtle behind it and run around a bit to let it drop between hits, you can prevent a lot of damage that way.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Very specific advice for the boss you're stuck on: There's a shinobi tool you should have gotten/unlocked. An NPC nearby gives a hint about how that tool might be useful in that situation. Putting it very explicitly: The "firecrackers" shinobi tool spooks animals, so it's good at spooking the boss's horse and making him vulnerable to whuppin'.

Slightly less fundamental basic advice:

Watch for the back-and-forth rhythm of fights. You'll land a few attacks against their block, until there's a bigger defense spark; after that, they're about to counterattack and you have to switch to the defensive. Parry (or block) until you find an opening or knock them off-balance with your parry, attack until they start blocking and get the Big Sparks; rinse and repeat.

I, uh, forgot other stuff I was going to say right now.
Some other random tips though: you can totes stealth-kill a miniboss and get rid of one of their 2 life-bars right off the bat.
--the Candy that increases stealth can be extremely useful for this.
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
Thanks for the tips. I do already know and understand most of what you're saying, I think in my case it's just a matter of getting enough practice in to git gud.

I haven't touched the game in a couple of months as I was binging Skyrim pretty hard and now I'm doing a run through ME Legendary. I think when I get bored of obsessively reliving my nostalgia I'll go back to Sekiro and give it another go.

When I do however I'll probably start again from the beginning. I've been wanting to play through in english ever since I learned about the... enthusiastic performance Horse Guy puts into the english dub. And at this point it's tradition for me to start over if I bounce off a From game the first time.
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
And yes you presumed correctly regarding my Soulsborne experience. Bloodborne is at the very least in the top three games of all time for me.
 

narcodis

the titular game boy
(he/him)
yeah, where bloodborne is all about dodging & attacking, with careful deliberate steps to manage your stamina, Sekiro is all about running in, parrying everything, and attacking between parries, and then reading their attacks to dodge them (or better yet, counter them) so you can keep attacking more and more. No stamina meter means you go, non stop, until the boss is dead. It's great.

The bosses teach you everything you need to know, mostly by beating it into you, but you'll get there. I tried playing this like a Bloodborne at first, too. Trying to dodge & counter... it straight up doesn't work. Just gotta get in there and parry. Parry parry parry. Also learn the counter skills (mikiri counter, etc) and watch for those openings. You just can't let up on them. At some point, killing bosses by breaking their posture becomes much easier than trying to whittle down their health.

The final boss of Sekiro is, I think, my favorite boss in any soulsborne game. Just... SO good.
 

karzac

(he/him)
The candies are super handy too, especially the Attack candy, which can make it a fair bit easier to break an enemies' guard. Oil and Fistsful of Ash can be handy too, if you can get the timing down.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Yeah, much like in Soulsborne games, there are a lot of consumables that are really useful if you have the presence of mind to use them and get the timing/use cases down, yet most people (including me, 100%, even when I'm trying to make an effort) usually ignore them. Fistfuls of ash in particular are effective in a surprisingly high number of cases, iirc. There's at least one boss they basically trivialize (same boss is trivialized by another item too, if you realize "oh, this applies here, doesn't it").

Attack candy is always very useful, but the Stealth candy is suuuuuper good. There's a miniboss in a room in a mid-game area and with the candy, I stealthed into the room (he faces the door), around the side, and up behind him for a deathblow. Another very late-game miniboss has a really challenging setup/approach, and stealth candy saves the day (or makes it sooo much more viable, anyway). There are a lot of other cases where a stealthy approach lets you deathblow a miniboss, and while you don't usually need a candy for them, they always help.

When you first start getting divine confetti, it's way too rare to just use whenever you need a boost, but while the main purpose is to be super effective against ghostly enemies, it still boosts your base damage against any/every other enemy by a non-trivial amount (25% I think?)

Ugh you're making me want to play Sekiro againnnn.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
OH another thing: if you find a big bell, don't ring it. It gives you an item, a Bell Demon, the existence of which makes enemies harder. If you did ring the bell, no worries, just use the item and it goes away.
 

karzac

(he/him)
Yeah, once you get access to a reliable source of Divine Confetti, it's really handy. Used a ton of it for the final boss.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I remembered a very handy tip for the difficulty:

Mash the parry button.

The "parry dance" where you constantly slam that button when you need to parry can actually be a pretty useful technique, especially early on while still learning. Frankly, I think I used it through most of my every playthrough... Basically, if you're mashing the button, you have a good chance of hitting a parry at a right-enough time. And regardless of mashing or just blocking, if you miss the parry timing exactly, you still block the attack, taking only posture damage instead of health.

There is a mechanical disincentive programmed in; the timing window for parrying is pretty generous, but if you mash the button, that window shrinks a little on each mash. That said, if you time your mashing similar to, say, proper Dark Souls shield blocking (i.e. don't just stand there and do it 100% of the time, just put it up a little early and put it down whenever you have a safe moment), you can mitigate that somewhat. And even if that window shrinks too far to parry, again, you still block the attack. (I also think the time resets once you parry, or maybe even just block, so a series of fast attacks won't be too disadvantaged. Indeed, those can be the easiest to parry-spam through.)
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I just picked this up as well (50% off on PSN through the 10th) and I have a quick question. Sometimes the enemies will use something that looks like a posture breaking move, a kick or a headbash or something like that. Do those attacks do more posture damage and should be something you should try to dash away from, or is it fine to block through them like weapon attacks?
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
You should block/parry everything except for the super moves that pop up Japanese characters on the screen.
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
I disagree slightly - as enemies lose health, their posture regenerates more slowly. There are enemies (particularly a few of the bosses) where it’s in your best interest to sneak in damage as often as possible to make death blows at all feasible, and there are plenty of attacks where you’re better off evading and punishing rather than simply guarding.
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
While that's true, it's not true for every attack, and there are many attacks where even deflection gives you far less of an opening than simply dodging the attack. There are also attacks that do hefty amounts of posture damage and guardstun if they're blocked rather than deflected, so they're often better to dodge than risk a mistimed deflect. Focusing too hard on block/deflect makes bosses like Lady Butterfly, Owl, and the Corrupted Monk more difficult than they need to be.
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
I think the nature of parrying is a big part of my struggle. I was trained by Soulsborne to be precise and conservative with my parrying, because spamming parry is a quick way to get punished in those games. So I went into Sekiro with that mindset, even though I knew it was an otherwise parry heavy game. My tactics were always trying to tap the parry at just the right moment, which led to me getting punished extremely severely as Sekiro is just ruthless in amount of damage you take.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I think the nature of parrying is a big part of my struggle. I was trained by Soulsborne to be precise and conservative with my parrying, because spamming parry is a quick way to get punished in those games. So I went into Sekiro with that mindset, even though I knew it was an otherwise parry heavy game. My tactics were always trying to tap the parry at just the right moment, which led to me getting punished extremely severely as Sekiro is just ruthless in amount of damage you take.
If you start pressing the parry button more solidly instead of tapping it quickly, you might find that that's enough to adapt to the difference. I've heard the same from several people coming in with the same preconceptions as we did.

I can't exactly help because I suck at parrying in Soulsborne and I suck at it here, but that's the impression I get!
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I like how when you parry it goes ding and when you block it goes dong and when it goes ding ding ding ding ding you feel like a god
 
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