A long time ago I did a bit of martial arts. The art that I learned practiced pushing hands, which is a very slow, controlled kind of “fighting” - it is a way of being in the moment with another person, focused entirely on their next move and the flow of the battle. It is meditation in motion. My teacher said he grew up reading about masters of the arts fighting for hours and, as a young boy, he believed they were locked in fierce combat, but as he grew up he learned that they were, in fact, moving slowly, pausing to consider their movements, consider each other, slowly choreographing the entire meditation together.
At its best, this is Sekiro.
Combat in sekiro taught me to be mindful of my inputs like no Souls game has achieved before. Button bashing struggles, here: it is true that relentless attacking is strong, but it must always be tempered with an understanding of the opponents patterns. Practice is rewarding. Each attempt at a boss brings improvement. Randomness is low.
On the flip side, in other Souls games, if you’re stuck, you can usually go and try something else - in Sekiro you’re stuck bashing your head against one thing. There is very little in terms of levelling, stats and gear, and while the maps are somewhat open, their paths aren’t obvious, so most of the time you have to just figure out the next boss fight.
If you compare Sekiro to souls, the story is in your face and central to the game. Compared to any other game, however, it is still fairly light. I feel like there is less to find in the story, too, less to explore - in Dark Souls you could spend hours reading item descriptions to dig up more lore, but Sekiro doesn’t run anywhere near as deep.
When I beat a boss in sekiro, it is because I fought hard and won. I worked at it. The feeling of success and reward is second to none. It is, however, exceedingly hard, and I wouldn’t recommend the challenge to everyone. Much was said about the difficulty of Sekiro, but ultimately, I think that if you’re into games this hard, you’ve already played it, and if you’re not, this isn’t going to work out for you.
Me? I’m still fighting, pushing hands in the temple gardens for hours.