Sekiro was released today on the 22nd of March 2019, and it is an entirely new game from From Software that is known for their previous games like Demons' Souls, Dark Souls series and Bloodborne.
I am very surprised to not see a topic on this game already, since a lot of people were very hyped about a new From Software game.
Looks like the game is very well recieved so far by both critics and fans alike.
I also bought this game on Steam (even pre-purchased when it was less than 24h from release) and have not been disappointed so far.
My take on it so far is: This is not a souls game. In fact, it's more like Nioh that Dark Souls but make no mistake, the game IS CHALLENGING.
The combat flows superbly, favoring fluidity of exchanging blows with your opponent(s). You have parries, side steps, and jumps at your disposal and the enemies have leg sweeps, thrusts and tackles/grabs to spice up your encounters with them, aside from the normal flurry of attacks in a set number of patterns.
You get a red warning sign when the enemy is charging up a particularly nasty attack, but its from their posture and tells that you have to figure out yourself which particular attack they will do.
Although you no longer allocate stats and don't get new weapons, that does not mean that the core gameplay is not there. It's just streamlined.
You collect prayer beads from boss mobs (that do not respawn AFAIK) and you spend 4 at a time to upgrade your vitality which is your health and your posture, which is basically poise.
You might think only wielding a katana can get boring, which I admit it does a bit, but to spice things up you have throwing weapons like shurikens, fists full of ashes and special techniques (moves) to spice things up in between slashes and thrusts.
Gourds work like Estus flasks and you got some basic cleanse fire/poison etc. items along with candy that buffs your defenses or attack power.
You can swim in water now and falling off a building or a cliff while swinging does not have a follow up of "YOU DIED" screen, which makes the experience very pleasant.
Speaking of swinging, it makes the environment feel so vibrant, with various ways of approaching the enemy. Drop down on them from rooftops, sneak up behind them, charge in with your katana there are a lot of ways of dealing with trash mobs. The way you approach your objectives can vary depending on your playstyle.
Now what happens when you (inevitably) die? No more souls to collect/lose, right? Right. The only real way to die is to be killed (twice in a row) by the enemies. Once when you die, you get a chance to resurrect on spot with half the XP points intact, and at 1/2 hp. This game mechanic has a significant cooldown that can be used once per map, or you can refresh it by praying at a buddha statue which is a bonfire now.
Just like in DkS3 you have the option to warp right from the start of the game to the places you've visited and back to your central hub.
For killing enemies you gain some XP points that as far as I know can only be spent on special skills and techniques for your character that is a shinobi (think: ninja). The game has teased me that I could get back the lost XP from the first death back somehow, although I have not figured out how quite yet. 2nd death you lose your XP points for good. But death is no longer as punishing, and no more corpse runs to pick up souls.
Now I think I've been ranting long enough about all of this by myself so let me put my closing thoughts this way:
This is not Dark Souls, don't expect it to be. This title shows how much From Software has matured as a game making company from their Demons' Souls days. The mechanics are solid, fluid and streamlined, but demanding and challenging. The game is not as punishing anymore with the needless deaths due to drowning or falling off a cliff, and needing to collect lost souls.
The game focuses more on the user experience and enjoyment factor without beating you with a stick over the head for every little mishap. It brings the challenge in very technical fights rather than the environment.
Now I want to hear YOUR experiences so far!