Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, FromSoftware, 2019
A Plague Tale: Innocence, Asobo Studio, 2019
I’m getting old, so I should probably go to bed at a reasonable hour, but I know I will be up late tonight (and tomorrow night, and the night after that, most likely) trying to kill an enormous poo-flinging ape that guards a cave in a beautiful mountain pool overshadowed by a hundred-foot-long reclining Bodhisattva. Eventually, I promise myself, I will kill the ape. But even then, I will not sleep. Other and worse things await me beyond this lovely pool. I may never get to bed on time again.
The source of my sleeplessness, this seemingly endless series of almost unbeatable beings, is the game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Sekiro’s designers, FromSoftware, have already robbed me of thousands of hours of sleep by way of their previous famously difficult games, Demons Souls, Dark Souls (One through Three), and Bloodborne. The major difference between Sekiro and the earlier titles is that in this one I am (much to my dismay) alone. FromSoftware’s previous games all made grudging acknowledgment of their difficulty and allowed strangers to assist one another, anonymously, through online play. But Sekiro’s lead character is named Wolf…and he is a lone Wolf. A stealthy shinobi, an assassin caught up in a blur of shifting allegiances, divine heirs, baffling bloodlines…none of which even remotely matter.