Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro is a game by the creators of Dark Souls. I gave it a try because Roarke said it fixed my complaints with Dark Souls. I would say it mostly does, but it also has problems of its own.

The first, and possibly weirdest, thing is that if I didn’t know anything about the creators I would have assumed this was by a Western studio with an embarrassingly surface-level understanding of Japanese culture. The main character is ostensibly a ninja, but he behaves and fights like a samurai and is garbage at actual ninja stuff as basic as climbing. The combat system is based around flynning, which is absurd given the fragility of Japanese swords. The whole thing feels like it’s emulating anime and movie sword fights more than anything historical, which, okay, sure, that probably works better for a video game, but was medieval Japan really the best choice for a game centered around smacking swords together?

I also get the impression that the reason there wasn’t much plot in Dark Souls is because they’re just not very good at writing. The opening shows the player character getting captured and thrown in a pit, where he proceeds to decide to lie down and die even though his master is imprisoned practically right around the corner. Once he find the motivation to escape, he does so trivially because there are no guards or restraints, which is then pointed out in dialogue only for the explanation to be “eh, we didn’t bother because we’re pretty sure he’s too depressed to do anything” — why didn’t you just kill him then? Then more guards helpfully explain that there’s a giant hole in the prison wall that they haven’t bothered to fix because they’re lazy. Then you rescue your lord through said hole and he tells you to escape through a secret passage, at which point you walk out the front door and murder the entire encampment, because you’re such a stealthy ninja.

I feel this would all make more sense if our character was a samurai with some ninja training rather than an actual ninja, which would also have the bonus of explaining why people keep underestimating him. Instead we’re made to believe this guy who’s awesome at sword duels and terrible at stealth is totally a ninja.

Anyway, next you get ambushed by an unbeatable boss who chops your arm off, at which point instead of dying from blood loss a deus-ex-machina NPC shows up out of nowhere to give you a magic prosthetic that is never explicitly mentioned to be magical despite clearly being so. Then you meet the tutorial NPC, who is an unkillable zombie that lets you practice your killing techniques on him but won’t fight your enemies for you, because [not found]. Then you go through tons of effort to rescue your lord again from the evil villain (who, uh… wants to save his country from being conquered by invaders), at which point the ungrateful brat says “Actually, I think immortality sucks, so I’m going to reward your loyal service by turning you mortal and destroying my immortality powers so no one can use them ever again, because immortality is such a curse,” and you have to help him do this or else you become an evil warlord who massacres thousands of people for no reason (as opposed to all the killing you do in normal gameplay, which is fine). Why is so much media written by death cultists?

Speaking of which, one of the things I did like about Dark Souls was how diegetic all the gameplay elements were — the corpse run mechanic was a part of the lore. Here, they can’t seem to decide whether it’s diegetic or not. We are told that your lord’s blessing makes you immortal… which is represented by an ability that lets you resurrect immediately after death, but only once, after which you seemingly die for real and get sent back to the last checkpoint. Except we are later told that there is an in-universe effect from you dying this way, which implies you are resurrecting in-universe when you respawn, except cutscenes always play exactly the same on a respawn, implying this is a standard “that never happened” type of video game death. It’s all very confusing.

Even more egregiously, you have to kill bosses multiple times (with extremely gruesome, definitely fatal “deathblow” attacks) for them to die for real, with no in-universe explanation for this. They don’t even visibly resurrect like you do, you stab them through the heart and they barely even flinch. They could have easily tossed out a line explaining this! There are even enemies you fight later who have multiple lives in-universe and have to be killed with a special anti-immortal sword! But no. Sometimes multiple lives are diegetic and sometimes they’re not, inexplicably.

Oh, and also there are heretical Buddhists doing horribly immoral things to become immortal, because only evil people could ever want immortality. I must be missing some important cultural context, because I am baffled why a Buddhist would want to be immortal. Are they so certain they’ll go to turbohell that they think infesting themselves with centipede demons is a better idea?

The whole story feels really incoherent and like there were two separate narratives competing for attention. The core story is about helping your whiny death cultist lord die, which is an extremely narrow and philosophical narrative about a few characters’ personal beliefs, but it’s against a backdrop of the much more realistic story of a country getting ravaged by civil war and people getting murdered constantly, which really ought to be way more important. The two only interact by the normies begging the lord to save them, which he refuses because he’s a whiny death cultist who thinks not wanting you and everyone you love to die horribly ~corrupts the hearts of men~. The soldiers and civilians slaughtered by the thousands (some by your own hand) don’t matter, only whiny lordlings are people.

Other than that, I’m pleased to report that Roarke was correct, and the game fixes almost all my issues with Dark Souls! You can jump with a single button press, and you jump multiple times your height like the video game gods intended. Bottomless pits only take a chunk of health instead of killing you outright, also like the video game gods intended, and you have a grappling hook that frequently lets you save yourself from bad falls. (There are also way fewer of them.) Enemies are no longer too big for the screen. You’re explicitly notified when you can backstab enemies, and backstabs are instant kills. There’s no equipment and only two stats. Leveling up lets you progress a skill tree rather than increasing stats, which I much prefer. These are all much-appreciated changes that make the whole experience much more streamlined and coherent, and which frankly Dark Souls should have had from the beginning.

(The one problem that does carry over from Dark Souls is getting murdered by the camera all the time. Stop trying to make action games with an unfixed camera! It doesn’t work! I can’t execute split-second reaction gameplay when my camera has clipped into a wall!)

The most interesting departure from Dark Souls is the combat system. Most of the boss fights in Dark Souls were battles of attrition where you spent most of your time dodging until you found an opening, then got a single hit in and repeated the process. This isn’t actually very engaging, as it can be slow and tedious, and tends to encourage using the same strategy every time.

Sekiro‘s developers have said they wanted to do something different that better emulated the pop-culture sword duels they were so inspired by. They do this by giving characters two separate health values: One is standard health, and the other is “posture”, a measure of your ability to block attacks. Unlike health, posture regenerates over time, requiring you to press a constant offensive. When an opponent’s posture breaks, you can kill them instantly regardless of how much health they have. The game encourages you to engage with this mechanic by giving difficult enemies extremely high health but manageable posture, making it difficult and tedious to whittle them down like you would a Dark Souls boss and much more rewarding to blitz them to a posture kill through masterful offense. This made me pay attention to and engage with enemies’ attack patterns at a depth I don’t think I’ve done since Hollow Knight — certainly not in Dark Souls. Despite almost every enemy being a human swordsman, they all had unique, interesting, and well-animated fighting styles that made everything an engaging fight. I felt much more proud of my successes and responsible for my failures, as opposed to feeling like I was cheesing things when I won and unfairly screwed over when I lost.

My most substantial criticism is that your abilities are very poorly balanced. You’re given a lot of different sword techniques and subweapons to play with, but in practice, Ichimonji, the firecrackers, and the umbrella are just so good there’s no point in using anything else. It’s a shame because I really wanted to try out everything, but everything else is so situational or inferior I just never saw the point. I managed to get some use out of Nightjar Slash against some opponents, but it was still too slow for proper hit-and-run tactics, and the combat arts that cost spirit emblems were just never worth it. And I never figured out how to use the Mist Raven at all. The designers probably could have trimmed this down to focus on a few core abilities instead.

My much pettier criticism is that medieval Japan is the worst possible setting for this battle system. When I initially heard about the posture system, I thought it was meant to model the fact that real samurai duels are ended with a single direct hit. But… no, you can still land direct hits outside of deathblows that only take off a tiny sliver of health just like in other video games. Somehow this bothers me more than parrying with katanas — that I can forgive because it’s cool, but this… isn’t. It just makes my attacks feel lame and weak and my opponents superhuman, like most video game health systems do. I don’t fully begrudge it because the dual-health system does make for good gameplay and encourages diverse tactics, but it’s just so ridiculous.

Ironically enough, I think a European setting could have modeled the posture system perfectly. European swords were sturdier than Japanese swords but not as sharp, which allowed them to be used for parries but meant direct hits weren’t always fatal, especially if your opponent was well-armored. Fatal strikes in European battles were often dealt through half-swording, a difficult technique that targeted weak points in armor. Sekiro‘s system of direct hits only dealing flesh wounds with the goal being to stagger opponents long enough to perform a deathblow would make perfect sense in that setting. Alas, FromSoftware already used European settings for their last five games, so I can understand them wanting to make a change, but it’s a shame there’s such a disconnect between mechanics and setting right when they decided to change both.

15 Comments

  1. Nerem says:

    You’re missing a lot, yeah. The story is extremely steeped in Japanese and Buddhist mythology and history, and especially Shinto vs Buddhism.

    For one assertion that he should be ‘a samurai with some ninja training’ actually just makes extremely zero sense, since like… that’s what a freakin’ shinobi is already. They’re Samurai caste who gave up their honor for the sake of their loyalty. The other way around doesn’t make sense for the game, because the reason he is that is because he’s meant to be a powerful direct-combat warrior who uses lots of under-handed tricks and stealth. This is actually historically accurate for shinobi in the time period. It’s stylized up, sure, but yeah that’s the point. So the “Heh, DOESN’T KNOW THEIR OWN HISTORY” is funny.

    The reason why immortality is bad is because it is literally eating up the land. Kuro’s immortality is not a perfect blessing that brings happiness to all. You are actually fine with ressurecting in mid-battle because you are using your own, or the life-force of the people you have slain in battle. But when you die and are sent back to a statue is because Kuro had to drain the land of life-force to bring you back. That’s the problem with it. It’s bad because it is directly connected to the life-force of the land, and every time it is used, you’re draining innocent people of their life-force and making them sick by rotting the dragon-tree that keeps the land alive. So yes, while Genichiro only wanted the power to save his people, it would have killed them in the long run. So Kuro wasn’t being a ‘whiny little brat’, selfishly trying to get rid of immortality. He realized he was being a literal leach on the land and decided to stop it for the greater good. He IS saving them from a long-term hell. Which is funny as he’s not even the lord of the land. Genchiro kidnapped him to use his powers for his own ends. He has no reason to help then, they literally want to abuse his power that is also ruining the land to help them defeat his country.

    As for the centipedes, in Buddhism they represent uncleanliness and corruption. “Why would a Buddhist want immortality?” Because he’s a Buddhist, not Buddha. Enlightenment is moving beyond desire and need. These monks have fallen entirely away from enlightenment, which the desire for immortality highlights.

    Relatedly, the Divine Child’s entire thing being in the corrupted temple but completely untouched by the corrupted monks is extremely Shinto vs Buddhism because the boss fight you do to get to her represents the Shinto virtues, which presumably these evil monks have no chance in fulfilling.

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    1. For one assertion that he should be ‘a samurai with some ninja training’ actually just makes extremely zero sense, since like… that’s what a freakin’ shinobi is already. They’re Samurai caste who gave up their honor for the sake of their loyalty.

      I’m gonna have to pull a [citation needed] on that, because everything I’ve read says the opposite, that ninjas were trained and employed specifically as stealth operatives, who did stuff like disguises and assassination instead of busting down the front door and murdering everyone in sight. Even if what you say is true, that’s not how Wolf is presented; he’s a peasant orphan, not someone born into knighthood.

      You are actually fine with ressurecting in mid-battle because you are using your own, or the life-force of the people you have slain in battle. But when you die and are sent back to a statue is because Kuro had to drain the land of life-force to bring you back. That’s the problem with it. It’s bad because it is directly connected to the life-force of the land, and every time it is used, you’re draining innocent people of their life-force and making them sick by rotting the dragon-tree that keeps the land alive.

      You’ve contradicted yourself in the same paragraph — it only drains innocent people when it’s overused, not “every time it’s used”. The Dragonrot is only a problem because they’re in the middle of a civil war. If Kuro had let Wolf spirit him away like Wolf originally wanted, the war would have ended while they were in hiding and they could live a peaceful life afterwards without dying repeatedly to cause the Dragonrot. The only reason the Dragonrot spreads is because Kuro sends Wolf on deadly quests in order to sever immortality.

      The whole thing is the same logical fallacy I see so often: It ignores the status quo when criticizing the alternative. Death really sucks, especially when you’re in a civil war where people are constantly dying horribly. The alternative to the Dragon’s Heritage isn’t some perfect world where nobody suffers. Both options have flaws, but the story takes it as a given that the status quo is better instead of doing a fair comparison.

      Part of the problem is that I think the designers goofed on making the Dragonrot less scary than I think they intended; Emma makes a cure almost immediately and dragon blood droplets are so plentiful I was never in any danger of running out, even though I died a ton. It hardly feels like an unstoppable evil. If the price of defeating death is popping a few dragon blood droplets occasionally, that seems a perfectly fine trade to me.

      Enlightenment is moving beyond desire and need. These monks have fallen entirely away from enlightenment

      Yes, I know, but why? What prompted them to desire immortality in the first place? I’m always baffled when dualists seek immortality — if you already believe you’re immortal, what’s the point of prolonging your Earthly life? The only explanations I can think of are either that they had already done so many bad things they were certain they were going to turbohell (which must be extremely turbo, because turning into a decrepit mummy overrun by vermin is already its own kind of hell), or they were actually monists who didn’t really believe they had reincarnating souls.

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  2. Nerem says:

    Not every single shinobi was the same at all times. Shinobi who were expected to guard lords or do general battle were trained in a lot more straight-forward combat, with the expectation that they’d use their stealth training to help them slip into the enemy compound easier. There’s stories of shinobi replacing the defenders of a castle mid-battle to take the castle.

    He was adopted by Owl, who would be of the samurai caste, or at least willing to give him a warrior’s training, considering he had been training him to be a murderous psycho.

    Being able to cure Dragonrot relatively easy gameplay-wise (there’s only 15 of them in the entire game, and they have a dual-use of allowing extra resurrections in battle) is likely due to the fact that Dragonrot can be debilitating, and you gain a Dragonrot every 10-20 deaths.

    Also take Kuro and go… where? Ashina is blocked off from the rest of the world by the Interior Ministry, and also everything has happened explicitly to get Kuro simply because of his powers. Hell, his estate was razed and his family wiped out by men (like Owl) working for both the Ashina and Interior Ministry. And if he tried to save everyone by spreading the immortality around, then it’d just be draining the land and making everyone horribly sick that much faster.

    Also relatedly, that is why the soldiers at the start don’t bother killing Sekiro. He’s already immortal by that point, so they were content to let him just waste away.

    As for the monks, it’s a pretty important thing in Buddhism that even if you intellectually know that you shouldn’t want immortality or need it because you’d have what’s more important if you discard your desire for it, but that emotionally that isn’t so easy.

    Also they know extremely well that they would not be receiving immortality if they gained true enlightenment. You’re striving to leave the world, to escape immortality and reincarnation. But these men were afraid of death and the end of it all, so they desired immortality. That’s classic Buddhism there.

    1. Not every single shinobi was the same at all times.

      So your previous sweeping statement of “that’s what a freakin’ shinobi is already. They’re Samurai caste who gave up their honor for the sake of their loyalty” was incorrect, then. A lot of what we know about ninjas is mixed up with myth and hearsay, especially in modern pop culture, to the point it’s hard to pin down a hard definition of what a ninja was or did, and that it probably spanned a wide variety of roles. I’m fully willing to believe that some ninja were former samurai who abandoned the bushido code, but that definitely was not the case for all or even most of them.

      And this is all rather beside the point, since as I’ve said the designers were clearly not concerned overmuch by historical accuracy. That’s not inherently wrong, but if they’re using the pop culture idea of a ninja, Wolf just does not align with it. Insisting this sworn bodyguard whose idea of stealth amounts to “crouch behind cover, but if that doesn’t work, screw it, just murder everybody in sight” is a stealthy assassin is just ridiculous to me.

      Being able to cure Dragonrot relatively easy gameplay-wise (there’s only 15 of them in the entire game, and they have a dual-use of allowing extra resurrections in battle) is likely due to the fact that Dragonrot can be debilitating, and you gain a Dragonrot every 10-20 deaths.

      Yes, and…? This is a company that built itself on diegetic gameplay mechanics. They clearly didn’t compromise on any of the other horrifically punishing gameplay mechanics in this or the Soulsborne games, so if their intention was to convince us Dragonrot was worth giving up immortality for they shouldn’t have compromised on that either.

      Also take Kuro and go… where? Ashina is blocked off from the rest of the world by the Interior Ministry

      I’m expected to believe a ninja can’t sneak someone past a blockade? Even if Wolf screws up and needs to fall back on his personal idea of “stealth”, you carve your way through the Interior Ministry in the final act of the game anyway, so he could absolutely murder his way through the blockade. And if he can’t, this same logic applies to Kuro in the Purification ending. If it’s not possible for Kuro to live safely in obscurity, then the real Purification ending is that Kuro gets captured and murdered five minutes after the credits roll and everything Wolf did was for nothing.

      Also relatedly, that is why the soldiers at the start don’t bother killing Sekiro. He’s already immortal by that point, so they were content to let him just waste away.

      Okay, but why didn’t they block the well, like the Interior Ministry does in the final act?

      As for the monks, it’s a pretty important thing in Buddhism that even if you intellectually know that you shouldn’t want immortality or need it because you’d have what’s more important if you discard your desire for it, but that emotionally that isn’t so easy.

      Okay, but what was the desire that drove them to immortality in the first place? This is circular logic. The evil people want immortality because wanting immortality is evil? No, people don’t work like that. You want immortality for some reason, either because you fear death or because you prefer living on Earth to an afterlife. We’re not told any of that, we just see a bunch of mummies sitting around doing nothing. The Holy Chapter: Infested item seems to indicate that even they don’t know and that becoming infested wasn’t their own choice. It feels like there’s a lot of information that’s just missing.

      And escaping reincarnation and entering nirvana is a voluntary decision — it’s pretty key to Buddhism that the enlightened can turn back and stay in the world if they want to. So I don’t understand how they could be afraid of exiting reincarnation, like, accidentally. The only way what you’re saying makes sense is if they don’t believe in reincarnation or immortal souls at all, at which point they’re atheists, not heretics.

      The whole thing frankly feels like the same level of nuance we give to Satanists in our pop culture. “These people are evil because they reject our dominant cultural beliefs. What are their actual beliefs? Doesn’t matter, they’re just Evil.”

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  3. Nerem says:

    He’s a shinobi, not the literal hundreds of shinobi and soldiers that the Interior Ministry have, much less the dozens of nightjar shinobi that might still exist and wish you to kindly stop. Yeah sure you can beat an Interior Minstry guys in a one on one or one on two fight (and not easily, either), handling all the Interior Ministry shinobi at once isss a different story. Also, while he is a shinobi, Kuro isn’t. If the Interior Ministry had been so easily beaten, then Ashina would not have been doomed to lose its war without Kuro’s power.

    “Yes, and…? This is a company that built itself on diegetic gameplay mechanics. They clearly didn’t compromise on any of the other horrifically punishing gameplay mechanics in this or the Soulsborne games, so if their intention was to convince us Dragonrot was worth giving up immortality for they shouldn’t have compromised on that either.”

    Well think about this: Just one person being given the immortality is enough to stress the land enough that it is rotting. The Dragon that grants his power to Kuro is dying from the rot of sustaining just Kuro and Wolf, and it is implied that sustaining just ONE person keeps the dragon from renewing itself, because it is still missing the Aromatic Branch that had been cut from it. So while Kuro and Wolf hanging out and being alive might not immediately rot the land fatally, the land was already decaying.

    “And if he can’t, this same logic applies to Kuro in the Purification ending. If it’s not possible for Kuro to live safely in obscurity, then the real Purification ending is that Kuro gets captured and murdered five minutes after the credits roll and everything Wolf did was for nothing.” Kuro can live safely in obscurity after being purified because his power is no longer a beacon drawing everyone towards him and killing each other. Because that’s why his family was massacred and Ashina began their rebellion, all because of his immortality.

    “Okay, but what was the desire that drove them to immortality in the first place? This is circular logic. The evil people want immortality because wanting immortality is evil? No, people don’t work like that. You want immortality for some reason, either because you fear death or because you prefer living on Earth to an afterlife. We’re not told any of that, we just see a bunch of mummies sitting around doing nothing. The Holy Chapter: Infested item seems to indicate that even they don’t know and that becoming infested wasn’t their own choice. It feels like there’s a lot of information that’s just missing.”

    They aren’t evil because they want immortality. They’re evil because they let their desire for immortality consume them and did evil things in the name of sustaining their immortality.

    “And escaping reincarnation and entering nirvana is a voluntary decision — it’s pretty key to Buddhism that the enlightened can turn back and stay in the world if they want to. So I don’t understand how they could be afraid of exiting reincarnation, like, accidentally. The only way what you’re saying makes sense is if they don’t believe in reincarnation or immortal souls at all, at which point they’re atheists, not heretics.”

    Again, this is the difference between intellectually understanding something and emotionally understanding something. I intellectually understand that most spiders are harmless and are more afraid of me than I am of them. Emotionally I will stay as far away from them as possible because I am actually more afraid of them then they are of me. So while these monks seek nirvana, they are afraid of it, they are afraid of death. This is normal. Even if you are a true believer in something, you can still have natural doubts and fears. These people learned that a form of immortality existed and was within reach, and they regained the desire for life. If this seems awfully cynical on the part of the monks? Well, the game has an extremely cynical take on Buddhism. As a note: Their mummified states actually are references to real self-mummifying ascetics.

    1. Re: beating the Interior Ministry, you kill literally dozens if not more over the course of the game, including not just the ninjas but also their armed warriors. Yes, you can’t take on a whole army at once, but Wolf’s entire fighting style is to pick them off one by one. Also, he’s immortal and they aren’t. Given what the player is capable of in regular gameplay, breaking through the Interior Ministry’s blockade seems totally doable.

      Kuro can live safely in obscurity after being purified because his power is no longer a beacon drawing everyone towards him and killing each other.

      Wait, what? Are you saying he’s supernaturally broadcasting his powers? Where is that explained? Just because he no longer has his powers doesn’t mean the whole world is instantly informed of that fact. As long as people think he has his powers, they’re going to keep seeking him, and probably kill him when they find out he doesn’t have what they want.

      So while these monks seek nirvana, they are afraid of it, they are afraid of death. This is normal.

      No, that does not make any sense. You don’t enter nirvana until you want to. If they’re so afraid of it, they can just choose to continue reincarnating. The reason death is so scary is because it’s not a choice and you can be pushed into it involuntarily. That doesn’t apply here.

      Given the text of Holy Chapter: Infested, it sounds more like they decided the route to enlightenment was Earthly immortality rather than a cycle of reincarnation. That would certainly make them heretics, but it’s also so far removed from anything in real life I don’t see how it’s saying anything meaningful.

      Well, the game has an extremely cynical take on Buddhism.

      I thought the entire theme of this and the Soulsborne series was the Buddhist desire to escape reincarnation in favor of oblivion? The creators clearly believe very, very strongly in Buddhist philosophy. Or are you saying they’re cynical of institutional Buddhism specifically and believe it’s strayed from the pure roots of the religion, i.e. Senpou Temple is their criticism of modern institutional Buddhism?

      1. Nerem says:

        Kuro apparently does basically broadcast his supernatural powers. It’s how people got wind that he can make people immortal and wiped out his family’s palace. He wasn’t like, making people immortal or being killed on the regular.

        Sekiro’s based on various Shinto-Buddhist-influenced tales like Blade of the Immortal, where the reason why immortality takes the form of centipedes and the like, since that is how you gained immortality in Blade of the Immortal.

        But I am actually saying that Sekiro is a very Shinto look at Buddhism and the institution being corrupt is definitely part of it. It’s wrong to say that reaching nirvana and oblivion is the goal of all of the games. I think a much more central theme to the stories is the pursuit of becoming greater than human and what one must do or suffer for it. Bloodborne’s true ending, for example, revolves around bringing humanity to its next childhood as Great Ones, with the protagonist as the leader, but the cost of failure is losing vital pieces of one’s humanity in the process. Part of this is always the cost of immortality, because human bodies are not normally equip for immortality or for being deathless.

        1. Kuro apparently does basically broadcast his supernatural powers. It’s how people got wind that he can make people immortal and wiped out his family’s palace.

          I don’t see any evidence for this. He lived at the Hirata estate for several years, and only got targeted because a trusted confidante sold him out. Even during the raid on Hirata, I don’t recall the Interior Ministry soldiers mentioning anything about the Divine Heir, so it’s possible they don’t know about him at all. The only other person who fights over him is a member of the Ashina clan, who already knew about his powers. We also don’t get any mention of people fighting over his predecessor.

          Based on what we see, it looks more like he had all of two bad experiences of people fighting over him (Owl and then Genichiro), and generalized that to assume people were going to fight over him forever. But both of those two people knew about his powers already. There’s no indication he couldn’t hide himself.

          Re: Themes, I haven’t looked at Bloodborne, but the theme of all three Souls games is pretty blatantly about preserving vs. escaping cycles of reincarnation. And regardless of those games, Sekiro takes a very firm “immortality and transhumanism bad” stance with no further nuance, as I complained in the review.

          But I am actually saying that Sekiro is a very Shinto look at Buddhism and the institution being corrupt is definitely part of it.

          I’m curious, then, because I wasn’t aware there was such tension between Shinto and Buddhism. Can you elaborate on this?

  4. Roarke says:

    Glad you like the mechanics, barring the camera and some imbalanced abilities. I personally think the biggest drawback is not that they’re imbalanced, but that you can only equip one ability and three prostheses at a time. Sekiro should have gone full character action like DMC5 so you could use your situational stuff without having to go through a menu.

    No comment on the story or characters; they’re just vehicles for the mechanics.

  5. Seed of Bismuth says:

    “Why is so much media written by death cultists?”

    well going by Picard season 2 because all deaths no matter how tragic are inevitable and trying to change that lead to the bad future where your a space nazi.

  6. death cult for life babeyyy says:

    I mean, I feel like if you’re coming at it from a pro-immortality perspective, the problem here isn’t how the characters behave within the story, it’s that the writers created a setting where immortality isn’t sustainable.

    It’s like that one RPG Maker game that set out to explore the ethics of immortality, but the “immortal” character’s ability to extend their lifespan comes from killing people and doesn’t seem to result in a ton of quality of life, so all that game ends up having to say is “if you have to murder a bunch of people to live longer and you won’t enjoy it anyway, then yeah, that would be fucked up.” It doesn’t really matter if you can come up with a loophole for how the immortality could potentially not be fucked up. You might as well be trying to come up with a really complicated twelve-part wish Madoka could’ve made that would’ve fixed every problem with the setting, or arguing about the gender identity of some obviously trans anime character who the story presents a confused crossdresser by talking about what the writer who made that decision had the character say or do. (I mean, I guess loopholes would point to an issue in the execution, but that’s a different problem.) If you’re going to be a media critic you need a consistent understanding of the difference between in-universe logic and out-of-universe creative decisions.

    Also, please stop telling people from different demographics than you that they’re representing themselves wrong. I don’t remember you doing this before with nationality, but almost every time you review something with a woman in it you go into a frothing rant about fanservicey outfits or weird pain noises or, I don’t know, some bizarre fucking thing that I would probably think you had at least kind of a point about if you didn’t throw a hissy fit every time you’re reminded that humans are mammals, and then sometimes a nonfictional woman shows up and says she kinda liked it and then you go off on her because no one who doesn’t hate all the same things as you could possibly have anything valuable to contribute. If the gender stuff is hitting you in a weirdly personal place, maybe go ahead and explore that, or something, but if not then consider shutting the fuck up? At least you’re branching out with all this wisdom about how Japanese people writing for a largely Japanese audience don’t know how to write about Japan. Real proud of you, etc.

    (Disclaimer: bounced off of Sekiro because I was bad at it, didn’t love Bloodstained, consistently read as a woman although I don’t identify that way anymore, not a Japanese person living in Japan)

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    1. and then sometimes a nonfictional woman shows up and says she kinda liked it and then you go off on her because no one who doesn’t hate all the same things as you could possibly have anything valuable to contribute

      I think you may be confusing me with someone else, because I don’t recall ever doing this particular thing.

      At least you’re branching out with all this wisdom about how Japanese people writing for a largely Japanese audience don’t know how to write about Japan

      “If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought they didn’t know how to write about Japan, but obviously they do and are making a deliberate but very weird choice” =/= “They don’t know how to write about Japan.”

      1. sorry to anyone who had to remember heartbeat because of this post says:

        https://www.dragon-quill.net/christmas-steam-games-2019/

        You and Tulip both had valuable insights. The world isn’t kind to sex-repulsed people and it would be great if it was more widely known that some people were having that experience, and it’s not that hard to mention if something’s got ecchi vibes. But it also isn’t wrong for allosexual and differently asexual people to like it when horny/sexual shit gets to exist as just another part of life alongside the non-horny aspects, because for a lot of people, that’s how it is. Then both you and Act completely ignored that Tulip was saying she wanted there to be a lot of good horny AND non-horny media. You also lump all people who like women into the category of “gynephiles”, which is technically true and useful in a lot of contexts but in this case the person you are talking to is discussing representation of her own minority group and all you can focus on is that she wants to fuck her own minority group, and all people who want to fuck her minority group are the same, right? Do you realize how extra fucked up that is when the dissenting woman in question is trans and anyone reading her posts would know that because she talked about it in there? No, like, really, because when you reviewed that one game by the virulent transphobes who priced their sale to reference trans suicide rates, you spent the entire time talking about badly-executed fantasy racism plots and getting confused by butches.

        The Momodora shit was the specific example I could track down, not the only one coming to mind (I don’t remember what all of the games are, it’s been a while for both of us).

        (Disclaimer 2: I’m gray-ace but like some horny content, I’ve never interacted with Tulip and know nothing about her besides what could be read in that comment thread, I think I played the first Momodora but I can’t remember a single thing about it, and I wouldn’t touch Heartbeat with somebody else’s ten foot pole.)

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        1. Okay. Can you make this comment on the actual relevant post instead of bringing it up on a totally unrelated one, please?

        2. Actislazyandwontlogin says:

          For my part, Anon, I think that Tulip and I agreed quite a bit, but I thought she and Elmo were maybe talking past each other. She was definitely right that people should have access to whatever kind of media they want, sexy or otherwise, and that people should be able to wear and act however they want, and that that’s not ‘objectification,’ just healthy living. However! This blog typically concerned with media trends and how they effect populations, ie, very large-scale things that aren’t meant as critiques of the individual. I commented because I thought maybe Elmo and Tulip were talking past each other a bit, and when she asked me for recs on how media portrayals affect self-perception I did my best to give some and it felt like a positive exchange on my end. If I came across harshly, you have my apologies for that — I’m neurodivergent and almost always come off sharper than I intend to (no matter how I try to mitigate it…), but I wasn’t trying to be snide or dismissive of her, I genuinely thought we were misunderstanding each other and was trying to be helpful.

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