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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Diaries - Part 3

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Diaries - Part 3

Welcome back to my Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Diaries, a series where I attempt to avoid making a fool of myself in this difficult soulslike game. Last time, I managed to defeat General Tenzen Yamauchi, obtaining my third Prayer Bead. I would only need one more to increase my maximum health…

However, before going out and finding another miniboss to defeat, it would be a waste if I didn't take this opportunity to explore further in the Ashina Outskirts. If I left before even finding another Sculptor's Idol, I'd have to run through all of the enemies in this area again later, bar the two minibosses I had already vanquished. A brief amount of careful scouting told me that I had two paths in front of me: a broken bridge to my left and a wooden wall on the other side of the double doors to my right. This time, I decided to take the left route.

Beyond the bridge, there was a large ravine that seemed uncrossable, with a similarly large building on the other side. Thankfully, there was an area to jump down to below the left side of the bridge. Carefully jumping down, I made sure to look behind me. You never know when there might be a free item lying around! There turned out to be an item after all, a set of two Pellets, useful little healing items that slowly restore health in contrast to the Healing Gourd's quick boost. Above those Pellets, however, there was a gecko lying in wait, crawling along the bottom of the broken bridge. It jumped down to face me and, in a panic, I threw a shuriken at the beast, killing it instantly. I suppose I might've been overreacting a tad!

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice The Most Dangerous Enemy

Sekiro, pictured with the single most dangerous creature in the game

Turning back around, I moved on down the side of the ravine, soon finding the Underbridge Sculptor's Idol. I stopped there for a moment — though putting off any healing for now, not wanting anyone to respawn quite yet — before seeing if there was anything further ahead. I passed by a Spirit Emblem that absorbed into my very being when… everything began to shake. I stopped for a moment to look around, but didn't see anything. Even so, I wasn't fully comfortable continuing with such an obvious warning sign. I had found the nearby Idol, so I could come back later.

I grappled back up the side of the ravine and onto the bridge once more. Walking over to the other cliffside, I stopped before a wooden wall to pick up some Divine Confetti, a special item that could be applied to my blade in order to boost its attack against… ghosts? Wait, there were ghosts in this game? At the wall itself, there was a notice posted warning me to turn back and that I couldn't "behead the headless." Apparently, my sword would be useless against this foe. Thankfully, I would have that Divine Confetti by my side! Though I only had the one, so if I was going to attempt this potential "headless" fight, I'd have one shot to make it count. I added the confetti to my item quick use list, just in case I ran into this fight unexpectedly.

Filled with trepidation, I crossed around the wall to find that the path ended in a sheer cliff. Up ahead, there was a branch, so I grappled over. However, once I was crouching on that branch, I had one small problem: I had no idea where to go next! There was another cliff with an item further along, with a lower plateau beyond it, but both seemed too far away to comfortably jump over. I looked around for somewhere else to grapple, but could only find the cliff I'd just jumped from. I looked back at the cliff with the item and tried to swallow my fear. It had an item, so I should be able to reach that cliff. That further meant that I should be able to make the jump, I presumed. I took a leap forward and promptly fell to my death.

Reappearing back on the cliff, I grumbled in frustration and made to try again, this time looking around more carefully. If I couldn't make the jump, there had to be something I could get to. Then I noticed, a fair bit below the cliff, there was a small ledge just barely jutting out. It'd be close, but I wagered that I could jump down there, grasping my hands onto the ledge. It felt close, but I managed to grab on and start shuffling over towards the cliff.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Cavern Leading to Headless and Shortcut

From there, I moved along a fairly linear path of jumping down a series of rocky platforms before reaching the large and imposing mouth of a cave. This had to be where the "headless" monster resided. I cautiously marched inside, sweeping my eyes back and forth around the cave. Soon, the outside light could no longer reach me and I found myself surrounded by darkness. Not wanting to get completely disoriented, I hugged the right wall as I progressed. After a little more time passed, I heard something that almost sounded like moaning, though it could have merely been a mixture of the wind and my own fear getting the best of me. However, soon after that, I saw the path sloping up, and the beginnings of light spilling into view. Was this a boss arena or had I found an escape from the cave? I followed the light and I was soon outside once again, all spooky atmosphere now absent.

I was confused; had there been another path in the cave that I'd missed? I wasn't about to go back and check however. If there was a hard fight down there, I'd want the opportunity to explore and maybe even pick up a few useful things in preparation first. I jumped and grappled around in this new area, following a path upwards. Eventually, I came to an old wall left in ruins. But I wasn't the only one there. No, there was another gecko right in front of me, though the little guy hadn't noticed me quite yet. A few slashes of my blade and it wouldn't notice anything ever again. But before I could move on, I was attacked by another gecko, who managed to get a clean hit on me, quickly beginning to raise my Poison meter. Perhaps I'd spoken too soon earlier: geckos were quite dangerous! I began to panic, scrambling to use my Healing Gourd and back away from the gecko. Strangely, Sekiro instead pressed something along his sword and the weapon took on a gorgeous purple hue. I looked down at my quick use items… I was out of Divine Confetti.

Well, shoot.

Keeping my distance, I managed to actually heal up, move back to the little monster, and slice it to bits. I won the battle, but the damage had been done, and by my own hand. That "headless" ghost would have to wait until I could get more confetti. As things stood, I'd essentially locked off one of my potential routes forward. Saddened, I grappled up into a broken section of the wall and looked around. The place looked run down for sure, but also oddly familiar. I picked up some Divine Grass and Antidote Powder; both items with the ability to remove the Poison status effect, with the Grass also able to heal me and remove all other ailments. It was as though the game were telling me that I shouldn't have worried about the gecko all that much.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Ashina Outskirts Shortcut after Ogre

There was also a door nearby, which I opened. The other side looked much more familiar. It was the large wall that had separated the Chained Ogre and General Yamauchi fights! I'd found a nice little shortcut that could take me from the Stairway Sculptor's Idol to the spooky cave with only a small amount of fighting. It was too bad the rest of that cave would have to wait. Comfortable with my progress, I returned to that Idol by the Stairway and fast travelled to the Hirata Estate. Both of my paths forward at the Ashina Outskirts seemed either frightening or impassable, so it would be better to attempt the other miniboss that had been eluding me for the past three years: The Shinobi Hunter, Enshin of Misen.

Stepping up from the Estate Path Sculptor’s Idol, I grappled up to the top of a nearby building before dropping down onto the grass and heading towards the big doors that would take me deeper into the level. I’d have just taken the road like a normal person, but there were four soldiers loitering around, so I planned on circumventing them. Well, most of them. The one closest to the open doors was a little too close to comfortably allow my passage. I climbed up to the wall behind him and got the drop on the poor soldier.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Hirata Dead Man Before Shortcut

Careful not to linger with the fresh body too long, I passed through the shortcut. It was another long, straight line to the bridge where the Shinobi Hunter was waiting, so I quickly made to climb onto the left wall bordering the path. There were two more soldiers ahead and I wanted to be able to take at least one out without any issues. The men seemed to be shouting at the people hiding inside of their houses to come out and surrender, which meant they were too distracted to see me coming. I took out the one with the torch first, remembering how much I had struggled against other torch-wielders before. That got his friend’s attention; we fought for a bit, but the soldier was unable to touch me and was swiftly executed as well. I remembered that I had already cleared the area out of various goodies and items three years ago, so I just moved onward from here.

At the edge of the buildings, the path gave way to a forest where three soldiers were on patrol; one with a torch and two with these large shields. I managed to sneak up behind the torch guy, but his violent death didn’t go unnoticed. Thankfully, I had a big axe as one of my prosthetic tools, which I used to easily break through both of their guards. Not long after, they were on the ground and I was alone again. Up ahead was a bridge and, past that, the Hunter’s arena. Up above, there was a watchtower that I would be able to grapple to. On the ground, there were roughly five soldiers milling about amongst patches of tall grass. In other words, I knew exactly what to do. I snuck up behind the soldier walking across the bridge — another torch guy — and stabbed him in the neck. For a quick escape, I grappled up to the watchtower before using my height to leap across to a raised ledge. There, I hid in the grass, inching forward to backstab one of the two men standing guard nearby. Two down, I fought briefly with the other guard, barely managing to slay him in time to get away. Grappling back up to the watchtower, I waited for a few moments to let everything below die down. Logistically, it was a terrible idea for the remaining soldiers and the Shinobi Hunter to stay below where I could sneak back up on them, but I suppose they wouldn’t really accept a formal complaint from the shinobi they were hunting.

Soon enough, I was able to get behind every single soldier in the grass and narrow the field down to just me and the Shinobi Hunter, Enshin of Misen. Of course, I was also able to narrow his health bars down to just one with yet another backstab. Now it was time for the hard part. I was confident that I could use the Mikiri Counter to punish the miniboss’s thrusts, but I kept screwing up the timing on his normal attacks and using the Mikiri Counter too soon, dodging the Hunter instead. Twice I tried to play smart, dodging every move, and twice he killed me. Or rather, four times? Shadows die twice, after all.

However, I tried something different the third time. The main guide I was trying to use was being a bit stingy with advice on this fight, beyond telling me to “be aggressive.” This time, I waited for a good time to strike, just as usual. However, I kept going after that; I didn’t let up until I saw that the Shinobi Hunter was beginning to shrug off and ignore my strikes. Only then did I get out of the way. As strategies went, it certainly wasn’t painless, but I was only losing health about as frequently as the miniboss, so I thought it would work out alright. I was again incorrect. After a couple of brutal strikes from the man, I was on my last life with very little health left. It was only then that I noticed: His Posture bar was getting rather full, wasn’t it? Only a few more strikes would leave him wide open, even if he blocked them. I shot shuriken after shuriken and relentlessly slashed at the Hunter with my blade, begging that Posture bar to just fill up. And my wishes were granted. He stopped for but a moment, worn out and leaving his guard open. I did not miss.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Hirata Estate Shinobi Hunter Corpse

And so the Shinobi Hunter became the Shinobi Hunted. I took the fourth Prayer Bead from the man and moved on past the arena to the Bamboo Thicket Slope Idol. I sat and began forming my First Prayer Necklace and thereby upgraded my VItality and Posture. It was a small increase and, as the Hunter had been but a miniboss, a relatively small victory. But, looking back on the three year gap from when I had first tried and failed against the man, I couldn’t help but smile.

Erin McAllister

Erin McAllister

Staff Writer

Erin is a massive fan of mustard, writes articles that are too long, and is a little bit sorry about the second thing.

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