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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Diaries - Part 4

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Diaries - Part 4

Welcome back to my Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a collection of connected articles where I recount my experiences of running headlong into a brick wall over and over again until enough of the bricks fall out that I can sneak through. Previously, I had finally managed to defeat the Shinobi Hunter, complete my first Prayer Bead Necklace, and make some headway at the Hirata Estate…

But before I could explore any further, I had to rest at the nearby Sculptor’s Idol, as my health bar was criminally low. Once I returned to full fighting strength, there was only one way forward left to me at the Estate: a bamboo-covered path leading uphill. However, there was also one path behind me that I hadn’t yet explored. In the previous miniboss arena, there was a large bridge leading up to the fight. During some of my failed attempts, I had jumped down there to rest on the various branches until the Hunter and the soldiers forgot about me and how I had just stabbed half of them to death. The water underneath had looked dark in the night, the river flowing down from somewhere higher up. I didn’t want to abandon the fight before, but now that the Shinobi Hunter was never going to return, I thought to myself, “Why not have a look?”

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Hirata Shinobi Hunter Arena Backtrack

Rushing backwards and passing by the newly respawned soldiers in a reckless attempt to avoid battle, I made it to the bridge and down into the river with only a handful of scrapes and gashes. I looked back downwards, seeing that the water ended with a short fall blocked from me by the bridge. Upwards it was. I swam forwards, cautiously looking this way and that to ensure that no soldiers or monsters would get the drop on me. Part of that included obsessively mashing the right analog stick to lock-on to any enemies that I may have missed. Strangely, even though I never saw anything in there, the game kindly informed me that there absolutely was.

The camera shifted to a high angle looking down at the water, showing the unmoving, bright, white dot of an enemy that I had successfully locked-on to. Only… there was nobody there. I shifted the right stick to see if this potential foe was alone and found out that there were allegedly two enemies around, right next to each other. I assumed that meant these two were likely Treasure Carps, wonderfully large fish that, when felled, dropped their scales, which I could use as a sort of currency to gain many useful items from another character. With that in mind, please do not think me a fool when I slashed at the water for several solid minutes in an attempt to hit something that was nowhere within the range of my sword. To be frank, I might still be doing that today were it not for the enemies' eventual response. I suppose that a shinobi splashing his sword around in the middle of a river for five minutes would be hard to miss for even the most oblivious undersea creature.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice First River Underwater Enemies

All of a sudden, this frustratingly motionless dot began to move, as though it were approaching me. That gave me pause: Treasure Carps were designed to flee at the first sign of trouble, but these mystery beings were approaching me? Instead of running away, they were coming right for me. That could only mean one thing: they were about to wipe the floor (or should I say, the river) with me. In a panic, I made a run for it. These were not carp! However, I couldn’t exactly get back up to where I’d been before; the soldiers were likely not going to be as easy to run past this time and I wasn’t quite in my most tactical or stealthy mood at the time. So I swam like a mad ninja up the river, taking the first chance I could to grapple up to one branch and then another. My memory and Sekiro’s movement alike were a blur and I had soon found my way up to a cliff.

I allowed myself to relax and catch my breath before taking a look around. This was the same sort of bamboo forest that was by the newly revealed Sculptor’s Idol, so that place couldn’t have been too far. Perhaps this was a secret area or at least somewhere further along that path? I would have to double back in order to pick up everything if it were the latter, but I couldn’t not explore the new-ish locale! I was a bit disoriented, but still I was able to slowly walk around, cautious of another sudden appearance of an enemy. It didn’t take me too long to notice the new foes, thankfully. There were a series of these armoured warriors walking around on a larger area beneath me and another soldier in the same armour near a fire just across the path I was on. I snuck forward, finding that, no matter where I turned, there were even more soldiers. None of them seemed to notice me, so I was safe for now. However, I was now surrounded by enemies that I had simply never seen before in a location that I hadn’t figured out the geography for yet. Where exactly would I retreat if these soldiers proved too powerful? Jump all of the way down to the river? No, thank you. I would simply have to mark this area off for now, at least until I could see it from another angle or face one of these warriors in a safer environment. I snagged a nearby Mibu Possession Balloon before making my retreat. I didn’t exactly feel safe going back the way I had come, but I possessed an incredibly useful tool: the Homeward Idol, which I used to transport myself back to the Bamboo Thicket Sculptor’s Idol.

Figuring the river behind me was a wash for now, I pressed on ahead, snagging one Spirit Emblem on the path. Up ahead, there was another soldier with a torch, another of my most hated nemeses. Thinking quickly, I grappled up to a nearby ledge to the left. However, as I prepared to strike, I noticed that I was once again right next to a large river, this one being on the other side of the path. I supposed that, as much as I had hated the last experience, trying a different body of water likely couldn’t hurt.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Hirata Second River Overlook

Dropping down into the river with a small splash, I looked around once more for anyone I could lock-on to, finding yet another mysterious underwater adversary somewhere beneath me. Unwilling to spend another moment in the same space as this unknown being, I moved away from the cliff’s edge and underneath a large bridge. As I swam underneath the supports, it felt as though I was passing through some sort of imposing gateway, like a scared traveller being driven off of the road and into a manor owned by a ferocious monster. These hopefully unfounded fears were soon completely wiped away when my furtive, darting eyes caught sight of a Treasure Carp. A real one this time, with a flash of orange scales peeking out from the water as the fish swam around.

I was on the Carp in an instant, chasing my prey up the river and waiting for the perfect time to strike. Soon, my brief fishing trip proved fruitful and I had a very pretty Treasure Carp Scale to show for it. Up here, the river didn’t extend any further — or at least, it didn’t lead anywhere I could follow. Thankfully, there was a low branch connected to a raised ledge at the bottom of the nearby cliffside. Once out of the water, I had to cut my way forward through some bamboo trees, finally living the life of a movie explorer cutting through trees and vines to show my inability to exist alongside plantlife, and the fact that I have a cool sword. On this short path, I managed to pick up three more Spirit Emblems and a single dose of Contact Medicine. The Contact Medicine, which instils a weak poison on the user, didn’t seem terribly helpful at the time. The item’s description carefully notes one possible application however: because being afflicted by one type of poison makes the player immune to all other poisons, accepting a poison that doesn’t damage them all that much can make areas and enemies that rely on poisoning their adversaries far easier to deal with. The description also mentions a “specific technique” that it can be used for, but I supposed that was just something I would have to figure out myself.

After cutting past one final row of bamboo trees, I found myself in front of two short, symmetrical walls, arranged such that I could wall jump between them up to the top of the cliff. My first attempt in leaping to and fro up the cliffside ended less than successfully. I had reached the top, but hadn’t quite realised it and kept jumping. Eventually, there was no second wall to bounce off of and I instead fell all of the way back down, taking a small amount of falling damage. I had not even realised Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice had falling damage!

However, the second time was the charm and I was soon atop the cliff, looking deeper into the thicket above. There was a short path around the corner, leading to this small building that almost seemed to be a temple of sorts. And atop that possible temple was another shinobi, framed against the sky. Was this someone I could talk to? A new NPC? I hadn’t seen one in ages! I moved forward, one step at a time, until I would be in range for the lock-on to work. Sadly, it did. And shortly after that worked, the ninja was on the move, dropping down to my level in mere seconds, drawing his blade and advancing. A shame, to be sure, but at least I was facing a new enemy type alone in a straight fight. I couldn’t see his name, so this was just a normal foe. I thought to myself that it might be hard and I might die once or twice, but that I would be able to learn how to deal with him before long.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Ministry Ninja Afar Monocular

That was before I made four attempts and died twice every time.

This enemy, whom I learned was known as an Interior Ministry Ninja, was incredibly fast and precise. With a series of kicks and bladework, he was unrelenting. I normally tend to prefer dodging my opponents and baiting attacks, but that was not working here. If I managed to move around an attack and get in close, I would find myself trading blow after blow. Every one of my hits on the Ninja were returned to me threefold. If I moved out of the way of his strikes, I had to continue backing up until I was full-on running away and around the building, and ultimately got hit once I lost sight of him. It took some getting used to, but deflecting the Ninja’s attacks worked a lot better in the moment. I was able to fend off most of his attacks this way, but in the process, I racked up loads of Posture damage. If I allowed my Posture to be depleted, I would be easy pickings. Thankfully, the Ninja occasionally did a special kick that allowed me to use my Mikiri Counter to leave him wide open for a moment. However, he was back on his feet and delivering blow after blow against me before I had a chance to restore my Posture.

Eventually, I grew unwilling to risk Dragonrot, a strange disease that can infect people in the game’s world if Sekiro dies too often, and tried to find some sort of strategy online. One crazy idea that sounded interesting mentioned jumping back down to the water after engaging the Ninja in combat. Allegedly, he would stay on the ground rather than leap back up to his perch on top of the building. This way, I would be able to sneak up behind him and execute him with style and grace. With only one health bar, that would bring an end to the fight. Finally, a benefit to my greatest foe not actually being a miniboss.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Walljump Before Ministry Ninja

Once more, I climbed. However, instead of engaging my fellow ninja in close-quarters combat, I threw a shuriken from my Shinobi Prosthetic as soon as I was in range, then high-tailed it out of there and jumped into the water. Once more, I took a small amount of falling damage, but that was a small price to pay for revenge. Again, I jumped back and forth up the cliff. I crouched as I rounded the corner, not wanting the sound of my running to alert the Ninja. I was happy to see that the internet advice was correct and that he was indeed standing around in the grass. I was less happy to see that he was facing the route leading up to him, meaning that sneaking around him was virtually impossible. I took a deep breath. This was probably just him retreating up the path after I took so long to return to the clifftop; if I took less time after shooting the ninja, I would probably be able to catch him. Once more, I threw a shuriken, but in my retreat, I instead jumped down the two symmetrical walls. It was much closer and would allow me to get back up in record time! It was a genius idea.

However, that also allowed the Ninja to follow me down, which I noticed when a blur passed along my screen as I made my ascent for the third time in the fight. With a strangled yelp, I fell back into the river, hoping he wouldn’t follow me. With a practised effort, I grappled up to the nearby low branch once more. Moving around a lot tended to work wonders for evading my enemies’ sights. There wasn’t much room here, but if I could lose the Ninja in any way, this was it. However, the Ninja seemed to be following my moves and jumped into the river right as I reached the branch.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice The Ninja Has Drowned

Time seemed to slow down around me as fear dawned on me once more. Up at the clifftop, there was at least some space to move around and reposition myself, but this low cliffside had essentially zero room to manoeuvre. With the Ninja’s unrelenting attacks, I would be entirely screwed, even if he too had little room to jump around. I was absolutely scrambling for any kind of plan that could salvage this mess, when… a message popped up on the screen. I’ve found a Scrap Iron? Where did that come from?

I cleared the message and money flew into me from the river. My most fearsome foe had drowned.

I felt guilty, coming out on top in this impossible duel, not through great effort or a well-planned trick, but by sheer happenstance. At the same time, I could not contain my relief and joy at the lucky outcome. All the same, I climbed back up a fourth time. With no one to stop me, I finally approached the front of the building, claiming the Mist Raven Feathers. Taking them back to the Sculptor in the Dilapidated Temple, I received a new Prosthetic Tool, the Mist Raven. This new ability allowed me to essentially teleport around enemies whenever I took damage. I’m not always great at using counter-like abilities, especially ones that actually require the user to take damage, but I was happy to accept the new tool as a reward. Particularly once I realised that poison damage also counted as damage for the Mist Raven. Perhaps this was what the Contact Medicine’s description had been referring to. If I could constantly take a small amount of damage, wouldn’t I be able to use the Mist Raven to teleport whenever I wished to? Either way, I was ecstatic to finally be done with the Interior Ministry Ninja.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Mist Ravens Feathers

For now, at least.

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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