29 Apr 2019
A few weeks ago, a purple swordsman bullied me relentlessly in Sekiro. Most players have probably met him: he's near the bamboo thicket slope idol in the Hirata Estate flashback sequence, not long before you fight Lady Butterfly. I was probably slightly too early in the game to take him on, but kept throwing myself at him all the same. At the end of a long evening of trying, I quit Sekiro in a huff, decided this was yet another From Software game I'd never crack, and prepared to move on to something less stressful. Except, I didn't quit Sekiro. I went back to the game a day later, and I persevered. This Sengoku period-infused grim setting—where the pervasive obsession with immortality is decaying everything—was too compelling for me to walk away from. I recently found that purple swordsman again and killed him the first time. He was a piece of piss. That's because I'd already beaten the game's Genichiro Ashina boss—and like a lot of players, I define my time with Sekiro as pre and post-Genichiro. He teaches you the game by kicking your ass over and over again. I understand things about the game now that I only thought I understood before that boss fight. It took me at least 30 attempts to beat him. I skipped that cutscene preceding the duel a lot.I imagine Genichiro Ashina is the biggest separation point for players who give up on the game and those who persevere to the finish. I'm far from done with Sekiro—I just beat Snake Eyes Shirahagi this morning in the Ashina Depths before work, and I haven't killed anything that requires Divine Confetti yet—but I can't see any further difficulty bumps making me give up at this point. The Guardian Ape took me four or five attempts to beat. Sub bosses that would've taken me tens of attempts before are now taking three or four tries. Instead of getting angry with enemies like I did with the purple swordsman, I just reconfigure and calmly try again. Genichiro Ashina, you broke my brain. But you saved me.