Learning not to speedrun

In my off hours, I’ve been relying on video games as another form of distraction. The game I’ve been playing the most, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, continues to impress me with how similar it is to games from my childhood—insanely difficult, sprinkled with secret shortcuts, and full of boss battles. If I were a kid again, I would’ve definitely rage quit by now. Similar to games back then, I’ve given into looking up guides once I’ve hit a wall with trying to beat a boss on my own. Part of me feels like this game was designed to be so ruthless that you almost need a guide or you’ll spend the next month trying to figure out the strategy for a single boss.

What I love most about the game is that it forces you to be a more thorough player. Jen reminded me that I’m the kind of player who breezes through stories and skips the nonessential parts of games. Early on in Sekiro, I was surprised to see that you could simply run past certain minibosses and not even fight them. While I thought this made the game too easy, I later realized that it was a less explicit way of setting my difficulty to hard—if I were to fight the miniboss, I’d receive something useful from them that could be used on the real boss who you can’t run past. Between the shortcuts I took and the minibosses I evaded, I ended up fighting a boss I could never beat, even if I knew the strategy. (Even with everything I need, I still can’t beat this boss)

At this point, I started backtracking and discovering that the shortcuts made me completely miss absolutely crucial parts of the game. I don’t think of this as poor design for the game itself, but rather an intentional way of penalizing the type of player that I am. By forcing myself to confront every miniboss I come across, I’m not only acquiring the items I need to beat the real bosses, but I’m also gaining the fighting experience needed to actually fight them (instead of just scream and die immediately, which was my previous strategy).

While at first, I was discouraged from dying so much in this game, now I can’t get enough of it—the game, not the dying. Sekiro is such a beautiful game and each boss I come across absolutely blows my mind. It’s been such a long time since I’ve played a game that requires this much calculated maneuvering and strategy rather than the run-and-gun style where any skill-level player could beat it. If there are other games like this that I’m missing out on, I’d love to hear about them.