I love all of the Soulsborne games I’ve played, but I am utterly awful at all of them. This, combined with my utter lack of patience or ability to adapt, has meant that while I have been enamoured by their gloomy worlds and odd lore, I have not been able to make much headway in them before putting my head through drywall one too many times and giving up the ghost entirely.
In Dark Souls II, it was The Lost Sinner’s endless reach and infuriating darkness that ended me. In Dark Souls III, Aldrich’s nonsense halted my progress. As for Bloodborne, I took one look at Vicar Amelia, died in seconds, and decided that it was beyond me as a human being to beat it. Like I said, I’m not exactly cut out for these games, either biologically or psychologically.
Despite all that, I picked up Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice from the masters of masochism, FromSoftware, to see if it would be more my speed. For the early goings, it was — I was deflecting blows like an anime character doped up on sugar pills, riposting and landing deathblows as if my body had been taken over by someone else. I was really feeling it, this was the first Souls-esque game I was not going to be total ass at; I might even be able to eventually complete it using bongo drums and my feet.
And then along came the Chained Ogre, the harshest reminder of my scrubbery possible. And he isn’t even a goddamn boss.
You encounter the Chained Ogre on the Ashina Outskirts at the top of a flight of stairs; I’ve killed the two chilling enemies preceding him so many times by now that they’re barely even worth mentioning. He starts off shackled, which is clearly not going to last long before he breaks free and starts on his rampage of cheap nonsense.
While you can get in plenty of hits on him before he is unshackled, finishing him off conventionally is another matter. I’ve found his grab attacks to be very difficult to read, especially as he seems to be able to grab even when you’ve dodged. A single grab and throw (which can also hilariously throw you off the level to your death outright) will deal huge damage to you and leave you with barely even a pixel of health left in your bar, while his regular attacks can also eviscerate in seconds. Apparently someone’s been watching WWE because his dropkicks are lethal.
So far, I’ve found almost no strategies that even put a significant dent in him. Dodging seems to not have the precision needed to evade all his grabs, while leaping up in the air will often result in a massive boot to the face. I’ve tried cheesing it by landing a single safe hit and then running away, but he always finds a way to grab me. Even more cheesily, I have waited for him to release himself, ran away, and then came back and snuck up on him to land a deathblow, but that still leaves half his health that I cannot seem to chip away at. Even resurrecting doesn’t do much; the whole land must be Dragonrot by now.
I dread to think how many times the Chained Ogre has bested me in Sekiro, each time resulting in me crying over some perceived unfairness. It’s obvious that FromSoftware have designed him to be the first true test, the encounter that acts as a roadblock for those who don’t want to fully commit themselves to what Sekiro is all about.
But I am not going to give up; Sekiro will be the Souls-like I actually make myself proud with. I know I can do it, whether that’s through practising with my undying friend for hours until I get dodging down to a science, or if I have to cheese so hard that the English region of Wensleydale decides to rename itself in my honour. Sekiro is shaping up to be something special indeed, and I will be damned if I let some red-eyed bum stop me from experiencing it.