Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

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General Advice

  • Some controller users prefer moving the "Use Item" to the face buttons and "Switch Prosthetic Tool" to the d-pad to make item use in combat easier.
  • If you're saving up money and don't want to lose it to repeated deaths, you can "bank" your coins by buying bags of sen from merchants at a very slight loss. The first merchant is semi-hidden and can be found in the Ashina Outskirts, before the castle area.
  • Do not forget to equip Prosthetic Upgrades (these are their own item) and Combat Arts when you unlock them.
  • While you don't start with any, you will unlock several skill trees with progress and by exploring. Mikiri Counter can be considered an essential skill, and some other universally useful stuff regardless of playstyle include Breath of Life: Light, Suppress Presence and Ascending/Descending Carp. Combat Arts depend on your preference, though Double Ichimonji and Praying Strikes - Exorcism are a couple of popular ones.
  • You can sprint as long as you like by holding down dodge. While obviously useful for getting around quick, it can also make avoiding certain attacks easier.
  • Treasure carp scales can be exchanged for valuable items. Even if a carp flees and disappears before you manage to kill it, they'll simply respawn after a short while. Some carps are unreachable until you learn to dive later in the game.

Combat

  • Almost everything in the game can be Deflected (parried). It's better to time your Deflects a bit too early rather than a bit too late as the window is relatively lenient and being too quick means you'll still at least block any normal attacks.
  • Keep on the offensive! Sekiro is a game about keeping up a relentless attack and deflecting enemy hits inbetween your own strikes without letting your foes regain their Posture. Playing overly defensively will generally only make things more difficult and make fights take much longer than they have to.
  • There are no negative repercussions to repeated self-reviving, so make full use of it.
  • Hanbei the Undying provides you with some combat tutorials, with more opening up when new mechanics come up. These are all worth doing at least once.
  • You recover Posture faster while blocking, and both you and enemies recover Posture slower while at low health. Shurikens are one good way to keep enemies from regenerating Posture from a distance.
  • You can hold down the attack button for a charged-up stab.
  • Experiment with your Shinobi Tools freely, you get plenty of uses for them and many difficult fights can be made easier by using the right tool at the right time.
  • Use your candy items if you're struggling as the buffs they provide are quite potent. The Temple Arts latent skill Devotion increases their duration by 50% which can be a worthy investment.
  • Though limited in availability until late in the game, the apparition-slaying Divine Confetti item also increases damage dealt against all enemies. All apparitions in the game are (usually optional) bosses, so if you encounter one you can't seem to scratch at all, Confetti might do the trick.

Exploration & Stealth

  • An NPC in the first "real" area (Ashina Outskirts) gives you a bell which lets you access a different area separate from the main path. While you can come back and finish this side area whenever you like, it's worth at least visiting as soon as you can for a couple of useful Shinobi Tools.
  • Look for opportunities to shave a Deathblow pip off of stronger enemies in the world by opening the fight with a stealth attack. Note that this only works for the first pip as they heal back if you try to disengage.
  • You can assassinate enemies while hanging from a ledge or from behind a corner if they're close enough. Ceramic shards which are thrown directly at enemies to bring them to your location are useful for this task.
  • When double jumping, wait until you're near the highest point of your first jump for maximum height. With ledges, you can hold the grab button to automatically grab a ledge.
  • Hidden doors do exist in the game, opened by pushing up against them. Ones that aren't obvious are extremely rare so don't bother hugging every random wall, but keep an eye out for particularly conspicuous spots.
  • Look up and down. There is a lot of verticality in this game with loot that is easy to miss.
  • There's not a lot of gated content. If you feel that a boss might be too hard, continue to explore elsewhere to collect more Gourd Seeds or Prayer Beads.

NPCs & Quests

  • Dragonrot won't kill NPCs, only make their quests and dialogue unavailable as long as it persists, and after a while you'll unlock a way to cure it by consuming one Dragon's Blood Droplet at a Sculptor's Idol. There are about a dozen Droplets in the game but one will cure every sick NPC, so you can be relatively liberal with their use.
  • You can eavesdrop on certain friendly NPCs by hiding behind a wall near them.
  • An NPC that asks if you have mastered any "secret techniques" refers to the skills located at the very end of a skill tree.
  • At a certain point you can hand over a white pinwheel or a red & white pinwheel to an NPC. White gives you an extra plot item (though not a critical one) while Red & White leads to a shop upgrade with more crafting supplies.
  • Restoring the mask with the pieces you find/buy allows you to spend five skill points on one strength upgrade. Mostly useful for NG+.