Screenshot via PlayStation YouTube

This could be the Year of the Sekiro-likes

Sekiro's shadow looms large.

There are a lot of Soulslike games that have taken from plenty of From Software’s standard-setting works. Games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order have used the format of the Soulslike and thrown in Metroidvania-styled exploration, while also doubling down on a parry mechanic despite being released before Sekiro.

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Still, despite the popularity of Soulslikes, it has not felt like enough games have taken inspiration from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Many fans of From Software’s games, as well as those who simply appreciate a well-made video game with fleshed-out combat mechanics, tend to refer to it as a masterpiece.

So, why a Sekiro-like instead of Soulslike?

It’s important to lay out what separates Sekiro from the rest. The game places a special emphasis on its parry mechanic and haste within its combat’s pacing. The Dark Souls games, as well as Bloodborne and Elden Ring, will reward players for a well-timed parry. Usually, players get time to breathe and the opportunity to land a high-damage hit, but Sekiro throws in the Posture mechanic.

Posture is the ability to withstand a hit. Properly attacking and parrying damages an enemy’s Posture, and fully breaking an enemy’s Posture provides the player a chance to pull off a Deathblow. The lower an enemy’s health is, the slower their Posture rebuilds. Sekrio did not create the parry, nor did it popularize it, but plenty of gamers look to the game as an example of how to do it best.

Screenshot via PlayStation YouTube

Before the release of new titles like Stellar Blade and Nine Sols, not many titles took inspiration from Sekiro, even though new Soulslikes continue to pop up. This could be attributed to the fact that games just take a long time to make. It could also take developers even more time to structure an entire game around combat as polished as Sekiro‘s.

Many gamers just end up going back to Sekiro because it’s hard to find a similar experience, but with so many upcoming releases, those seeking to scratch that itch may not have to wait much longer.

Games that are definitely Sekiro-likes

Screenshot via PlayStation YouTube

Nier: Automata and Bayonetta were the primary comparisons people made to Stellar Blade when they first saw Stellar Blade. Despite that, this game features a strong focus on its parry mechanic.

It may take Sekiro players some time to adjust to the way that inputs register. Dodging, parrying, and movement have a significantly different weight in Stellar Blade. Still, gamers do agree that the Sekiro influence is there. Stellar Blade even includes its own spin on Posture, called Balance, though it does differ in areas like its skill trees and additional ways to tune combat to the player’s liking.

Nine Sols is different in a couple of ways, namely that it has a hand-drawn 2D art style and features platforming. Regardless, developer Red Candle Games has gone all-in on the Sekrio inspiration.

Nine Sols‘ combat is based on deflection, with enemies putting enough pressure on the player to force them to consistently deflect. Deflection in Nine Sols allows players to store Chi energy to use in charged attacks instead of having a Posture bar to maintain.

Games that focus on parrying

Where Winds Meet is a Wuxia-inspired game that offers versatility in weapon choice and combat approach, though countering appears to be central to its gameplay.

In each gameplay showcase so far, trailers have featured its protagonist swiftly parrying an enemy attack. Everstone Studio seems ambitious with the many different features it plans to incorporate into Where Winds Meet. The game will feature a picturesque open world alongside a narrative that is said to be influenced by player choice. Where Winds Meet is slated for a 2024 release.

Then there’s Phantom Blade Zero. The combat in this game’s original trailer looked too good to be true, and people insisted that it must be scripted in some way. But the more footage fans see of it, the more the game shows its hand.

There are plenty of gaps for player input. Some animations appear to cancel very well into the other, allowing for a wide range of player expression. There is risk, though, as the game seems to force players to commit to their actions. At IGN’s hands-on demo, Developer S-Game pushed back a bit against the haste to lump Phantom Blade Zero in with every other Soulsborne. S-Game noted a feature on “old-fashioned combo-driven traditional action” while using a map design akin to Souls games.

Phantom Blade Zero appears to share plenty in common with Assassin’s Creed and Ghost of Tsushima, but this doesn’t mean it has nothing in common with Sekiro. In Phantom Blade Zero, players and enemies have a Sha-chi meter, which functions similarly to Posture and depletes when guarding. Taking consecutive hits breaks this defense and leaves the target wide open. There is a block stance, but pulling off a parry or perfect dodge can reward players with a counterattack called a Ghoststep.

Games that may continue Sekiro’s legacy

Black Myth Wukong has gamers excited for a couple of reasons. Those who like a good story are excited to see a big-budget video game put a spin on the story of Sun Wukong, while others are here for the combat.

The combat system in Black Myth Wukong appears to be somewhat different from Sekiro. The game appears to put a heavy emphasis on agility, and while it does occasionally show a player blocking an attack, it does not seem nearly as consistent. That being said, there appears to be a similar emphasis on an aggressive play style.

Lastly, there’s Ballad of Antara, which gamers are waiting to see more about, but one thing seems certain—guarding against enemy attacks matters.

Each segment of action shown feels demanding. In the announcement trailer for Ballad of Antara, combat comes off as dynamic and weighty. The game appears to reward aggressive gameplay and consistent guarding. For those searching for something closer to Sekiro than Souls, this game appears to show off more guarding than it does dodging, which could be promising.

Some of these games may take even longer than expected to release, and by the time they all come out, they could end up being closer to Dark Souls or something entirely different. No matter what, there appear to be plenty of interesting action games in the works.

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