Thursday, June 27, 2024

Ranking the Sekiro Areas From Worst To Best


Not a Soulsborne game but I absolutely consider Sekiro to be one of Fromsoft's "big seven" and a part of the overall series. It plays very differently from the rest, though, and is considerably more challenging than any of them. At least until you realize the game doesn't really penalize you much for spamming block. In any case, this game is tremendous and I had a huge amount of fun with it. While ER is their best game overall and Bloodborne is pound-for-pound the most interesting, Sekiro might be the most fun out of all of them. No character-creation in this one, but it allows the game to do a lot more with the emotions of the main character. No build variety either, which allows the game to have really focused gameplay that is centered more on mastery than finding a meta.

#11. Abandoned Dungeon

A cavern. A bland, boring cavern. The foes here are bland, the level design is bland, the art direction is nonexistent. It's like an area from a normal developer's game snuck into a Fromsoft game. Easily the least-interesting zone in this game and I basically just got through it quickly and moved on.

#10. Ashina Depths / Poison Pool (Headless Guardian Ape)

The traditional Fromsoft poison swamp zone. Add in a bunch of gunner type enemies (the most annoying this game has to offer) and you've got an area that isn't much fun to traverse. At least it's short. Someday we'll get one Fromsoft game with no poison swamps. Also it has one of the most obnoxious boss fights in the game. I really don't like that ape. Protip: It's susceptible to the spear when it misses a big attack and falls down for a few seconds.

#9. Sunken Valley (Guardian Ape)

Incredibly gorgeous zone, with snowy mountains and bridges. Too bad it's also a warzone. I'd like to rate it a lot higher, but it's full of gunner enemies lighting you up every ten feet, making it a real chore to go through. Very unfortunate because of how pretty it is. On the bright side, going back through the zone backwards, you can ambush most of the gunners and actually enjoy the zone a bit. It also has the single best EXP-grinding spot in the first two thirds of the game, the Gun Fort idol and the gunner right before it.

#8. Ashina Reservoir (Sword Saint Isshin Ashina)

The intro area that teaches you the basics and gets you acquainted with your sword. It's a perfectly decent, if short, area. However the reason it's in a decent spot on the list is because of the endgame where it comes back into play. The secret passage and the plateau beyond, where the final boss awaits, are an incredibly memorable area. This game might have the nicest final boss arena I've ever seen, for a fight that's one of Fromsoft's greatest challenges. Unless you're like me and just completely spank him with the Lazulite Axe.

#7. Hidden Forest / Mibu Village (False Corrupted Monk)

Technically this is part of the Ashina Depths area, but it's very different from the first half of the area. I like this zone a lot and it's got an interesting vibe/mood to it. The village is mysterious and raises a lot of questions, while the forest is very pretty and has a lot of secrets to find. The only thing keeping it from being higher on the list is the fog maze that always trips me up. It's simple if you look up the solution, but if you don't, you could be running in circles for an hour and that's a real momentum-halter.

#6. Dilapidated Temple (Hub Zone)

It's a dilapidated temple. Probably the worst hub zone in the series, with basically almost nothing in it besides the Sculptor. It looks pretty at least and is a good spot to go and sit between adventures. There's also a trainer you can spar with to help you get used to the gameplay, which is immensely helpful.

#5. Ashina Outskirts (Gyoubu Oniwa, Demon of Hatred)

This zone has a really nice "cold winter morning" vibe that I thought was perfect for the beginning of the game. As the first place you see, this zone is fairly linear and serves to teach you the basics of the gameplay. However they got a lot of mileage out of it, and later in the game it's used again for the re-infiltration of the castle. Also has the most Fromsoft-ish boss in the game, Demon of Hatred, as an optional superboss. I spent a ton of time in this area while figuring the game out, possibly more than any other area, so I've got a real soft spot for it. Only downside to it is that it's kind of linear and non-complex, and can be a bit of a chore to get around in later in the game due to all the blocked-off paths.

#4. Senpou Temple (Folding Screen Monkeys)

Gorgeous zone with orange trees, mountains, and lots of rabid monkeys. Lot of hidden things to find here, making it one of the most interesting zones. The temples themselves are gorgeous (and full of horrifying monstrosities) and stand out as a stark contrast to the peaceful outdoor parts of the zone. If Fountainhead Palace didn't exist, I would say that this is easily the most gorgeous place in the game. The boss fight here is also a really weird one, and feels more like it belongs in a Metal Gear Solid game. The Folding Screen Monkeys are probably the easiest fight in the game, and everything about that fight is creepy and eerie. The game plays mind games with you all throughout. Surprised it doesn't try to read your memory card or something.

#3. Ashina Castle (Genichiro Ashina, Great Shinobi Owl, Shura Ending Fights)

At this point, the top 3 may as well all be a tie, and I could make an argument for any of these 3 being the best zone in the game. Senpou Temple plays the runner-up to this top tier. Ashina Castle is the biggest and most central zone in the game, and goes through several changes over the course of the story. By the end it's an all-out warzone. The evolving nature of it means that it never gets dull, and the verticality of the zone is tremendously fun to play around in with the grappling rope. Also the fight with Genichiro at the top of the castle is probably the most iconic and memorable fight to come out of this game outside of perhaps the final boss.

#2. Hirata Estate (Lady Butterfly, Owl Father)

An optional area that they got a lot of mileage out of. Early on, this zone teaches you how to play, and later on it serves as a final big challenge. Infiltrating the estate itself and sneaking through the outskirts is one of the best parts of Sekiro. Lastly it's got a couple of really integral boss fights with Lady Butterfly, which teaches you how to play, and Father Owl, who tests everything you learned at the end. Father Owl is one of the two big optional bosses of the game, along with Demon of Hatred. What's with Fromsoft games always having two really big optional bosses towards the end of the game? Vendrick/Ancient Dragon, Ebrietas/Logarias, Malenia/Mogh, Demon of Hatred/Owl Father. In any case, Hirata Estate is damn near a game all on its own, and a stunningly well-designed area with incredible visuals. It's the closest Sekiro gets to having a true Sengoku-era normal zone that doesn't feel otherworldly. This grounded-ness is what sets it apart from the rest of the game.

#1. Fountainhead Palace (True Corrupted Monk, Divine Dragon)

I'd say there's a good chance of this being the single prettiest zone Fromsoft has ever designed. It's the final area you discover and technically optional if you go to the final boss early, so in a way it's a reward for fighting your way through the rest of the game. Vast expanses of water and glorious colorful trees abound here. However it isn't just a visually stunning and gorgeous zone. The gameplay here is great too, with tons of secrets to find, some of the more fun enemies in the game, and a GIANT FISH. At the top is the easiest (and one of the coolest) fights in the game, Divine Dragon, which is just a fun breath of fresh air before the final battle.

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