195 words about Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
A different kind of embrace of the serpent
Bracket the tireless aspirations of urbanite conquistadors: When you go into the wild, you’re always traveling in reverse. Sekiro mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki has long had an interest in the porous boundary between human and beast. In Bloodborne, the animal was paradoxically equated with an overflow of the divine, as the quest for the arcane secrets of the stars and the terrestrial legitimacy conferred by ancient blood transformed would-be inheritors into rabid, plasma-famished monstrosities. Sekiro, a bit flatter-footed and more straightforward than its wild older sister, features characters named Owl and Wolf but never quite transgresses the boundaries of the human. Deprive the giant ape of its head, and it picks up a sword; is this not an essentially conservative gesture? One course of action has the titular hero hide inside a palanquin just in time to stab out one pupil of a massive, sublime, white serpent whose pain shakes a mountain. Track the pale snake to its lair, and you slaughter it from above in a howling rain of blood. You’ll hack to death a bull already set ablaze and carve tears out of a limp dragon’s eye. Is it so terrible to be seen?