“Variations on a theme” is a phrase I’ve employed to describe the games of Hidetaka Miyazaki, but it’s all a bit more complicated with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It shares ample DNA with the games that made Miyazaki famous—Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne—but it’s also much more distinct. Any particular SoulsBorne game is unique, but looks and plays basically like the others. Sekiro doesn’t. The result is a game that revels in its surprises while nonetheless feeling familiar as an old shoe, or a loyal dog that bites. Hard.
The last installment of the Diaries left Steerpike the Dashing Sorcerer a little glum, O readers. One of my oldest friends had vanished, very possibly by flinging himself into a boiling magma lake. Another died because of my own terrible sword discipline; I accidentally struck him down even as he tried to step between me and a Chaos-eating hose-beast. I also appear to have misplaced his daughter, which means she’s almost certainly dead as well. All that is the injury.
As for the insult? I’m now all but certain that my most powerful and knowledgeable snake-dog thing ally, Kingseeker Frampt, has been manipulating me this whole time. I only hope that the ends to which he has influenced my actions have some honor attached to them, because it’s far too late to turn from this path.
Ahh, 2011. The year in which we were supposed to have the Rapture (twice), the year of the Arab Spring, of Occupy, of the Whipping Judge and Pepper Spray Cop. The year of Steerpike’s Neglecting To Get His Carpets Shampooed, Even Though They Need It. The year of the release of Titus Awakes, which I haven’t finished but which probably doesn’t include my namesake since he died in Titus Groan. The year Brandon, Amanda, Bearwhale, and Ravious joined us as contributors. The year I gained weight, and the year I played games.
As it happens, all the games I rank below came out in 2011, though that’s not a rule. Our objective is to tell you about the games that we’ll remember most from 2011, whether they shipped that year or a decade before. And we’re each taking it in our stride – ranking, rambling, sorting. There are no rules. These are the ones that stick out in my mind. Some made me irresponsibly happy. Others made me inconceivably sad. I leave the rest to you, because I love you all, and I wish you a glorious 2012. If the world doesn’t end in December, be sure we’ll return with that year’s batch.