I am so tired. I’ve been fighting all night. My sword feels heavy and my reflexes have slowed. I run and leap around from rooftop to stairs to courtyards, pressing on towards my goal. I find myself inside a battle torn open area. There is a horseman blocking my progress. My sword clashes with spear and he gallops around the arena trying to create space. I use my prosthetic arm to stay close, but my reflexes fail me and I fall. I awake at the last statue where I rested in the game, a marker to my progress and failure.
I am so tired.
It was probably around the ten hour mark when I finally beat my first boss in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. I’m not sure how the main character, the one-armed wolf, feels, but me? I’m tired. For the next attempt, I compose myself and make my way on the route that feels like a main road in your home town that you’ve traveled countless times. Finally, we reach the boss. This time the one-armed wolf’s form is sloppy, barely even putting a scratch on him. I’ve been playing Souls games for the past four years, but this is not a Souls game. From Software has taken a step in a different direction, and while some things may seem familiar there is more to Sekiro than even Dark Souls veterans can expect.
So we need to take a new approach. Gone are the days of R1 spamming and circle strafing to hit the enemies back side, as those tactics will only harm you. There is a bigger emphasis on stealth and movement to set up your success; wide sweeps come at you that you must vault over, and thrust attacks looking to pierce you must be blocked to the ground. Taking this new approach has made me need to step back, slow down and hone my skills that I have acquired over the years.
This game is more demanding. It punishes my mistakes more. It requires patience. It requires more of me.
This rings familiar to me on a personal level too. In October of last year, I left my job of almost 12 years to move onto something new. Our needs as a family were changing and we needed to adapt. I found a job where my skills would seemingly allow an easy transition. What I found was that I had a good starting point, but this job would require far more of me and what I thought I knew, pressing me in unaccustomed and different ways. I needed to train myself to adapt to these new surroundings. I needed to learn effective movement and strategy. Like Sekiro, finding the most effective way to approach these tasks is a key to success. Stress ensued, along with doubt. What started off well would soon hit barriers. Frustration came, fear following close behind. Life took its toll.
I am so tired.
When one hits barriers in a From Software game, one of the best routes to seek help is to look to the gaming community. Soulsborne games are known for their community involvement, and even though Sekiro has been out for just about a month, I can see that those characteristics may carry over. When barriers hit me in real life, I need to look to others for help or to lean on. My wife is that constant support for me. She keeps me grounded, makes me focus on my faith and prayer, encouraging and comforting me. Likewise for Sekiro, when I hit a wall, there are always others out there in the gaming community to lend a helping hand.
So I move on. I keep getting better with each attempt. I learn from previous tries. I step out and maybe try something different. These obstacles are not dead ends but challenges that can be overcome with patience and practice. I have gotten better at Sekiro as I play. The more I try, the sharper my skills become, helping improve the skills needed to conquer the game’s challenges. The same goes for my work life. Within this repetition I become a better employee, driving away the fear and doubt and inching closer to mastering the skills necessary for that environment.
I am so tired. Yet after a rest, I pickup my sword and work tools. This may be the the run that pushes me forward. It may fail, but maybe I find a key piece of knowledge or wisdom to make that next run successful. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop I press on, determined to achieve my goal. Part of me wonders a truth the game forces players to confront: if I attacked the obstacles in my life with the determination I have when playing Sekiro, what could I accomplish?