I’m only ~5 hours in but I am loving this game so far. I feel like I need to take a break after reaching a new sculptor idol each time because it feels so satisfying. I love Dark Souls games and they feeling of moving through a level always felt like a despair filled trudge (again, this is good too). You felt like you were staying alive and pressing onward. Sekiro has more of a focus on stealth and thoughtful defense, but going through a section feels like you’re on the prowl just murking everyone instead of just surviving, which is a nice change.
I also am loving the wide variety of options you have on how to approach a section. My biggest problem with DS1 was that you generally only had one, maybe two routes through a section, and once you chose one you were committed to it. Later Dark Souls games and Bloodborne were better at giving the player more freedom, or having sections where there was an optimal path but if you screwed up you were thrown into a disadvantageous state but could still fight for your life. Sekiro is giving me much more freedom which is more daunting when approaching a new area, but so rewarding when you finally develop a route and see it though to the end.
I love the stealth but I will say it is silly. There are tons of stuff you can knock over that create a ton of sound but not once has it alerted any enemies? Is there a hard mode I unlock where knocking a huge pile of logs over alerts the enemy ten feet in front of me? Or where the enemies have any peripheral vision? Or can see down a lit path? I mean I’m dying enough as is but I wouldn’t mind being punished for being the loudest shinobi ever.