Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is steeped in Japanese history, but with a supernatural twist


Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has some big shoes to fill lore-wise as the next big FromSoft game. Studio president and game director Hidetaka Miyazaki has packed the Soulsbourne games with their own arcane myths and legends, and it looks like this time around he’s weaving that approach into a story that’s borrowing heavily from the history of Sengoku-era Japan.

The best place to go for breakdowns of Miyazaki’s lore is YouTuber Vaatividya, who has produced a video that pieces together the scraps of information about Sekiro that we’ve seen so far, along with some leaks, and assembles them into a pretty educated guess about what Sekiro is about.

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While some of his information is admittedly based on leaks, key elements were confirmed by press at E3 who got to see a hands-off demo of Sekiro that showed more of the game than the trailer did. Vaatividya also sources the official Japanese Sekiro site, which provides some additional backstory on a few of the main characters.

The video, which you can view below, explains the setup for Sekiro’s story: You play a shinobi charged with the defense of a young prince, the heir of an ancient clan that’s somehow been driven off or annihilated. The prince is kidnapped by ‘The Commander,’ the leader of the Ashina Clan, who believes the prince’s royal heritage is the key to protecting the area from the advance of a hostile invading force.

As Vaatividya points out, the names used in the trailer and Sekiro site are taken from real, historic clans that existed in feudal Japan. But there hints at Souls-style supernatural elements in Sekiro as well: Vaatividya points out the strange Buddha statues, which each have two torsos and four arms, and he seems pretty convinced that there’s some kind of doomsday blood cult involved.

Morality in Miyazaki’s games has never been straightforward, and it’s unclear whether the cult is genuinely evil, or “more well-informed” about the dire circumstances facing the Ashina Clan than we are. In any event, the rich history of the Sengoku period is going to be an interesting setting for a Miyazaki story.

We don’t have a specific Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice release date yet, but the game is heading to Gamescom in August, so hopefully we’ll get more gameplay and story footage there.