Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a game that enters into a long-held tradition of From Software games with gnarly difficulty and epic bosses. Bosses aren’t just an addition in Dark Souls or Bloodborne; they are the main feature. Every one of them is a mountain to be ascended, and you’re just going to have to train yourself on how to climb these particular mountains.
Sekiro is no different in this regard. With 16 epic bosses, From’s shinobi opus of honor and blood utilizes an adaptive version of battle and traversal from previous games to create some of the most intense, soul-shaking, sweat-drenched battles in the history of the medium… and we’re here to break ’em down for you, live and in color.
16) Corrupted Monk
By far, the least engaging boss in Sekiro is the first version of the Corrupted Monk. Essentially an over-large version of one of the game’s many mini-bosses, this iteration of the Corrupted Monk has very little to offer. With only a single deathblow marking his end, he is one of the most easily conquered and least satisfying bosses in the game. Though he puts up a decent fight, his place is destined to be at the bottom of this list.
15) Headless Ape
By the time you’ve reached the Headless Ape, you’ve already dealt with a headless ape. The shock of the initial ape getting up after his decapitation is a fantastic moment, but this battle is just redundant. The second stage tries to spice things up by introducing a second ape, which makes things much more frenetic, but since this additional ape shares the same attack patterns, it still just feels like a re-skinned boss, more challenging though it might be.
14) True Corrupted Monk
Though the setting of this fight is jaw-dropping, like with the Headless Ape, most players will be left wondering why they’re doing this all over again. The True Corrupted Monk would actually be a pretty cool boss had you not already faced an inferior version of her earlier, but since you have, even her evolved second and third forms bring little enough to the table to make her truly impressive. However, points for the moment when that centipede head bursts out in the third stage… pure nightmare fuel.
13) Lady Butterfly
Depending on how you play the game, Lady Butterfly will either be the first or second boss you face in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Either way, she’s one tough nut to crack. She moves fast, walks on invisible tightropes, and meets you in one of the game’s best settings. Unfortunately, her second form does too little to justify its existence, leaving most frustrated players wanting this fight to be over with. Her design, though, wow. I’ll bet you’ve never battled an elderly ninja warrior in any game, ever.
12) Folding Screen Monkeys
Though this placement may be somewhat divisive, I think the Folding Screen Monkeys are one of the best surprises in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Reminiscent of the classic Metal Gear Solid 3 boss, The End, the Folding Screen Monkeys fight sees you sneaking around and utilizing environmental hazards to get the best of the 4 eponymous primates, one by one. With plenty of fun mechanics and the sinister ghost monkeys always on your trail, this is a battle that starts seemingly effortless before growing increasingly tense.
11) Divine Dragon
In a time-honored tradition of From Software games, the Divine Dragon is a puzzle style boss. A huge, imposing God who must be defeated via cunning rather than might, the Divine Dragon is more bark than bite. Once you get past the trash mob first stage, you will mainly be reckoning with your own anxiety more than anything. After you’ve got a hold of yourself, you’ll see that the Divine Dragon takes very little to conquer. Still, with lightning striking and soaring gales of wind, this battle is epic in every sense of the word.
10) Genichiro, Way of Tomoe
Even if your second run-in with Genichiro has only a little to set it apart from the final stage of the previous encounter, the setting and stakes of the fight make the Way of Tomoe a moment of proper tension. Now equipped with the Black Mortal Blade, Genichiro brings everything he’s got to take down Wolf and take the Dragon’s Heritage by force. The whistling reeds, strong winds, and a storm brewing on the horizon make the final battle with Genichiro an intense affair.
9) Great Shinobi Owl
Owl is a fierce opponent and probably one of the leading walls players will hit in Sekiro bosses. His massive sword, the speed of his strikes, and the small size of the arena will leave players scrambling to overcome him. All it takes is one mistake, and Owl can have you down for the count. Also, when things get tough, Owl is not afraid to fight dirty. A brutal encounter, charged with rage and treachery, the fight with Owl is a battle to be remembered.
8) Isshin Ashina
Siding with Owl at a crucial plot point will unlock this battle and seal the player’s fate as a Shura. Isshin Ashina may be old, but he’s still one of the greatest warriors in the land, and when he steps up to put down the latest Shura, he means business. Though the fight begins as a straightforward duel with a sword-fighting master, it evolves into a daring feast for the eyes, as Wolf and Isshin weave their way in and out of flames in a desperate battle for victory.
7) Owl Father
There are two moments in the game where Wolf will be struck by an unseen blade off-screen, dooming him to death. As players might suspect, Owl, your adoptive father, is responsible for both. This secret boss, in the flashback at Hirata Estate, confirms as much. Younger, faster, and more sinister, Owl Father is an even crueler version of the wall that players hit earlier in the game with the elder Owl. His second stage, complete with an owl’s flaming spirit, will test the mettle of even the greatest Sekiro players.
6) Emma, the Gentle Blade
Though the battle with Emma is a short one, requiring only a single death blow, it still stands out in the mire of Sekiro boss fights for a few clear reasons. First of all, Emma is only the third woman you do battle with within the game. Second, she doesn’t fight you with malice but with the sort of resigned disappointment of someone who expected better from you. Finally, her delicate battle style and graceful movement bely a deadly warrior hiding in the cloak of a physician. A truly jarring and morally challenging fight, Emma will leave the Shura Wolf wondering what he has done after defeating her.
5) Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa
While Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa might not be the first boss you will face in the game, he will certainly be the first you’ll defeat. As such, Gyoubu is the first actual test of the player’s mettle, making him very memorable. A hulking samurai warrior sat astride an armored warhorse; Gyoubu’s speed and reach make him seem insurmountable until players notice the small telltale grapple sign each time he wheels his horse around. A thrilling battle, Gyoubu will push players to the edge before they can achieve victory over him.
4) Guardian Ape
The Guardian Ape is one of the most enormous and most intimidating enemies in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Players will encounter him sitting peacefully at a pool of water, but once he takes notice of you, look out. He’s big, he’s fast, and he hits like a truck. He’s also not afraid to get dirty to win. However, the best part of this fight doesn’t come until the moment you think you’ve won. After decapitating the Guardian Ape, he returns from the dead, swinging a massive katana and his own disembodied head at you as his new weapons. Shocking, visceral, and brutal, the Guardian Ape is one of the most memorable encounters in the game.
3) Genichiro Ashina
Being the man who struck you down in the opening chapter of Sekiro, Genichiro Ashina is a foe players will be eagerly looking forward to facing again. However, when you finally do reach him, you might begin to re-think that sentiment. A fierce three-stage battle, the showdown with Genichiro will push players to their limit at this stage in the game. The first two stages are a straightforward, if severe, duel with a warrior in his absolute prime, while the third will bring on the Lightning of Tomoe, a daring attack that can spell instant defeat. Equipped with a bevy of long and close-range attacks, Genichiro is a man we must begrudgingly respect, even as we seek to dispatch him.
2) Demon of Hatred
Another secret boss, the Demon of Hatred, isn’t just a stellar creature with a superb design; he’s also the secret to a major part of Sekiro lore. When the Sculptor disappears later in the game, players are left to speculate on what has happened to him… that is until they find this massive Shura roaming the fiery refuse of a smoldering battlefield. A towering demon with three health bars, the Demon of Hatred is less a boss than a full-on dominating force of nature. His vast arsenal of attacks, which increase in size and scope as the battle advances, are all capable of doing massive damage, if not taking the player down outright. A boss who requires patience and perseverance, the Demon of Hatred would be the most rewarding battle in the game were it not for the final boss.
1) Isshin, the Sword Saint
Isshin, the Sword Saint, is the final test of everything you’ve learned over the course of Sekiro. The battle with the man who started a bloody revolution and took power over the land is a fight for the ages. Players will have to master the block, dodge, parry, deflect, and mikiri counter maneuvers to even have a sniff at taking down the Sword Saint. In a grueling three-stage fight, Isshin begins with a katana before unleashing a spear and pistol, and finally, the lightning of Tomoe. As embers bristle between you and Isshin, and a massive storm grows and roars in the background, Isshin advances mercilessly on the player. His thrill at returning from the grave for one last legendary battle comes out in his fierce battle cries, and if you mess up for even a split second, you can bet he will capitalize on your failings. A wildly challenging fight, the final encounter of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will take absolutely everything you’ve got to come out on top.