Ranking Sekiro Bosses By Difficulty. Or is it Frustration?
I’ve been playing a lot of Sekiro lately. I’ve beaten Isshin, the Sword Saint, which I spoke about here as being suffering incarnate, and have since covered every other ending. In fact, I have the Platinum trophy, and it will never be soon enough to chase those damn Folding Screen Monkeys again.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it and here are my rankings, from easiest to hardest, of each Sekiro boss. Spoilers ahead!
A gorgeous fight, but an incredibly easy one. This battle exists to drive a core part of the story forward, I feel, rather than to be a challenging battle, and I’ve only listed it at the bottom due to how straight-forward and easy it is. I feel awful every time I have to gather the Divine Dragon’s tears, though…
Folding Screen Monkeys
Again, another very easy one, but the inclusion of monkeys who can quickly inflict terror, and having to chase each of the four monkeys down, just pips this one above the Divine Dragon. Again, another boss battle I don’t feel particularly happy about winning…
The first Corrupted Monk battle is a tough one at first, but once you know you can outrun most of their attacks and then take advantage of their openings, it’s much easier to deal with in future! They’re little more than a minor nuisance on replays now, but they really did put up a good fight my first go around.
Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa
MY NAME IS GYOUBU MASATAKA ONIWA! I heard this a good number of times on my first playthrough, and although he still has a degree of difficulty to him in subsequent playthroughs, he’s just a case of deflect and hit. He’s pretty much the big tutorial boss, and he serves his purpose well. I feel pretty bad for him and his horse, though.
Many might say that this fight is harder than the Guardian Ape, but the first form (before it loses its head) is far harder to me than its second form, and its partner goes down very easily — in fact, if you beat Headless Ape first, its partner gives up the fight entirely. With a few Firecrackers and not much damage to do though, your best off taking it out first anyway.
The Guardian Ape is one of my favourite bosses, in terms of its challenge and how awe-inspiring it is. When it gets back up after you think you’ve defeated it? Such a great moment in Sekiro, and of course, it proceeded to utterly decimate me with its newly found katana and second wind. The music for this one is really eerie to me, just to point that out!
Another one who is super difficult the first time around, but gets much easier on repeated playthroughs! Lady Butterfly is the first real wall of Sekiro, and one that’ll be less or more difficult depending on when you encounter her, but for many she may make or break the game for you. Dang is it satisfying when you finally take her down though!
Although he remains difficult, Genichiro is another boss who can be wailed upon and pressured enough that he can do very little to you, but you aren’t going to take those chances when you first meet him, which is when he’ll make you wallow in misery as he enters his lightning phase! This one still catches me out, mind you.
Great Shinobi Owl
A boss I initially hated, but is now one of my favourites. Seeing a boss utilise many of the same mechanics that you do is exciting, and it’s a better paced battle than Owl (Father), in my opinion. At first it was frustrating, but now I really appreciate how different this boss is to the others, and how impactful it is story-wise.
True Corrupted Monk
Out of all of the bosses on this list, this is by far my least favourite. It’s long, the bosses animations are drawn out (especially in the second phase), and it’s on a narrow bridge. The boss itself has three phases, and whilst none of them are particularly hard, it’s easy to be caught out by its many perilous attacks, its quick Terror (instant death) build-up in phase three, and have to redo it all again from phase one.
Harder than the first time you fight him, but not quite as enjoyable, Owl within the Hirata Estate memory is a difficult battle! A lot of this comes down to how large his range is, and how speedy he is. His second phase with his spirit bird is quite easy once you get the hang of his new mechanics, and if anything I felt he was more manageable here.
Emma, the Gentle Blade & Isshin Ashina
This one is pretty rough, and I debated between this boss and the one above it for a long time, but overall I think the second phase of this is just generally more difficult. Isshin is a bit of a bastard in any fight, and this isn’t no exception. I really like Emma so I appreciate the emotional beats of this fight, and she fights beautifully, putting up a good fight even if she isn’t generally as willing to fight as other characters in Sekiro.
Isshin, the Sword Saint
Ooooh, YOU! I don’t find Isshin, the Sword Saint as hard now as I used to, and the last time I fought him I beat him with only needing one revive. I find this boss to be a bit longer than necessary — thanks, Genichiro… — but it’s a sight to behold, and one that really keeps you on your feet. This boss gives me the big sweaty palms.
Demon of Hatred
I think this boss is great from a lore perspective, given that it’s the Sculptor, and this is something that’s hinted at very early on when you ask him about what he saw at the Buddha statue. As many others have said, this boss feels like it should have been in Bloodborne, and it doesn’t mesh with Sekiro’s mechanics very well, but you can trick it into walking off the map entirely so… yeah! Take THAT, angry man.
The lesson learned here? Mortal Blow gets the job done, on pretty much any late-game boss.