You’re supposed to lose your first major battle in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The game’s story depends on it.
But this is FromSoftware we’re talking about; they’re not about to cheat to force you to lose, at least not mechanically. That first battle against Genichiro Ashina is technically winnable, although it requires nearly preternatural swordplay to do so. You can see for yourself in the video above.
This is something of a FromSoftware tradition: The first boss battle of Demon’s Souls is designed to kill you, but it can be defeated. Bloodborne’s first encounter is likewise designed to take you out.
So what happens if you’re able to win the fight? Do the credits roll immediately, rewarding you for doing something that should be next to impossible? Are you forced to play the rest of the game without the prosthetic hand, which would mean you would have to give up once you hit the first area that requires the grappling hook? Is it something amazing?!
Sadly, no. While it’s interesting that FromSoftware doesn’t force you to lose the battle due to your own inability to fight well, they still want the rest of the game to continue on its own path regardless of your abilities when it comes to this battle. You can watch the video at the top of this post to see what happens next, but a flying blade comes out of nowhere to distract you, and the boss gets up to cut off your arm anyway.
From then on it seems as though the game goes on without any other changes, but at least you have the satisfaction of knowing you weren’t bested in what should have been a near-instant loss.