Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a punishing game, though that’s something you’d expect from the developer of the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne. But it’s also much more approachable than many of previous games developed by FromSoftware, and that comes down to the ability to cancel your moves once the animation has begun.
That’s something that wasn’t possible in most of the previous games — Dark Souls 2 used to allow animation canceling, but it was mostly patched out — and it makes a world of difference.
This is how it works: If you begin an attack in Dark Souls 3, and you miss, you have to wait until the entirety of the animation plays out before you can dodge or block the enemy’s next attack. This means that you’re often stuck watching an animation finish while getting pummeled. It’s a frustrating place to be.
But Sekiro allows you to cancel the attack if you know that it’s going to miss or be blocked, even though you only have a few frames in which to do so. You still have to be precise in your movements and attacks, but you do have a chance to change your mind about your next move if you think quickly. That’s a big shift from what we’re used to in FromSoftware’s games.
Here’s a standard attack in Sekiro:
And this is what it looks like when you cancel the attack to move into a block:
And here’s a cancel into a dash:
This margin of error goes a long way toward making it feel like you’re more in control of what your character is doing, and it keeps you from being helpless when an attack doesn’t go the way you expected.
There are limits, however: During our testing, it didn’t seem like you can cancel your move once a combo has begun. This looks like an option that’s only available to you during the first move of each combo.
But if you’ve been wondering why Sekiro feels a bit more welcoming than FromSoftware’s back catalog of games, it’s very likely you were noticing the ability to cancel your moves, even if you didn’t know exactly what was going on.