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Sekiro boss guide: Isshin, the Sword Saint (Phase 3)

Getting one more Deathblow to finish the final fight.

Sekiro Isshin, the Sword Saint (Phase 3) boss fight FromSoftware/Activision via Polygon

It’s time for the third and final phase of Sekiro’s Isshin, the Sword Saint boss fight. Luckily, it’s not a huge change from Phase 2. Unluckily, he throws lightning now.

You’ve already been through two phases of this fight (three, if you include Genichiro), but there’s still a lot of fight to go. In this guide, we’ll show you how to defeat Isshin.

The best Prosthetic Tools and items Isshin, the Sword Saint

There are always items and attacks that work well against Sekiro bosses. These are our recommendations for the best items to bring to your fight with Isshin, the Sword Saint.

  • Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella. We’re recommending this Prosthetic again since Isshin’s spear attacks still have a long reach, and his wind-based attacks are extra deadly. Instead of interrupting them, use the Loaded Umbrella to ride them out.

You’re not going to have a lot of time (or room) to use items in this phase of the fight. If you really want to use one, go for some Eel Liver for the Shock defense — but if you follow our advice below, you shouldn’t need it.

Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 3

General strategies

Once again, your goal is to drive up his Posture rather than deal much Vitality damage. Sure, Isshin mixes in some lightning and a new wind attack, but you’ve seen the majority of this fight before. And that means that you’re going to spend most of this fight doing the things you’ve already doing — dodging and Mikiri Countering as much as you can.

The trick in this phase of the fight is to use Isshin’s new attacks against him as well — specifically by using Lightning Reversals. It’s possible to dodge or avoid these shocking attacks, but using them to deal Posture damage will cut the length of this fight dramatically.

Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks

Let’s talk about Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks, how to identify them, and what you should do about them.

Perilous Attack 1: Lightning sweep

For Isshin’s two lightning attacks, he’ll lean back — you’ll see the light hit his crown — and leap into the air. The red kanji will appear over Wolf’s head, then Isshin will follow up with a lightning-charged attack. It’s hard to spot in the middle of the battle, but if he’s holding his spear across his body — to his right, your left — he’ll sweep it in a huge lateral arc. If you’re sprinting away, you can avoid it. It’s possible to dodge through it, but the timing is very difficult.

Isshin’s two lightning attacks are your chance to perform a Lightning Reversal. We’ll discuss that in more detail below in the Sekiro’s attacks section.

Perilous Attack 2: Lightning overhand

Similar to his sweep attack above, Isshin will leap into the air to start this attack. He’ll be holding his spear above his head and behind his back. He’ll bring it down in a dramatic overhand swing. It’s possible to dodge this attack by running under Isshin (and to one side for safety).

Isshin’s two lightning attacks are your chance to perform a Lightning Reversal. We’ll discuss that in more detail below in the Sekiro’s attacks section.

Wind spiral

This wind spiral is the same as the attack in Phase 2, and we’re including it here because it’s such a damaging attack. Once again, we recommend just riding it out with the Loaded Umbrella since it has such a long reach (something we managed to not do in the video above).

Wind slashes

Isshin’s new wind-based attack starts the same way as his spiral attack above. There’s very subtle difference in how he holds his spear, though. For the spiral attack, the spear will be tilted at about a 45 degree angle. For this slashing attack, the spear will be far closer to horizontal.

After gathering in the wind, Isshin will unleash a pair of slashes that cover a ton of ground. You can use the Loaded Umbrella to block them, or run (or dodge) sideways to get out of the way.

Sekiro’s attacks

Most of this fight is about responding to Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks, but we should also point out what to do when you’re on offense.

Lightning Reversals

Mikiri Counters are great, but the real secret to this phase is Lightning Reversals. Landing a Lightning Reversal will shock Isshin and make him freeze for a moment, but more importantly, it’ll fill a chunk of his Posture gauge. You’ve only had a chance to use these a couple of times before, so you might not have a ton of practice with them. Yes, practicing against the final boss is going to get you killed (and you have a long fight to get back to this phase), but that practice will pay off.

First, practice the timing. Jump into the air at about the same point you’d start a Deflect — just as he begins his swing. If you jump earlier, you run the risk of hitting the ground before you get a chance to reverse the lightning.

The second part of a Lightning Reversal requires less practice — mashing the absolute hell out of the attack button. Once you get hit by Isshin’s lightning, you have to get rid of it as soon as you can. In our experience, this is inexplicably trickier than it should be. Don’t lose heart, just keep at it.

We’ve included a successful Lightning Reversal above, slowed down a lot so you can see each step of the process. The biggest thing to note is how uncomfortably late in the process the jump starts. (You can also see we started swinging to reverse it before we even got hit with the lightning — it worked for us, but only because we were mashing like crazy.)

Our advice in practice

Once again, we’ve included a video of our entire Phase 3 fight. There are a couple of (big) mistakes, but we were still successful. You can see us pull off two (out of three) Lightning Reversals, along with a Mikiri Counter, and a few really satisfying Deflects.

Just be careful of pressing the attack toward the end. Isshin’s attacks are deadly, and dropping your guard to attack relentlessly is a mistake (you can see at the end of the video above that we took a big hit before finishing).

Isshin, the Sword Saint drops, items, and rewards

Defeat Isshin, the Sword Saint, and you’ll receive the Memory: Saint Isshin and the Dragon Flash skill.

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