Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a compellingly difficult action game that doubles as a kind of spin-off for the Dark Souls and Bloodborne titles. Sekiro is also a From Software game, which means its captivating art direction might've come at the cost of its performance. How does it fare? Not bad, but not as well as it ought to on advanced consoles.
As usual, Digital Foundry is on the job. It has a detailed breakdown of everything under Sekiro's hood, and the verdict should ultimately feel familiar for established fans of From Software's games.
On one hand, Sekiro's image quality is very good. "[W]hen you first load up Sekiro, there are plenty of visual similarities to Dark Souls 3 engine-wise but a lot of changes and improvements as well. This is most evident when it comes to image quality," writes Digital Foundry's John Linneman. "Bloodborne's off-putting chromatic aberration effect is gone, while its noisy anti-aliasing is far more refined. All four platforms produce a strikingly clean and smooth image, distant detail resolves nicely, and everything feels very stable."
Unfortunately, Sekiro's "uncapped" frame rates on the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro are a disappointment. "[D]espite all the media leading up to release showcasing the game running at 60fps, I can assure you that this is not the case on consoles," writes Linneman. "It's very much an unstable frame-rate usually in the upper 30s to upper 40s[.]"
Linneman also says "eyebrows will raise" when comparing the frame rates between the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro. "Neither comes close to 60fps, but you can clearly see that Sony's machine has taken the lead here."
All's not lost for Xbox One X owners, though. Interestingly, Linneman discovered Sekiro "benefits greatly" from the Xbox One X's support for 120Hz displays. "[W]hen connected to a 120Hz screen, frames are presented at 16.7ms, 33.3ms—or at 25ms, a new mid-point made possible by doubling the refresh rate," he writes.
Ultimately, there's no clear winner here. "Basically—when playing on a standard 60Hz display, the PS4 Pro version looks smoother due to the higher average frame-rate," Linneman writes, 'but if you can utilise 120Hz support on Xbox One, it appears visually smoother on that platform despite the lower frame-rate."
As for the base PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, you can seemingly expect a level of performance similar to Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3. In other words, not amazing. "I'm borderline speechless here: community complaints here have persisted for years now—since the launch of Bloodborne - but nothing has changed," Linneman writes. "It just does not work as it should and the result is constant, noticeable judder and stutter."
Linneman Sekiro's general performance does have one advantage over Dark Souls and Bloodborne: Its load times are swift, which is important in a game where you die, die, and die some more.
We're enjoying Sekiro in spite of its performance jank, so read our in-progress review for more info.