During the prologue of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Wolf will obtain Kusabimaru, his trusted samurai sword. This will be your primary weapon as you explore the game world.
The following is a guide to help you attack and defend yourself from the hordes of enemies you'll encounter on your quest.
Remember: When engaging in combat, your first action should almost always be to lock on to your enemy.
The standard Attack is the most basic way to for a Shinobi to engage an opponent. Landing attacks, whether they're blocked or not, will increase an opponent's Posture meter. If they do not block, then the attack will inflict both Posture and Vitality damage.
Locking on to an enemy is crucial for attacking, defending yourself, or performing other combat actions. To Lock On to an enemy, face your target and then press the right thumbstick to Lock On. You can release an enemy by facing him and pressing the right thumbstick, or you can change the locked on enemy by pressing the right thumbstick in the direction of the enemy you'd like to target.
Deflection and Posture
When facing an enemy, your goal is to break his Posture, or his fighting stance. The main ways to break an enemy's Posture are to attack him and deflect his attacks by pressing the guard button the moment before a blow lands. In some cases, you may need to deflect multiple attacks in a row before you can land a counterattack. If your enemy's Posture is broken, he will momentarily become exposed to a Deathblow.
Postures are indicated by a bar above the enemy or below your character. The coloration of the bar expands as Posture gets closer to breaking.
An enemy's Vitality is tied to how fast his Posture recovers – the lower the Vitality, the slower the Posture recovery. Some enemies have very fast Posture recovery. In these cases, the optimal way to defeat them is to first focus on reducing their Vitality then focus on breaking their Posture.
Deflecting not only keeps you from being harmed by an attack, it also damages your enemy's Posture and can create an opportunity to perform a counter attack on the enemy. After you successfully Deflect an incoming enemy attack, quickly attack to execute a Counter-slash. A master Shinobi will use a combination of attacks, deflections, and counter-slashes to damage Posture and quickly dispatch enemies.
The Wolf's finishing moves are called Shinobi Deathblows. The opportunity to deliver a Deathblow can be achieved by continuously attacking an enemy to break his Posture or by deflecting an incoming attack that causes the enemy to stagger. You will know a Deathblow is available when you see a red marker on your opponent's body.
Press the Attack button near a Posture-broken or unaware enemy to unleash a Deathblow. Deathblows can only be performed for a limited window, so attack quickly.
Some more powerful enemies require multiple Deathblows to be defeated. The number of Deathblows required to kill an enemy is indicated by red markers above the enemy's Vitality bar.
Just as it is with your enemies, you also have Posture that you need to maintain and defend. Enemy attacks that land can leave you vulnerable to more attacks. If your Posture is broken or you find yourself downed by an enemy, quickly press the jump or Step Dodge buttons to perform a Safety Roll, which allows you to get on your feet and minimize your vulnerability.
Safety Roll can be especially useful when you're low on Vitality or facing multiple enemies.
Combat Arts are greater attack moves your Shinobi can use to augment his combos. Combat Arts must be equipped in order to use them, and some will cost Spirit Emblems with each use. Combat Arts include powerful, acrobatic sword attacks and swift, relentless sword attacks.
As you progress and gain experience through gameplay, you'll have the option to apply Skills to your Shinobi through one of three Skill Trees: Shinobi Arts, Ashina Arts, and Prosthetic Arts.
Once acquired, these Latent Skills are always present and don't require activation to use. Skills include reduced visual or audible detection while in stealth, Vitality or Posture recovery, increased healing effects from recovery items, and improved item drop rates from defeated enemies.
Ninjutsu are elaborate, higher-cost combat techniques that are available in exchange for Spirit Emblems after performing a Backstab Deathblow. These tend to be powerful initiation tools, for example one allows you turn your enemy's spraying blood into a smokescreen.