- The boss battles in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offer a unique blend of difficulty and satisfaction that keeps players engaged.
- The True Corrupted Monk boss fight in Fountainhead Palace is challenging, but feels easier compared to the earlier spectral battle, leading to a different type of satisfaction.
- Lady Butterfly in Hirata Estate is a tough boss that requires players to learn her patterns and use Shurikens to knock her out of the sky, resulting in a highly satisfying fight.
From Software is notoriously known for creating stellar gameplay experiences, all with the common thread being constantly high-octane boss fighters that will test a player’s skill, wit, patience, luck, and determination. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice absolutely does this as well but in a completely different way thanks to the Deflect system it introduces.
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And, among all the bosses this game offers, these are the ones that truly stand out as the best blend of difficulty and satisfaction. These are the type of bosses that players cannot help but keep bashing their heads against, even though they told themselves they’d stop hours ago. So, let’s highlight the best of the best bosses from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Updated January 9th, 2024 by Jacob Buchalter: There’s such a long list of incredible From Software boss fights in all their different worlds at this point in time. From a classic like Gwyn in Dark Souls to something more recent such as ALLMIND in Armored Core 6, every game has its fair share of iconic battles. However, Sekiro: Shadow Die Twice is something special with its boss fights. It’s not as simple as they’re ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than other From Software boss battles, but they’re satisfying in a whole different way due to the actual rhythm of the battles. With that in mind, let’s go over some specific examples in this game of bosses or even mini-bosses that are truly satisfying to beat.
20 True Corrupted Monk
Boss: Fountainhead Palace
It’s funny to have the ‘real’ version of a boss be below the ‘spectral’ version in terms of satisfaction, but there’s a reason for this. At the point in the game where players first encounter Corrupted Monk, they’ve probably got the combat system of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice down, at least to a pretty reliable degree. However, the Corrupted Monk is going to ask even more of them, and will even ask them to rely on consumables to get through the battle.
The True Corrupted Monk in Fountainhead Palace is arguably a harder fight in terms of pure mechanics. But, at this point in the game, Wolf has sort of ‘outscaled’ the True Corrupted Monk (at least on average) and the battle feels a bit easier than the spectral battle in Mibu Village in exchange. Plus, this is sort of the same boss over again (albeit with a good number of new moves) so it’ll never have that same satisfaction as the first time.
19 Divine Dragon
Boss: Fountainhead Palace
The Divine Dragon, as a battle, really isn’t all that satisfying. It’s beautiful visually, sure, and it does require some real skill on the player’s end to get through it. However, the real satisfaction of the Divine Dragon boss fight comes from everything leading up to it. Throughout the entire game, players keep hearing about how Kuro has the regenerative & restorative abilities of the Dragon’s Divine Heir, and players can see that’s true from the fact Wolf never fully ‘stays dead’ after being granted a portion of this power.
However, seeing the actual ‘source’ of this power AKA the Divine Dragon, besting it in combat, and taking those Dragon Tears from it as a prize makes it feel like the journey up to this point has truly been ‘worth it’.
18 Shinobi Hunter: Enshin Of Misen
Mini-Boss: Hirata Estate
The Shinobi Hunter ‘mini-boss’ is probably Sekiro’s best example of an enemy that starts at the level of a boss or mini-boss, but afterward very quickly becomes nothing more than an elite mob at best. When players first encounter the Shinobi Hunter in the Hirata Estate, they’ll likely die to him very quickly and be stunned that a ‘basic mob’ just took them out like that.
Then, after returning to him, they’ll still probably die at least a couple more times. It’s true, as those who never ended up relying on the Mikiri Counter end up spending a lot of time struggling with the Shinobi Hunter, and it’s one of the first big roadblocks of the game as a result. But, once players figure out how the Mikiri Counter works, the Shinobi Hunter is a breeze.
17 Okami Leader Shizu
Mini-Boss: Fountainhead Palace
This next ‘boss’ is on here for a very specific reason. When players reach Fountainhead Palace, get past the True Corrupted Monk, and end up in the area just past the Sakura Bull of the Palace, they’ll see an illustrious palace, a large lake (with the Great Coloured Carp inside), and a whole lot of area explore.
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But, they’ll quickly find out it’s painful to explore this area, as the Okami Leader Shizu up in the trees above, all the way on the other side of the lake, is constantly barraging Wolf with these Kemari Balls infused with Lightning. They’re not exactly difficult to dodge, but if he stands still at all they’ll knock the wind out of him and it makes getting around this area of the Palace an absolute chore. So, when players finally go around to the back of this area and come around to the large Sakura branch Shizu is sitting on, the payback feels amazing. Funnily enough, for all the lead-up to this fight, Shizu falls incredibly easily.
16 Juzou The Drunkard
Mini-Boss: Hirata Estate
Starting things off with the large and powerful Juzou the Drunkard. This guy is definitely a force to be reckoned with that players can’t just ‘charge at’ on sight and power through it. He’s first encountered at the Hirada Estate and has a number of fellow enemies surrounding his area that can (thankfully) be stealthily taken out. This will not only clear the area for the battle but also allow for a stealthy Deathblow to completely skip the first part of Juzou’s fight
At this point in the game, new players tend to get overwhelmed by Juzou, which is why he’s on here. Additionally, that’s also why Tokujiro the Glutton isn’t on here, because by that point in the game, players are much more skilled at the combat system overall.
15 The Blazing Bull
Mini-Boss: Ashina Castle
While there were a number of soldiers and difficult enemies faced by the point players first reached the gates of Ashina Castle, those were just basic enemies. No new Sekiro player could’ve been prepared for the arrival of the Blazing Bull. The name pretty much describes it all, it’s a massive bull with a flaming tinder strapped to its horns to keep it in a rage and flailing around as much as possible.
Because it’s unpredictable, the battle can be incredibly frustrating and difficult this early in the game. However, once his patterns and timing are engrained in the player, they’ll end up feeling like a veteran Matador putting on a show. And, funnily enough, this isn’t the last time players will encounter a Bull-based boss or even an animal-type boss fight (AKA the Folding Screen Monkeys).
14 Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa
Boss: Ashina Outskirts
Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa, a name that the character itself makes sure that no one forgets, is the first ‘real’ boss fight for a lot of Sekiro players. He isn’t necessarily the hardest on this list, not by a long shot, but he isn’t a pushover either.
This boss fight is fun, understandably challenging, and best of all an overall spectacle reminiscent of some of the horseback battles in Elden Ring. He’s encountered pretty early on so players who manage to defeat him end up feeling like they’ve finally started to master the whole ‘Deflect system’.
13 Armored Warrior
Mini-Boss: Senpou Temple
Ignoring all the ‘Roberrrrrt’ jokes related to this boss that make him memorable, the Armored Warrior is also memorable as an incredibly unique fight in Sekiro with a tragic backstory that actually makes the player feel like they’re the villain. But, as far as his boss battle goes, it’s not that bad once players figure out the gimmick, its just that adjusting to that gimmick takes a bit of time.
Basically, the Armored Warrior comes from across the ocean and has brought his full suit of plate armor with him, which Wolf’s sword cannot get through. Because of this, the Armored Warrior is an immortal damage sponge that won’t take any health damage and his armor can’t be removed, so instead players must trick him into moving near the edge of the bridge, break his posture, and then use the Deathblow to push him off. Again, this fight is difficult simply because it goes against everything players have learned about the combat system up to this point.
12 Lady Butterfly
Boss: Hirata Estate
If Gyoubu Oniwa is the first ‘barrier’ in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, then Lady Butterfly is the first ‘wall’. She’s here to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Figuring out her patterns, avoiding her illusions, and stumbling upon the fact that Wolf can knock her out of the sky with Shurikens all combine to make this one of the most satisfying fights in the game, by far.
Quite frankly, on repeat playthroughs Lady Butterfly will feel like she’s much easier than she was the first time around, and this is simply because at this point in a player’s first run, Lady Butterfly feels insurmountable, but this level of expertise is steadily asked of the player more and more over the rest of the game’s encounters.
11 Ashina Elite – Jinsuke Saze
Mini-Boss: Ashina Castle
Jinsuke Saze, otherwise known as the Ashina Elite, is a mini-boss found in the Dojo of Ashina Castle and must be fought before Ashina Castle is attacked by the Ministry or the fight is missed entirely. When fought, Jinsuke’s battle is basically a reaction speed test, as Jinsuke relies primarily on his lightning-fast Ashina Slice to deal staggering amounts of Posture damage to Wolf. The fight basically boils down to waiting for Jinsuke to sheath his sword, looking for the glint of the blade as he begins to draw it, then dodging or deflecting his slice that comes out a couple of frames later.
But, players must also be ready to deflect again as Jinsuke mixes some multi-hits in there after the first slice, forcing players to stay absolutely focused at all times.
10 Shichimen Warrior
Mini-Boss: Multiple Locations (Abandoned Dungeon, Ashina Depths, Fountainhead Palace)
All of the Headless battles in Sekiro are truly terrifying. As an enemy type, these Headless are so incredibly offputting and ‘otherworldly’, with the Shichimen Warrior being the best example. This is a fight that truly takes advantage of the ‘Terror’ status effect, which constantly puts pressure on the player to end the battle quickly as if the Divine Confetti duration timer wasn’t enough.
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When fighting the Shicimen Warriors (of which there are 3 to be found), players need to stay on the offensive. The longer the fight takes, the more of a disadvantage they have. The only time to stop the aggression should be when the Warrior hops backward and turns invisible as he’ll quickly reappear somewhere else in the arena before firing off a deadly beam of purple Terror-inducing energy. But, as long as players are able to deflect this beam (one deflect is all it takes), the fight isn’t all that awful.
9 Corrupted Monk
Boss: Ashina Depths
The ghostly Corrupted Monk that is first encountered in Ashina Depths may only be a mere projection of the more powerful ‘True’ Corrupted Monk that’s found in Fountainhead Palace, but in some ways, the ghost surpasses the original, especially at the average level of skill players who encounter this boss are at.
Corrupted Monk just feels like it has an answer for everything that the player throws at it for this point in the game, save for a fist full of ash, apparently. Meanwhile, the player is much more experienced and confident by the time they fight the True Corrupted Monk, and that fight also has Deathblows to act as ‘checkpoints’ while the Corrupted Monk is a battle of attrition.
8 O’Rin Of The Water
Mini-Boss: Mibu Village
O’Rin of the Water is considered a ‘mini-boss’ and is located in the Mibu graveyard, waiting to question and subsequently attack players who pass by. Right away after combat starts, players should notice that this fight is different. The way O’Rin fights is so much more fluid than other bosses, and almost feels like a dance that she and Wolf are performing.
All that said, it’s also almost impossible to find time to heal fighting her, which can make things tough. More than most other bosses in the game, O’Rin is a battle that becomes infinitely easier once players fully comprehend her range of attacks.
7 Genichiro Ashina
Boss: Ashina Castle & Ashina Reservoir
Okay so let’s just be honest, Sekiro is made up of a lot of different bosses that can be described as ‘walls’. Whether it’s Gyobu Oniwa, Lady Butterfly, or even the Guardian Ape. But, story-wise, Genichiro Ashina is actually a wall Wolf must surmount, both for the sake of Kuro the Divine Heir and as revenge for his lost arm.
In terms of combat, yeah, Genichiro is a bit of a wall, and rightfully so. This is a guy who’s done everything that he possibly can for the sake of his aspirations, just like Wolf has. That said, Genichiro is similar to Lady Butterfly in the way that, once players really figure out his patterns, the fights against him later in the story (depending on the ending) are so much easier.
6 ‘Inner’ Genichiro
Boss: Memory – Genichiro
Quite frankly, all of the Inner Versions of bosses found in the Gauntlet of Strength challenge should be on this list. But, Genichiro has earned a spot most of all because of how much this slight change in how he reacts to Wolf’s actions (or the actions of whoever he’s ‘Form Changed as) changes the difficulty of his encounter. While the original Genichiro was already tough enough, this version of him is able to stop mid-combo to follow an escaping Wolf, dash during a combo to bridge any distance, and is just more aggressive overall.
There’s not much more to say, this version of Genichiro, to some, is even harder than the Inner Version of Isshin Ashina, so in a way he truly has surpassed his grandfather.
5 Emma The Gentle Blade & Isshin Ashina
Bosses: Ashina Castle
Luckily, only players going down the path of Shura have to fight against Emma, as this NPC is too kind to have to fight against her in every ending. That being said, she’s also one of the toughest boss fights in the game, which may surprise some, given her gentle nature, but that’s what makes it so cool. In terms of combat, this is a fight where players will do much better reacting to her attacks than they likely will going on the offensive themselves. Emma seems to be using a blend of the Ashina Sword Arts and her own sword skills, and the result is a fighting style with a lot of multi-hit attacks, which is where the player’s deflect skills will be truly tested.
Though it might take a bit of time, patience, and luck it’s still very possible to beat Emma. The only problem is that once she’s beaten, another battle begins against Isshin Ashina, though he’s nearing the end of his life. Because of this, his battle is nowhere near as difficult as the battle against the Sword Saint version of him. A lot of the tactics against Emma also work against him, so players who stay on their toes and are ready to react to any attacks will find themselves pretty well set for this encounter.
4 The Guardian Ape
Boss: Sunken Valley Passage
For some, the Guardian Ape is by far the most frustrating and aggravating boss in the game. But, for a majority of players, this is their favorite encounter overall. As a giant monkey would be, the Guardian Ape is ferocious and truly unpredictable. Players don’t know at any point whether the ape will throw a temper tantrum on the ground or literally throw feces at them. Because of this, it can be very difficult to ‘learn’ its patterns, especially when it keeps up the pressure constantly.
Then, once they do defeat it and feel that wave of adrenaline wash over them, it’s time for the real surprise. The second ‘phase’ of the Guardian Ape fight is the exact opposite of the first phase, as this lifeless ape is much more fluid and predictable in its actions. But, the very act of suddenly becoming more predictable is unpredictable as well, which is why players also struggle in the second phase quite a bit.
3 Owl (Father)
Boss: Ashina Castle
Technically speaking, depending on the path a player goes down during their playthrough, they’ll encounter Owl twice. Once in the Hirata Estate where he fakes his own death to throw off any suspicion of him being the mastermind behind this attack, and the second time on top of Ashina Castle as Wolf finally stands up to him to protect Kuro.
That said, it takes a lot to beat Owl, as he’s the greatest Shinobi alive and has a whole host of tricks, misdirections, and advanced tactics that’ll throw most players for a loop. This includes using Shinboi charms to prevent using items, throwing firecrackers, and even using Wolf’s own Mikiri Counter against him.
2 The Demon Of Hatred
Boss: Ashina Outskirts
This boss fight is just as heart-wrenching as it is blood-boiling. Having to fight The Sculptor, Wolf’s longtime friend who made his arm and has helped him since the start of the game…is just tough. And, as a boss, the Demon of Hatred might be the most overwhelming. This guy does not stop with the relentless attacks and all of them could blow away buildings
This fight is absolutely doable with just Wolf’s sword and a lot of determination, but most players found that bringing Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella into the fight made it so much easier to survive some of his wide-reaching explosive attacks.
1 Isshin: The Sword Saint
Boss: Ashina Reservoir
The Sword Saint Isshin is, by design, meant to be the hardest fight in the game, and rightfully so. This is the man who built up the Ashina into one of the most respected families in the country. Not only that but the Black Mortal Blade that Genichiro has is one with the ability to open the Gate to the Underworld, which is how Genichiro seemingly ‘summons’ Isshin at his prime from inside his body by slicing his neck open. He basically used his life as a sacrifice and bound his grandfather to his final wish of bringing glory to the Ashina.
Now, as a boss fight, this is another one where players are expected to fight two powerful bosses, back to back. One is the weakened and maddened Genichiro, who is running on fumes from drinking the Rejuvenating Sediment to stay alive, and the other is Isshin at the absolute pinnacle of his strength. If Wolf dies to either of these warriors, he’ll have to fight them both again. It’s truly one of the best and, of course, most mind-blowingly difficult bosses From Software has ever designed.