Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – How To Beat Every Boss | Mini-Bosses & Bosses Tips Guide

There are two types of bosses in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. There are major bosses, and mini-bosses. Mini-bosses are often completely optional. Both boss types are special, named enemies that are much harder challenges than standard enemies. Defeating them will drop useful items like Prayer Beads or Memories which will increase your health or attack damage respectively.

Bosses are the main enemies you’ll have to defeat to progress in the game. Some bosses will lock you into an arena, while others allow you to retreat at any given time. All bosses have two ‘Deathblow’ health bars. You’ll need to hit them with two Deathblows to defeat them. This is standard, but some bosses can be defeated with a single deathblow — or can’t be defeated with a deathblow at all.

  • NOTE ON DEATHBLOWS: Many bosses can be attacked from stealth, allowing you to initiate a stealth Deathblow and cut down their health by 50%. You can only do this once. If you retreat and attempt to hide, the boss will fully recover. Initiate the battle after your stealth deathblow and finish the boss in combat.

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Boss: Isshin, Sword Saint

  • Optional?: No
  • Stealthblow?: No
  • Location: Ashina Castle, Secret Passage
  • Loot: Memory: Isshin Ashina, Dragon Slash Technique

Isshin might be the hardest boss in the entire Soulsborne series. This incredibly difficult opponent doesn’t mess around — you’ll have to fight four grueling battles and memorize his attacks. Before fighting him, I recommend defeating any bosses you might’ve missed and unlocking the Dragon’s Dancer Mask. You’ll want to increase your maximum strength as much as possible.

  • NOTE: Before Isshin appears, you’ll have to fight Genichiro one last time. He fights exactly as before, except he has gained a new Mortal Blade strike to replace his lightning attacks. When he’s about to unleash his Mortal Blade sweep, dodge forward-right to get behind him. His posture can be broken easily with jump-counters and Mikiri Counters.

Phase 1: Isshin attacks with a katana. His most dangerous attacks are when he’s sheathed. You can practice to deflect, or you can simply sprint and wait for him to attack. You can jump / sprint out of range to avoid, then attack while he cools down for a moment.

His combos will often end with a thrust motion, setting him up for an easy Mikiri Counter. If he twists his body, that means he’s about to sweep — which can be countered with a Jump. The trick for this fight is just finding opening to attack him. You’ll want to deflect and parry as many attacks as possible. Don’t worry about losing posture. If he isn’t performing a combo, you will have time to recover.

This fight is all about reflexes. Get him down to about 50% health, and you’ll be able to break his posture and defeat the first phase.

Phase 2: Isshin adds a spear and a gun to his arsenal. This dramatically changes his fighting style. He’s far more aggressive. Be prepared when he’s moving in to attack — he’ll often fire a volley of gunshots that can be deflected.

Stay on your toes, and sprint away from him. If you’re far away, he’ll often use a powerful thrust attack to close the distance. Deflect with a Mikiri Counter, but be prepared for his powerful vertical, overhead spear strikes. He’ll attempt to combo them together. You can dodge left / right to avoid, but be prepared for more overhead hits. If you dodge, you can get in a few quick strikes while he recovers.

The trick is to play defensively while Isshin goes all-out with offense. He’s wilder and faster, but you can break his posture even faster than before. His posture breaks even faster in Phase 3.

Phase 3: Isshin becomes more aggressive, and calls down the power of lightning. This attack is also his greatest weakness — jump and absorb the lighting, then attack to send the lightning surging back through Isshin. It not only does heavy damage, it also hurts his posture and leaves him stunned for several seconds. Enough to get in a few attacks.

If you train yourself to absorb Isshin’s lightning attacks, this phase is actually much easier than the previous two. He doesn’t change significantly from Phase 2, so you can continue to counter him, weaken his posture, then finish him with lighting blasts.

When he’s down, get ready to strike multiple times with a Deathblow. One deathblow isn’t enough for Isshin — he’ll try to defend. Watch his animations, and strike when the red circle appears or you’ll have to refight the entire third phase.


Demon of Hatred

  • Optional?: Yes
  • Stealthblow?: No
  • Location: Ashina Outskirts
  • Loot: Memory: Demon of Hatred

And that’s it! Check back here soon for more video guides and mini-bosses we missed.