Skills, Skill Trees, and Esoteric Text Locations - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Guide - IGN (2024)

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In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, you'll find that leveling your character is different than in other From Software games. This is not an RPG in the sense that you cannot level up and increase various stats, and specialize as a certain class. You are a Shinobi - you wield a katana, and you can clash blades and perform stealth kills.

However, there are a variety of Skills and Skill Trees to unlock. Instead of gaining character experience, you gain Skill Experience by killing enemies. Once you fill a full bar, you'll gain a Skill Point, and be able to put these points into Skill Trees. It's important to note that you begin the game with no such Skill Trees - they have to be learned by finding Esoteric Texts. Some are given by characters, others are secrets to be found, and each Skill Tree you unlock can are based around a theme.

Skills come in three types: Combat Arts, Shinobi Arts, and Latent Skills.

  • Combat Arts are rare, and only one can be equipped, and unleashed as often as you like using the shoulder buttons L1 + R1.
  • Martial Arts are skills that open up new combat potentials, like being able to perform a running slide.
  • Latent Skills are passive bonuses, like increasing the amount of consumables you can hold.

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To see a list of each of the Skill Trees, where to find their associated Esoteric Texts, and what the Skills do, see the sections below, as well as the best skills to get early.

5 Important Skills to Get Early

Video: 5 Best Skills to Get Early

There are many skills to choose from in Sekiro, and some may help you out early in the game more than others. See our picks below for the best skills early, and keep reading below to see the full list of skills, and how to unlock each skill tree.

Mikiri CounterThis move lets you counter an incoming unblockable thrust attack by dodging into the attack, as opposed to dodging away. If you meet it head on, you’ll deal impressive posture damage - which can instantly defeat lesser enemies. Even the biggest bosses all have tells for their thrust attacks, and you can rack up posture damage fast on them by being ready to counter them each time - especially when paired with the Shinobi Eyes skill.
Suppress PresenceSuppress Presence makes it harder for enemies to become aware of you when sneaking - which can make assassination attempts much easier. Minibosses in general usually have a better chance of sniffing you out - so having a better sneaking ability means a better chance to get in behind them and start the fight by shaving off one whole health bar.
Breath of the Life: LightEach time you perform a deathblow - whether in stealth, from above, or after breaking their posture or vitality, you’re guaranteed to recover some health in the process. While this won’t help you all that much against a 1v1 boss battle, it will absolutely help you tear through the legions of goons in your way, and can be used in quick succession against weak enemies like dogs that die in a single hit - since you have a few seconds after an enemy is killed to follow up with a deathblow so long as the red dot appears.
Chasing SliceWith this, you’ll be able to follow up when using either the Loaded Shuriken, Firecracker, or Spear to quickly dash up and attack - which is great both for closing the distance on ranged enemies, and it’s an excellent one-two punch for interrupting an enemy’s attack with the tool, and getting in close for a slice before they can start guarding. In particular, try using the chasing slice with a shuriken on a leaping opponent to send them crashing down into your waiting blade, or use the firecracker to stun a group of animals and dash into them all at once - or focus on their handler before the animals recover.
IchimonjiThe Ichimonji is a equippable Combat Arts that lets you perform a powerful overhead strike that not only deals great damage - but has a big added bonus. With it, you’ll deal immense posture damage, and also recover your own posture at the same time, making it a great move to unleash when your foe is open to retaliation. You can even hold down both bumpers to unleash a slower and much more powerful attack, but you may want to either be sure your opponent won’t hit you first, or lure them into running straight into your attack.
  • Unlocked from: Shinobi Esoteric Text
  • Esoteric Text Location: Given by the Sculptor after you have gained 1 Skill Point from gaining experience.
NameCostPrereqUse
Whirlwind Slash1-A Combat Art that lets you perform a spinning slash to hit multiple opponents.
Mikiri Counter2-Enables you to counter an enemy's thrusting attack by dodging into the attack and stomping on the blade, dealing immense posture damage.
A Shinobi's Karma: Body2Whirlwind SlashLatent Skill that allows you to carry more Spirit Emblems
Mid-air Deflection1Whirlwind SlashAllows you to guard from attacks and deflect bullets while in the air.
Run and Slide1Mikiri CounterEnables to slide into a crouch while sprinting to quickly enter stealth.
Suppress Presence2Mikiri CounterLatent Skill that reduces enemy ability to see and sense you in stealth.
Breath of Life: Light5A Shinobi's Karma (Rank 1)A Latent Skill that allows you to recover Vitality upon performing a successful Deathblow
A Shinobi's Karma: Mind3A Shinobi's Karma: BodyLatent Skill that allows you to carry more Spirit Emblems
Mid-air Combat Arts3Mid-air Deflection, A Shinobi's Karma: BodyA Shinobi Martial Art that grants you the ability to perform Combat Arts while jumping or falling
Shinobi Eyes3Run and Slide, Suppress PresenceA Latent Skill that will increase Posture damage inflicted after performing a Mikiri Counter
Suppress Sound3Suppress PresenceLatent Skill that lowers the amount of noise you make while moving
Vault Over2Suppress PresenceA Shinobi Martial Art that allows you to leap over and behind an enemy whose posture is broken
Shadow Rush6Mid-air Combat Arts, Shinobi EyesA Combat Art that unleashes a long range powerful thrust that can impale opponents before vaulting over them - requires Spirit Emblems
  • Unlocked From: Prosthetic Esoteric Text
  • Esoteric Text Location: Given by the Sculptor after you have obtained at least 3 Shinobi Prosthetic Tools.
NameCostPrereqUse
Chasing Slice1-A Shinobi Combat Art that performs a large step forward after using the Loaded Shuriken, Shinobi Firecracker, or Loaded Spear
Grappling Hook Attack1-Shinobi Combat Art that lets you attack during a grappling hook and strike an opponent
Fang and Blade2Chasing SliceA Shinobi Combat Art follow up attack slice after using the Loaded Axe, Loaded Spear
Mid-air Prosthetic ToolChasing SliceShinobi Combat Art that lets you perform Prosthetic Tool attacks during a jump or fall
Nightjar Slash2Grappling Hook AttackA Combat Art that allows you to leap in with a spinning slash at an enemy
Emma's Medicine: Potency4Grappling Hook AttackLatent Skill that increases healing effect of recovery items
Sculptor's Karma: Blood2Mid-air Prosthetic ToolLatent Skill that increases the number of Spirit Emblems you can hold.
Sculptor's Karma: Scars3Mid-air Prosthetic ToolLatent Skill that increases the number of Spirit Emblems you can hold
Projected Force1Mid-air Prosthetic Tool, Fang and BladeMartial Arts that let you unleash the effects of your Tool in an area in front of you
Nightjar Slash Reversal3Nightjar Slash, Emma's Medicine: PotencyA Combat Art upgrade that lets you perform a spinning leap attack away from your enemy - or towards them.
Emma's Medicine: Aroma5Emma's Medicine: PotencyA Latent Skill that increases the healing effects of all recovery items.
Living Force4Projected Force, Nightjar Slash ReversalMartial Arts that allow you to perform a follow-up attack with certain Tools that imbues the sword, including the Flame Vent.

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  • Unlocked from: Ashina Esoteric Text
  • Esoteric Text Location: Given by the Tengu of Ashina near the Ashina Castle Gate where you fought Gyoubu Oniwa. Accept his quest to hunt "rats" near the Ashina Castle Gate - who take the form of a small group of Senpou Assassins on the hill above the Sculptor's Idol.
NameCostPrereqUse
Ichimonji1N/AA Combat Art that delivers a heavy overhead strike that deals great posture damage while recovering your own, and can be held for a slower and more powerful attack.
Ascending Carp2IchimonjiA Latent Skill that increases the Posture Damage dealt with a successful deflection.
Descending Carp1IchimonjiA Latent Skill that increases all Posture Damage dealt from any source after a successful Deflection
Breath of Nature: Light2Ascending CarpA Latent Skill that allows you to recover some Posture after any successful Deathblow.
Flowing Water3Ascending CarpA Latent Skill that reduces the amount of Posture Damage taken by an enemy's sword.
Ichimonji: Double3Ascending Carp, Descending CarpA Combat Art upgrade that allows you to follow up and Ichimonji strike with a second attack.
Ashina Cross5Flowing Water, Ichimonji DoubleA Combat Art that allows to unsheathe your blade in a high-speed cross slash attack. Costs Spirit Emblems to use.
  • Unlocked From: Senpou Esoteric Text
  • Esoteric Text Location: Located in a shrine at the very top of the Senpou Temple, Mount Kongo. Enter a cave to the left of the Main Hall Sculptor's Idol to come out onto a cliff with a pagoda, and the text lies within.
NameCostPrereqUse
Praying Strikes2N/ACombat Art that allows you to use several arm and elbow strikes without being counterattacked
Virtuous Deed3Praying StrikesA Latent Skill that improves the amount of Sen and drop rates from enemies.
Praying Strikes - Exorcism3Praying StrikesA Combat Art Upgrade that adds a finishing strike to Praying Strikes to knockback foes.
Most Virtuous Deed4Virtuous DeedFurther increases the amount of Sen and item drop rates from enemies.
Senpou Leaping Kicks3Virtuous DeedA Combat Art that combines an anti-air leaping counter kick followed with several more kick attacks.
Devotion3Praying Strikes - ExorcismA Latent Skill that improves the time that Buddhist candy is active for.
High Monk4Senpou Leaping KicksA Combat Art Upgrade that adds sword slashes and more kicks to the Senpou Leaping Kick, finishing with a jumping forward kick.
  • Unlocked From: Mushin Esoteric Text
  • Esoteric Text Location: Given by the Tengu of Ashina, once he moves to the Serpent Shrine above the Sunken Valley. He will only give this skill book to you if you have gotten the final Ashina Cross Skill in the Ashina Arts skill tree, and only before you have defeated the bosses of Senpou Temple, Sunken Valley, and Ashina Depths - as the placement of enemies and characters will change during Ashina Castle (Dusk).

Unlike other Skill Trees, there are only a few Combat Art Skills to learn, and they all require you to have gotten the final Skill in the other Skill Trees.

NameCostPrereqUse
Shadowfall6High Monk, ShadowrushA Combat Art that combines Shadowrush with the ability to leap into the air and perform a spinning slash as you descend. Costs Spirit Emblems to jump off enemies.
Spiral Cloud Passage9Shadowrush, Ashina CrossA Combat Art that allows you to unleash nine quick strikes that emit powerful shockwaves at short range. Costs Spirit Emblems to use.
Empowered Mortal Draw5Ashina Cross, Living ForceA Combat Art that allows you to draw the Mortal Blade for an extended slash attack that cuts through opponents with powerful force.

Certain skills in Sekiro are actually given to you as rewards for defeating MIni-Bosses. These skills stack with other similar skills, even if they have different names.

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NameObtained FromUse
Shinobi Medicine Rank 1Chained Ogre - Ashina OutskirtsIncreases healing effect of recovery items.
Shinobi Medicine Rank 2Blazing Bull - Ashina Castle Gate
Shinobi Medicine Rank 3Chained Ogre - Ashina Castle (Dusk)
Breath of Nature: ShadowArmored Warrior - Senpou TempleRecovers Posture upon performing a Deathblow
Breath of Life: ShadowO'Rin of the Water - Ashina DepthsRecovers Vitality upon performing a Deathblow
A Beast's KarmaSakura Bull of the Palace - Fountainhead PalaceIncreases the maximum number of Spirit Emblems held by 1

Up Next: Sekiro Prayer Bead Locations

PreviousFinger WhistleNextSekiro Prayer Bead Locations

Top Guide Sections

  • Essential Tips to Know When Playing Sekiro
  • Changes in New Game Plus
  • Things to Do First in Sekiro
  • How Combat Works in Sekiro

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In This Guide

Skills, Skill Trees, and Esoteric Text Locations - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Guide - IGN (1)

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

FromSoftware

ESRB: Mature
StadiaPlayStation 4PCXbox One

Related Guides

OverviewEssential Tips to Know When Playing SekiroChanges in New Game PlusThings to Do First in Sekiro

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