The folklore roots of Sekiro's anus-ball snatching enemies
From the feral beasts of Bloodborne to Dark Souls’ assorted grotesques, FromSoftware has a habit of infusing its work with horror. Its latest game, Sekiro may have swapped out gothic spires and dungeons for silvergrass and sakura, but there’s still darkness festering beneath the surface. Game director Hidetaka Miyazaki once explained “it’s important to have that sense of fear and terror” in order for players to go onto overcome it.
One of these encounters with terror can happen early on in Sekiro. A little way past the Chained Ogre – one of the first signs that not all is well in the land of Ashina – is a small shrine clinging to a cliffside. Posted to one of its walls is a warning: “turn back if you value your life.” If you choose to advance, using your grappling hook to swing round the cliffside and down into a cave below, you’ll be rewarded with a confrontation with one of From’s most disturbing enemy designs yet – as well as a quick death.
Inside the cave where the wind groans squats a Headless. This is one of several decapitated warriors that hide out in the dark, waiting to slice you into ribbons with their giant glowing katanas. Alongside several other monsters in the game, the Headless cause a build-up of Terror. When it reaches critical mass (the status bar filling up completely), you die instantly.