Let me preface this by saying I’ve beaten sekiro 4 times, to NG+3, and gotten all achievements with about 100 hours played. I never skipped this fight, not did I die to it after my second playthrough. I also never had fun with the fight, and I’d like to explain why.
From’s games have always been worse at multiple enemy encounters than duels, but some fights can still shine in a multiple enemy framework. Elena the squalid queen, the abyss watchers, and four kings, and the man eaters are all examples of multiple enemy fights that are quite enjoyable. Many, however, fall flat, mostly because the combat of these games, with committed attacks and a lock on camera, are built for one on one fights. My favorite fights in these games are the 1v1 duels for a reason. Gwyn, Artorias, Fume Knight, Slave Knight Gael, and others understand this, and pit the player character against a single powerful foe. Sekiro leans on this system even more, forcing the player to use directional parrying for most attacks instead of rolling. Isshin, Owl (Father), and True Corrupted Monk are all great fights precisely because of this dueling framework.
Now, the apes. The double ape fight is needlessly frustrating for a few reasons. The fight isn’t fair, and not because its two on one. You’re also fighting the camera system, the cramped arena, dimly lit telegraphs, and the entire development team at fromsoft. The fight simply takes place in too small an arena, and the apes are too mobile. Spending 80% of your time in a fight running around blindly like a chicken with its head cut off to avoid having the apes pincer you for unavoidable damage simply isn’t fun. Running up and down the arena to parry a few attacks a minute and getting one or two hits off does not make for compelling gameplay, and the alternative is having powerful foes launching into attacks while off screen, which never feels right. It doesn’t play to Sekiro’s strengths, it feels too frustrating to die, and I can’t find a way to make the fight fun for myself with prosthetics or combat arts. Even using the loaded spear to eat chunks of the health bar is unreliable, because sometimes there will be enough time in the two-ape combo to not be hit when stabbing, but sometimes there won’t and using this intended method will result in unavoidable damage. One you’re up a few ng cycles, each of these times where damage doesn’t quite feel fair or both enemies launched attacks but only one was on screen are grating. This fight has never been fun for me, and I think it is somewhere between the Royal Rat Authority and Bed of Chaos in terms of fights that make me hesitate when deciding whether or not to replay a fromsoft game. If you read the whole thing, thanks for listening. Fuck the double ape.