Horses are an underrated enemy, both in video games and in real life, and we should all get the chance to slay them more often.
In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the first big boss you fight is a guy named Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa. Gyoubu has a big spear and an even bigger horse, and after trying and failing a handful of times to kill Gyoubu, I realized I wasn’t really fighting the man, I was actually fighting the horse.
And boy did I enjoy hitting that horse with my sword.
Contrary to popular belief, horses are not nice. I say this as a person with absolutely no expertise on horses or animals in general. I do know that they are large, they have scary teeth, they can kill humans with a single kick, and I’ve been afraid of them for almost my entire life.
With a little bit of research, I’ve learned that horses are basically killing machines, and with near-360-degree vision, they’re always watching. Waiting. Measuring your height to know just where land a fatal blow.
It was nice to be able to take on one of these animals virtually.
While slashing at Gyoubu’s horse repeatedly and occasionally frightening it with firecrackers so I could hit it some more, I was trying to think of other great games that let you take down these gigantic mammals.
There aren’t a ton. Games like Mount & Blade: Warband have horses in them that can be killed easily with a melee weapon, you can shoot horses in Red Dead Redemption if you want, and some RPGs let you attack horses that are generally wandering around peacefully.
But Sekiro really reminded me how empty I feel when I kill horses in those games. Sure, I’m cutting down animals I hate, but it doesn’t feel right when they aren’t actually that big of a threat.
In Sekiro, you come face to face with this horse, which is incredibly loyal to its evil master. This horse is evil, and it wants to kill you.
Throughout the fight, the main character Sekiro is just hacking away at this beast’s legs and body, tiring it out and whittling its lifeforce down until horse and master have no choice but to give in, defeated and bloodied. After you deliver a death blow to Gyoubu, the horse stands for a moment before the two of them turn into dust and disappear in the wind.
I’m not sure there’s a more satisfying horse kill than this in the world of gaming. Sure, you don’t get to land a cool-looking deathblow on the horse at the end, but it’s clearly dead and gone for good.
This horse charged at me, kicked at me, and tried to help Gyoubu kill me. It was a good battle, but it deserved to dissolve into nothing.