Real talk: I have the attention span of a mayfly that's just polished off a bottle of insect Scotch. As such, my recent attempts to get back into and finish Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice feel utterly doomed. I first started my playthrough back in ye olden times of March 2019, which genuinely feels like a decade ago. Almost 18 months on, my prospects of finishing FromSoftware's granite-hard shinobi adventure look slim. I'd blame my tattered attention span again, but really, it's all that damn monkey's fault.
I reeeeaally hate the Guardian Ape. A despicable mid-game boss, it can be found leisurely lounging in a secluded lagoon deep within Sekiro's Sunken Valley region. Well, I say "leisurely". As soon as this hairy horror sees you, it springs from an initial squatted position, flattens a forest of trees trying to swat you with its paws, before resorting to chucking faeces at you. Yup, the Guardian Ape isn't just a 15ft-tall murder monkey; it's a 15ft-tall murder monkey who throws its own shit at you too.
Not just any shit, mind you. This particular form of fecal matter is poisonous. Because of course it is. As are its farts… naturally. Get splattered/sprayed by either and your health bar will drain at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it rate. Throw in a repertoire of hard-to-read lunges and swipes, and like many of Sekiro's bosses, the Guardian Ape can prove an appalling pain to take down.
Spoiler: this rambling tale doesn't have a happy – or at least, non-cheaty – ending. I've still not beaten ape boy. Taking a quick glance at my Steam stats, my Sekiro playthrough currently sits at 43 hours. I'm not exactly sure what that number was when I fought the Guardian Ape for the first time, but I'm fairly certain the double digit figure started with a three. Ouch.
Falling down a YouTube hole
I must have fallen to my ape arch nemesis over 20 times in a row. On the few measly occasions I've managed to behead it with a sliver of health remaining, it shakes said decapitation off like it was a papercut, before a second headless form garottes me in short order. Yes, this is a two-stage boss fight. And yes, somehow this foe is even tougher to beat minus its monkey face.
I've since been led down a hideously convoluted side road; one where I'm now convinced levelling up Sekiro's stoic samurai is the only way I'll ever topple my primate foe. Do I need to collect Prayer Beads to increase my max vitality? Oh, I have to beat other bosses to earn those? Screw that. Wait a minute, a quick spot of research tells me the Loaded Spear attachment for my Prosthetic Tool can help vanquish the ape's pesky second form. Annnnnnd now I'm down the deepest of YouTube holes.
"Sekiro Loaded Spear location". "How to use Sekiro's Loaded Spear". "Guardian Ape Loaded Spear trick". These increasingly desperate searches go on and on, my sanity slowly evaporating with each passing video. Suddenly, I decide I'm going to leave the Guardian Ape for a bit to go and explore that dank flooded cave network I vaguely remember getting lost in prior to all the monkey murder. But wait! Now there's a gargantuan albino snake blocking my route that I have no idea how to get past. Annnnnd it's back down the YouTube hole…
"How to get past the snake in Sekiro". "Easy way to avoid giant snake Sekiro". "Snake Sekiro monkey trick". Turns out, there's a monkey in this scenario too. Except this one is regular monkey sized, and according to several YouTubers who clearly know far more about Sekiro than I ever will, if I find something called the 'Puppeteer Ninjutsu', I can possess the little scamp and use him as a hairy decoy so that I can slip past the serpent.
This leads me down yet another desperate YouTube avenue – don't worry, this is the last one in case you're getting tired of this bit. "Where to find Puppeteer Ninjutsu". "How to use Puppeteer Ninjutsu". "Puppeteer Ninjutsu giant snake technique". "The best of pre-lockdown 2020 | The Graham Norton Show". Because A) It's YouTube and I'm only human, and B) I've not had an alcoholic beverage in a public bar for over three months and I need to watch Tom Hiddleston's Robert De Niro impression, dammit!
Maybe it's down to my advancing years further eroding my crummy memory, but I've found myself settling into this ludicrous YouTube routine more and more. I abandon a game I'm enjoying for a few months, I forget all the buttons, and whatever the hell I'm supposed to be doing when I jump back in, and then I'm forced to watch half a dozen videos just to get acclimatized. To blatantly pilfer a Lethal Weapon line, "I'm getting too old for this shit."
If at first you don't succeed, cheat and try again
I am not, however, too old to be a blatant, filthy cheat. Turns out, there is no mystical YouTube video that can impart enough wisdom upon me to get to the required ape-annihilating level of "git gud". What there is, is a magical modding tool called Sekiro FPS Unlocker and More: a game-changing piece of software that looks like it's going to help me murder that ape once and for all.
A tool ostensibly created to let PC players raise Sekiro's frame rate above the default 60fps cap, this cheeky little app also allows you to fiddle with both player and enemy speeds. Now, at 100% game speed, the Guardian Ape is simply too ferocious and nimble for my faltering sausage fingers. But whack the monkey's movement down to 90%, while also knocking up player speed to 105%, and my cheaty inner child is starting to feel confident.
20 minutes before I decide to write this cautionary (if not contritious) tale, I get the ape's second form down to a tiny bit of health. Sure, he kills me again – I'm still persisting with that Loaded Spear 'trick', and yes, I still plainly suck at it – yet it's a narrow victory for Team Monkey.
I'm not a betting man, but I'm guessing if I use Sekiro FPS Unlocker and More to slow the Guardian Ape down to 65%, while simultaneously upping my shinobi's speed to 125%, Vegas odds are going to be heavily skewed towards my cheaty samurai. The moral of this pointless story? Cheating is not only both big and clever, it's entirely justified when it comes to killing a crap-chucking mega chimp.