Sekiro boss guide: Isshin, the Sword Saint (Phase 3)


From Software/Activision via Polygon

It’s time for the third and final phase of Sekiro‘s Isshin, the Sword Saint boss fight. Thankfully, it’s not a huge change from Phase 2. Unfortunately, it now throws lightning.

You’ve already completed two phases of this fight (three if you count Genichiro), but there are still many fights ahead. In this guide we will show you how to defeat Isshin.

Best Prosthetic Tools and Items Isshin, the Sword Saint

There are always items and attacks that work well Sekiro Bosses Here are our picks for the best items to take into your battle with Isshin the Sword Saint.

  • Suzaku lotus umbrella. We recommend this prosthetic again, as Isshin’s spear attacks still have long range and his wind-based attacks are very deadly. Instead of interrupting them, use the charged umbrella to take them out.

You won’t have much time (or space) to use items at this stage of the fight. If you really want to wear one, get one eel liver for punch deflection, but if you follow our advice below you shouldn’t need it.

Isshin the Holy Sword Stage 3

general strategies

Again, your goal here is to improve your posture rather than deal a lot of vitality damage. Sure, Isshin mixes lightning and a new wind attack, but you’ve seen most of this fight by now. And that means you’ll spend most of this fight doing the things you’ve already done: dodging and countering Mikiri as much as possible.

The trick at this stage of the fight is to use Isshin’s new attacks against him as well, especially with flash reversals. It’s possible to dodge or avoid these shock attacks, but using them to deal stance damage will greatly reduce the duration of that fight.

Isshin, the attacks of the Sword Saint

Let’s talk about Isshin and Sword Saint attacks, how to identify them and what to do about them.

Dangerous Attack 1: Lightning Strike

For Isshin’s two lightning attacks, he leans back (you’ll see the light hit his crown) and throws himself into the air. The red kanji appears above Wolf’s head, then Isshin follows with a lightning attack. He’s hard to spot in the thick of battle, but if he holds his spear against his body, to your right, to your left, he’ll sweep it away in a wide side arc. If you run, you can avoid him. That is possible avoid him, but the moment is very difficult.

Isshin’s two Blitz attacks are your chance to perform a Blitz takedown. We’ll discuss this in more detail below in the Sekiro Attacks section.

Dangerous Attack 2: Lightning

Similar to his previous sweep attack, Isshin will leap into the air to launch this attack. He will hold his spear above his head and behind his back. It will take you on a dramatic twist. It is possible to dodge this attack by running under Isshin (and to the side for safety).

Isshin’s two Blitz attacks are your chance to perform a Blitz takedown. We’ll discuss this in more detail below in the Sekiro Attacks section.

wind spiral

This Wind Spiral is the same as the Phase 2 attack and we’re including it here because it’s a very damaging attack. Again, we recommend only mounting it with the screen loaded, as it has a very long range (which we didn’t manage to do in the video above).

gusts of wind

Isshin’s new wind-based attack starts the same way as his previous spiral attack. However, there is a very subtle difference in the way he holds his spear. For the spiral attack, the spear is placed at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. In this slashing attack, the spear is much closer to the horizontal.

After picking up the wind, Isshin will unleash a couple of punches that cover a ton of ground. You can use the charged umbrella to block them, or run to the side (or dodge) to get out of the way.

Sekiro’s attacks

Most of this fight responds to attacks from Isshin the Sword Saint, but we should also point out what to do when you attack.

flash reversals

Mikiri’s counterattacks are great, but the real secret of this phase is the lightning-fast reversals. Landing a Lightning Knockdown surprises Isshin and freezes him for a moment, but more importantly, it fills up some of his stance meter. You’ve only had a chance to use it a few times so far, so you might not get much practice with it. Yes, training against the final boss will kill you (and you have a long fight to get back to this stage), but this training will be worth it.

Practice timing first. Jump into the air at roughly the same spot you would begin a parry, right at the point where your swing begins. If you jump earlier, you risk hitting the ground before you can reverse the beam.

The second part of Lightning Reversal requires less practice: smashing the attack button is absolute hell. Once you get hit by Isshin’s lightning, you need to get rid of it as quickly as possible. In our experience, this is inexplicably more complicated than it needs to be. Don’t get discouraged, keep going.

We’ve included a successful flash reversal above that is much slower so you can see every step of the process. The most important thing to note is the awkward end of the process, the jump begins. (You can also see that we started reversing even before we were struck by lightning – it worked for us, but only because we fell like crazy.)

Our advice in practice

Again we have a video of our whole fight in phase 3. There are some (big) mistakes but we still did well. You can see us land two (of three) Lightning Reversals, along with a Mikiri Counter and some really satisfying deflects.

Just make sure to push the attack towards the end. Isshin’s attacks are deadly, and it’s a mistake not to fight back to attack relentlessly (you can see at the end of the video above that we took a big hit before we were done).

Isshin, the Sword Saint, items and rewards

Defeat Isshin the Sword Saint and you’ll get the Souvenir: Holy Isshin and the Lightning Dragon skill.

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