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Throughout all of From Software games, enemies and bosses are notoriously relentless in completing their sole mission: eliminating you. This aggression leads them to stop at nothing to ensure you will not emerge victorious, often using worldly elements to take you down.
Enemies in Sekiro are no exception, and a few specific enemies in Ashina will call upon the power of lightning in the middle of combat. Telegraphed by a Red Kanji, these enemies will leap up into the air and slash a lightning bolt directly at the player, which may cause some to panic.
While this lightning may seem intimidating, do not be too afraid. There is an easy way to give them a taste of their own medicine with a Lightning Reversal.
Three Easy Steps
- Need to slightly delay jump into the attack, as all of them are slightly delayed
- Once in the air, deflect the lightning as it strikes you, imbuing you with lightning
- Before you touch the ground, press the attack button, which will, in turn, reverse the lightning attack back to the enemy
When this attack comes out, you cannot hesitate in your decision. This attack is not deflectable or parriable if approached with the standard rules of Sekiro in mind. You can dodge it, but this should only be a last resort behind the Lightning reversal. All you have to do is jump in the air and spam the block button to pull off this move. Doing this will imbue Sekrio with the same powers that the enemy was using against him.
Timing is Everything
The goal with the Lightning reversal is to jump just as the attack is about to land. Once you have blocked the lightning attack, Sekiro will take a small amount of damage but will now hold the power of the lightning.
Sekrio will send a sweeping lightning attack back toward the adversary by pressing the attack button while in the air. Nailing the reverse will require you to slightly delay your jump because the enemies who use lightning will hang in the air for a second before they swing. If you jump too early, the attack will land on the way down from the jump you and will not have time to launch the attack back.
If you hit the ground before sending the lightning back, you will suffer significant health damage and will be stunned for a quick second. Jumping too late will result in you being hit by the lightning too close to the ground, with not enough time to send it back. Be patient and wait a second before jumping in the air, and the lightning reversal will become second nature.
Perfect the Jump
Believe it or not, the direction you jump could completely ruin the lightning reversal. If you jump backward while being hit, your reverse could be too far out of range, causing you to take slight damage with no reward.
Jumping too far forward could also cause issues, so be aware of that. If the enemy is mobile, they could move too close, causing the move to miss and leaving you susceptible to follow-up attacks.
I find that jumping up and slightly forward works the best, as the wide range of the reversal will be sure to catch them with this jump. It will take some practice, as I know how annoying the timing can be, especially mid-combat against a problematic boss.
Other Ways to Counter Lightning
A select few prosthetics and combat arts will allow you to reverse the lightning attack, and they are all flashy in their ways. For prosthetics, the Aged Feather Mist Raven and the Great Feather Mist Raven will allow you to perform a lightning reversal.
A perk of using these prosthetics is that they negate the chip damage that you would get from a typical reversal. Try using this prosthetic right as you are getting hit, which can be difficult to time at first. If performed correctly, Sekiro will disappear for half a second and reappear in the air, ready to serve the reversal.
It would help if you remembered which way you are pointing the ability towards, as going any other direction but up will result in you being shocked. The player should access the mist raven prosthetic in general by the time you reach the endgame, so everyone should have access to this. This tactic is one of my favorite ways to pull this off, but my all-time favorite is much harder to come by.
The Sakura Dance in Sekiro is one of the most extraordinary and flashiest combat arts. It also serves as the easiest way to reverse lightning, which is a nice bonus.
This solution will not be something that players come by in their first playthrough, as players will need to beat the Gauntlet of Strength: Divine Heir to acquire this power. The gauntlets serve as a massive test for those who feel they have mastered Sekrio, as it requires you to defeat a set number of bosses without fully dying. This specific gauntlet requires you to face Inner Genichiro, a buffed-up version of Genichiro, directly after facing Gyoubu Oniwa and Lady Butterfly.
This battle may seem challenging, but the reward is well worth the effort. Inner Genichiro will use Sakura Dance in this fight to reverse your lightning reversal back to you, requiring you to pull off two reversals in a row. Genichiro will catch your lightning, spin in the air with it twice, and then unleash a massive lightning attack back in your direction. Once you beat him, you will need to practice the timing of the move before jumping headfirst.
With the Sakura Dance, players will have to delay their reverse significantly. If you perform this move too early, you could miss the lightning entirely. Pulling this off will result in Sekiro jumping and spinning into the air, catching the lightning.
Sekiro will turn twice in the air with the lightning before a final spin dashes the lightning back to the sender. Again, no chip damage will occur because of this combat art, and it is by far my favorite move in Sekiro.
History of Lightning Reversal
As the player makes their way through Ashina Castle, they will eventually stumble upon a mini-boss named Ashina Elite Jinsuke Saze . He will be sure to test your deflection skills, as he uses a skill to quickly attack the player with two slashes that can kill you if not deflected.
- Wait for his tell, which is a light appearing on his sword as he loads up the move
- Be patient, and learn the timing of the deflects, which come consecutively.
- Posture damage is the way to go, as this attack will stack posture up quick
Once players defeat this mini-boss, approach the shrine to receive an item called an eel liver, which helps negate lightning damage and shock buildup.
There will also be a note that players can read on the wall directly above the Eel Liver, which will give you an idea of the history of the lightning reversal. The message, titled Hanging Scroll of an Old Battle, reads:
“Ghosts once lurked the lands of Ashina. The ghosts’ lightning was of the Fountainhead gods, unstoppable by normal means. Avoid ground, reverse the lightning.”
Who Uses Lightning?
This note was left behind by a brave soul who was venturing up the Ashina Castle before you, and it forewarns us of the looming battle approaching. The ability to use lightning in battle is not bestowed to all enemies, as only a select few enemies can wield this power. I will walk you through who can use lightning in this game and how they will telegraph these attacks.
- Most attacks will follow the same pattern; a loud tell followed by a delayed lightning attack
- Watch for a Red Kanji appearing above your head, as this will also be an alert that a lightning attack is incoming
- Being on the ground is your worst enemy with lightning, so be sure to stay in the air when reversing
First Encounter: Ashina Castle
Carrying on from the defeat of Ashina Elite Jinsuke Saze, players will proceed up to the castle’s roof, where our first real battle (excluding the introductory fight) with Genichiro will commence.
The first phase will be a great challenge for newcomers, but that is not where we will focus our attention. Spoiler alert for this fight, but there is a second phase, and this is where Genichiro will unveil to us his new power, the ability to wield lightning. Standing in his new form, he is now known as Genichiro, Way of Tomoe, and he will change his moves up slightly and gain the ability to use lightning against you.
Tomoe was Genichiro’s mentor, and we can imply that Genichiro adopted this new fighting style and the ability to use lightning, thanks to her teaching.
Regardless of the spectacle that this fight can become, you need to stay focused in this second phase, as the lightning attacks can be devastating if they land. When Genichiro holds his blade vertically in front of him, a red Kenji will appear over your head.
He will jump into the air, leaping towards you with an overhead lightning strike following quickly behind. Be sure to jump slightly after he jumps, so you get hit with the lightning on the way up, and then press attack on the way down to punish. He has a few attacks, so you must learn all of them.
If he is close to you, he can do the same version of this attack, but instead, he will leap backward, releasing a wide swing in the air. This movement can sometimes result in him being out of range for the follow-up attack.
To make sure you get a hit, try and jump forward a little into the lightning if you can recognize this tell. It will start in the same way, so your current positioning would be the only way to discern between the two.
Lastly, he will sometimes leap back into the air, pulling out his bow and charging up a lightning arrow. Again, these attacks are slightly delayed, so start moving forward when he makes this attack and jump right as he shoots the arrow, if not slightly before. This opening will allow you to chip away at his health bar with his attack.
This fight isn’t a battle that players will encounter throughout the regular playthrough of Sekrio, so this is a particular tip. This modification is a much more brutal fight compared to the standard version of Genichiro, and even the lightning attacks get a buff. This version of Genichiro can only be accessed after the first playthrough in the sculptors’ idol menu under Reflection of Strength.
These tells will all be the same; however, it will take two lightning reversals in a row for the stun to work, because Genichiro will reverse your lightning back on you. This new move is annoying, but it truly is fantastic to see.
The first few times I fought this version of Genichiro, I couldn’t help but get distracted by the moment’s beauty. A determined, lightning-imbued warrior is dancing in the air, stopping at nothing to defend the land he loves. The thunderous, rainy backdrop transforming this battle into something out of a movie makes this spectacle more dramatic.
Second Encounters: Fountainhead Palace
Many enemies use lightning in the Fountainhead palace, and one of them stands as one of the most annoying enemies in Sekiro. This enemy will hang out at the edge of a tree branch, waiting for you to hop in the water. Once you do, a red Kanji will appear above your head, and a lightning bolt will quickly follow suit, shocking you for a large chunk of health.
Staying in the water will keep this onslaught active, resulting in your death. This barrier will result in you exploring deep into the palace, eventually unlocking a sculptor’s idol right next to the tree branch.
The way to approach these enemies stays constant across these encounters so I will go over this once. These field enemies will telegraph their attacks with a red Kanji, and a loud ‘HAAAAAA’ as they jump into the air. Again, delay your jump and move towards the enemy as they are winding up the attack.
Or, spam them with Shuirkens as they are in the air to hopefully knock them down. The enemies will usually do a little dance before the lightning attack, leaping in place back and forth a few times before going up in the air.
One outlier for this rule would be the dogs in Fountainhead. Dogs are notoriously annoying and challenging to deal with across Fromsoftware games, and this is no different in Sekiro. The dogs in Ashina can be incredibly irritating to deal with, as they are persistent with their attacks. In Fountainhead Palace, these guys get a diabolical upgrade.
These dogs can now shoot lightning at you from a distance, telegraphed by a red Kanji. Either dodge or jump into the attack, and you should be able to handle these guys. Or, even better advice, avoid these guys every chance you get.
Another encounter with lightning reversal comes in one of my favorite fights in Sekiro. The Divine Dragon is the final boss in the Fountainhead Palace, and despite it being a relatively easy gimmick boss, this fight is an insanely breathtaking encounter that all players will enjoy.
The lightning reversal here is the only way to damage the Dragon, so you will need to pay attention to which tree the lightning is striking. Grapple to the tree with the lightning, and jump into the strike. This hit sends you flying up into the air, where you can now release a massive lightning reversal back at the Dragon. After doing this for a while, the Dragon will eventually go down, and you can run up its sword and extract the dragon tear straight from its eye.
Third Encounter: Endgame
Isshin Ashina, the Sword Saint
The last encounter with the lightning reversal move comes in Sekiro’s final duel and one of my favorite bosses of all time, Isshin Ashina, the Sword Saint. This four-phase marathon is a battle of attrition, and you will need to be on the top of your game at all times to emerge victoriously.
The first three phases are each a beast in their own regard, as each time you get a death blow, Isshin will get a new moveset with new weapons at his disposal. The lightning attacks that we are worried about coming in the final phase of this fight can drastically shorten the length of this last phase.
While mid-combat, Isshin will sometimes leap back into the air, and a red Kanji will appear above your head. This alert tells you that the lightning attack is incoming, and prepare accordingly. While in the air, Isshin will wind up a lightning attack back and seemingly strike a pose while levitating. Like always, delay your jump, and as he swings, jump into the sweeping lightning attack to get some massive damage on him.
Inner Isshin, the Sword Saint
This encounter is just like Inner Genichrio, as you cannot access it until you beat the game. And while his moveset, speed, aggression, and overall difficulty are drastically increased, the lightning reversal attacks and tells remain the same across both fights.
RNG will play a large part in his approach to this final phase, as he could either spam the lightning to no end or be reluctant to pull it out, keeping the sword-clashing punishment going. Overall, the approach to reversing the lightning stays the same, but Inner Isshin operates at a speed that will require players to be on their toes.
Lightning Reversal Overview
In these games, there are not many times where we get to directly punch back at a boss or enemy with their weapon. The Lightning Reversal is another example of the deep, layered combat system that Sekiro offers. This move may seem simple at first to pull off because it is.
However, like everything in Sekiro, timing is everything. It may take a few attempts to perfect the timing of each move you are trying to intertwine into your combat. The lightning reversal should be easy to master. It will serve as a great ally in action against enemies foolish enough to use lightning against you.
Question: Do you have to reverse lightning attacks?
Answer: No, you don’t have to reverse these attacks all the time, and you can dodge them with the correct timing. However, Sekiro favors direct counters and blocking/deflecting instead of weaving, and many of the attacks have insane tracking. Yes, you can dodge the lightning, but it leaves you vulnerable to attacks, and it takes away the chance to do some severe damage to your opponent.
Question: Can you block lightning attacks?
Answer: No, you cannot simply block these attacks. These count as a perilous attack, or ‘non-blockable’, and staying on the ground trying to time a deflect will only end with you suffering the consequences.
Question: Can you reverse the attacks in the water, like at Fountainhead?
Answer: No, the guy who is shooting you when you are in the water at Fountainhead cannot be lightning reversed while in the water. However, if you can bait a bolt to hit you on land, you can use that lightning to hurt other enemies nearby.
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