Sekiro is tough. It might not be built to break your spirit, but it’ll definitely do that at some point, as you keep repeating the same portions over and over before dying to the same bosses and mini-bosses again and again. This is a From Software game, after all, with a similar degree of difficulty as Bloodborne and the Dark Souls games. There are a few ways to make it a little bit easier, though, and chief among them are by collecting prayer beads.
Prayer beads are the only way to permanently increase your health in Sekiro. When you have four of them, you can visit any Sculptor’s Idol (those blue checkpoints that you’ll find throughout the game) and cash them in for a permanent health boost. That makes the prayer beads pretty much the most important items you need to track down in the game. There are 40 of them total, and every time you turn in four at an Idol your health is increased by 20%. So if you find all of them, your health meter will be three times as long as it was at the start of the game.
They’re not easy to get, of course. For most of them you’ll have to beat a mini-boss first, and as always that’s much easier said than done in a From Software game. There are also 11 prayer beads hidden throughout the game that you can find with a bit of dogged exploration, so it’s vital that you don’t fall into a routine of assuming every bead can only be collected after beating a major enemy.
Here’s a quick list of all the locations you can find those 11 extra beads, followed by a rundown of every mini-boss encounter that provides you with one, as well.
This is one of the easiest beads to get. All you need is 1400 Sen. There’s a merchant just outside the Abandoned Dungeon, near the Abandoned Dungeon Sculptor’s Idol. If you haven’t been there, start at the Ashina Castle Sculptor’s Idol and walk towards the Dungeon. The Dungeon Memorial Mob (as the merchant is called) will be selling a single prayer bead for 1400 Sen. If you don’t have enough when you meet him, just grind some enemies until you’ve grabbed enough coin.
Secret rooms and fake walls might sound like old-school videogame ideas, but Sekiro does it in a way that makes sense. Make it to the Sculptor’s Idol in the Antechamber of the Upper Tower. Walk into the main room, and turn right into a smaller chamber. Then break left and run until you get to a dead end with another scroll on the wall. Hug it and push against it and you’ll find another secret room with a prayer bead inside a treasure chest. There’ll be all kinds of enemies between the Sculptor’s Idol and the chest, so be prepared.
There are three free-floating beads in this area, in addition to the five you can get from beating mini-bosses. To find the first one, you’ll have to defeat Snake Eyes Shirahagi. When you’re next to the Sculptor’s Idol, look up and find the grapple point over the poison pool. Drop down to the rock in the middle of the pool and then use the grapple point at the edge of the pool. Run to the left of the enemy, following a path that turns left down into a cave. In the cave there’ll be an opening above and to the left that you can grapple to. Run down that path and then climb up the short cliff to your left. Wall jump back and forth up the chamber until you hit the landing on the left, and then walk to the opening that overlooks the poison pool. There you’ll find some yellow gunpowder. Look to your right and you’ll see your behind a Buddha statue with a grapple point on its head. Pull yourself up there and you’ll find a prayer bead.
For the next prayer bead, start at the Water Mill Sculptor’s Idol. Head down to where you fought O’rin of the Water and run across the bridge. Grapple up to that house (again, you’ll be dodging or fighting enemies this whole time) and crawl below the house. There’s a floorboard you can grab onto and flip up through underneath the left side of the house. Once you’re in the house you can run out through a door and jump onto a large rock. From that rock you can grapple up to the house’s second floor, where you’ll find a shrine with a prayer bead in it.
You’ll need to have acquired the Mibu Breathing Technique on the skill tree to get to the final prayer bead in the Depths. There’s a lake in Mibu Village. Jump in, swim to the bottom, and find a chest with a prayer bead inside.
So at the edge of a battlefield near the Ashina Castle Gate there’s a temple where you meet a guy named the Tengu of Ashina. If you grapple up to the top of this temple, all the way into the attic, you’ll see a treasure chest. Inside is a prayer bead.
Find the Great Colored Carp Lake. Inside the lake you’ll find three enemies, including a skeleton covered in glowing worms. The prayer bead is next to the skeleton; grab it as quickly as you can and then try to get the heck out of there.
Here’s another wall that’s not quite as it seems. Not far from the Sculptor’s Idol in the Hirata Audience Chamber, down a hall that’s guarded by a couple of enemies, you’ll see a scroll on the wall. Behind that scroll is a secret room with a chest in it. Inside that chest is, you guessed it, a prayer bead.
Here’s another one that requires the Mibu Breathing Technique skill. Fast travel to the Sculptor’s Idol at the Temple Grounds. Jump down to the roof of the building beneath the cliff that the Idol is on. That building overlooks a large pond. Jump into the pond, and then dive beneath the surface. You’ll see a dim light in the distance underwater. Swim to it and grab that bead.
You can find two prayer beads here, not counting the two you get from defeating mini-bosses. For the first one, start at the Under-Shrine Valley Sculptor’s Idol. If you’re facing the Idol, turn around and start walking down the path in front of you. You’ll have to jump over a chasm and use your grappling hook to land on a large ledge. There’ll be two enemies here, so take ‘em out quickly. Then wall jump up the side of the cliff opposite where the enemies were, and follow that path uphill. You’ll have to wall jump again to an even higher ledge on your left. Hug the wall and follow that path until you find yourself overlooking a snow-covered plain with a few small shrines on it. You’ll see two items down there; jump down and the closest one to you, sitting right in front of a small pyramidal shrine, will be a prayer bead.
The second prayer bead in the Sunken Valley can be found after you’ve beaten the Long-Arm Centipede Giraffe mini-boss. Find the hole in the floor and drop down into it. Crouch and walk down that pathway until you reach what looks like a dead-end overlooking a big chasm. Look up and to the left and you’ll see a point you can latch onto with your grappling hook. Pull yourself up there, and then immediately turn around. You’ll see a beam above and in the distance that you can also latch onto if you jump out towards it. Keep moving in that direction with your grappling hook until you reach a pit that has the telltale lights of three items at its bottom. Jump into that pit, kill the enemies down there, and then grab the items, one of which is a prayer bead.
To get the other 29 prayer beads, you’ll have to beat mini-bosses throughout the game. Some of them are optional, so if you want to max out your health you’ll have to seek out some challenging fights that you could otherwise avoid. Here’s a full list of the game’s mini-bosses, split up by location. Paste will have some pointers on how to handle all of them soon.
Ashina Elite Jinsuke Saze
General Kuranosuke Matsumoto
Lone Shadow Longswordsman
Seven Ashina Spears Shikibu Toshikatsu Yamauchi
Ashina Castle while it’s being besieged:
The Chained Ogre
Lone Shadow Masanaga the Spear-bearer
Lone Shadow Vilehand
Ashina Castle after it’s on fire:
Ashina Elite Ujinari Mizou
Seven Ashina Spears Shume Masaji Oniwa
The Headless Ape gives you two, but you can’t fight it until you’ve beaten the Guardian Ape in the Sunken Valley Passage
O’Rin of the Water
Snake Eyes Shirahagi
Tokujiro the Glutton
General Naomori Kawarada
Ashina Outskirts when it’s on fire:
Shigekichi of the Red Guard
Okami Leader Shizu
Sakura Bull of the Palace
Hirata Estate, first memory:
Juzou the Drunkard
Shinobi Hunter Enshen of Misen
Hirata Estate, second memory
Juzou the Drunkard—second fight
Lone Shadow Masanaga the Spear-bearer
Senpou Temple, Mt. Kongo:
The Armored Warrior
Long Arm Centipede Sen-Un
Long Arm Centipede Giraffe
Snake Eyes Shirafuji