Title: Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption
Developer: Dark Star
Release Date: October 18, 2018
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Another Indie
Nobody’s perfect. Depending on one’s beliefs, we are all capable of committing sins or wrongdoings. Chances are, you’ve had a couple of conscience merry-go-rounds where you’ve tried to determine what is right and wrong. The beauty — and at times, the difficult — part of being human is that we have the power to make decisions and fix mistakes that forge multiple paths we can take in life.
In Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption, there is only one path to take… This quote from John Owen, who was an English church leader and theologist back in the 1600’s, gives you a better idea of what that path is in Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption: “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” This straightforward approach makes the game riveting from beginning to end, but the approach also adds some prosaic game elements.
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is the first game developed by Dark Star, an indie studio based in Shanghai, China. If you’ve seen the game’s trailers and screenshots, I’m sure you quickly realized that it’s heavily inspired by the ‘Souls’ series. While the game does share some striking similarities to those popular games from From Software, it actually is more in-line with games like Titan Souls and Furi since it’s an indie boss battler. If you can look past its rugged presentation, you’ll end up having a challenging and enjoyable time taking on Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption’s thrilling boss fights.
In Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption, you play as a lone warrior (whose name is revealed towards the end of the game), who doesn’t remember his past. We’re only told that the warrior comes from the Kingdom of Cavanis, a kingdom that’s engulfed in complete doom and gloom. Now, however, he mysteriously ends up in wretched place with seven large stones — each stone contains an epic boss character that’s based on one of the seven deadly sins (pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth). To unlock the protagonist’s memories, you must face the incarnation of his greatest sins in hopes to attain complete redemption.
The story is told through a few vague and quick lines of dialogue and introductory cutscenes. While this does add a general sense of lore, it’s difficult to get a true understanding of the silent protagonist — perhaps this was the developer’s intention. While the storytelling in Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is more of an afterthought, it’s boss fights that definitely take the center stage.
Unlike most games where you level up as much as possible before fighting a boss, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption has a vastly different approach that makes boss fights even more difficult. Right before you take on a boss, you’re forced to sacrifice an ability or power that basically levels you down rather than up. For instance, before fighting, Greedy Faiz Tilus (Greed), your health and stamina are decreased quite a bit.
Other bosses can cause healing restrictions, item loss, and other debuffs, which make each fight more challenging than the last. Not only that but in order to fight the last boss, you’ll have to suffer debuffs from the previous seven bosses. Thankfully, after taking down each boss, you receive a slight health boost, which is helpful. The sacrifice mechanic is not only interesting, to say the least, but it adds a significant level of strategy and makes Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption stand out from the games that it’s inspired by.
Due to the sacrifice mechanic, you’ll have to make some tough decisions like which penalties will affect you the most, and which bosses to fight first — this was especially the case in my first playthrough. With plenty of debuffs already, I took on Levin Undok, a strange head-swapping, a razor-gowned boss who has two forms — an ax and dagger throwing form and a deadly thunder attack form called Levin Indok — which you end having to fight both at once. After getting destroyed over 15 times, I decided to remove one of my penalties in order to defeat Levin once and for all. The sacrifice mechanic can lead to plenty of great “what have I done?” moments.
The penalties are important to keep in mind and are challenging, but the bosses will take the most brain power. Instead of slashing away at bosses with not a care in the world, you must rely on strategy, perfect timing, and true grit to survive the boss fights in Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption. Failure to do so will cause you to die — time and time again. With only two weapons to start with (a short sword and shield and a two-handed massive sword), along with a few items — electric spears, a healing lantern-like item, explosive pots, and an item that turns your sword into a flame sword — in your arsenal, it’s vital to use items only when need be. While the boss stages are nothing to write home about, they present a few difficult obstacles, and each boss is wonderfully designed in terms of how they look and how they fight.
All of the bosses in Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption have unique attacks that you have to watch out for — a few of the attacks are even unblockable. Relying on the same tactics you used in a previous fight will most likely lead to your demise. During each duel, you’ll find opportune moments to strike, boss weaknesses to exploit, and attacks that destroy you in a flash. Having to adjust your playstyle for each boss makes the Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption such a thrilling and satisfying experience.
There are a couple of rough spots in Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption, though. During my time with the game, I ran into framerate drops, text errors (Wrathful Angronn’s location was in, what I’m assuming to be, Chinese), and music tracks would all of a sudden cut off and loop-back randomly. Also, some of the boss hit-boxes and projectile attacks are frustrating to deal with. Given that this is developer’s first game, it’s understandable that there are some errors, but hopefully, they’ll be able to resolve them via a patch.
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is a diamond in the rough. It’s tough yet satisfying combat and bosses are a treat, but it does suffer from a lack of polish with its overall presentation. Thanks to eight skillfully crafted and brutal bosses that make some epic fights, along with an interesting gameplay mechanic that makes the game even more challenging — it’s not a deadly sin to play Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption.
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