Sinner Sacrifice for Redemption Review – Sacrificing Everything?
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Dark Star
Publisher: Another Indie
Release: 16th/18th October 2018 (PC over Discord / Consoles)
Sinner Sacrifice for Redemption caught my interest back at the beginning of the year, originally slated to release then. However, a big delay later, here we are, it´s releasing on all platforms and even became an exclusive title for Discord´s new store. Is this promising boss rush title worth your time and money then? Well, yeah, kinda!
Without much story, we´re thrown into the world as a nameless soldier, venturing forth to slay the kings and idols of a long gone era. Yet, they resist with all their might, demand parts of our strength to enter their realm, and so with every sacrifice, we may come closer to our goal but in the end, will it be enough?
Obviously, Sinner Sacrifice for Redemption is heavily inspired by Dark Souls both in setting and storytelling, relying on cryptic poems before every boss, to tell their stories. Since it´s not a particularly long game though, much of its tales are swallowed by the limited space to actually tell them. As a result, many of them are either pretty unsurprising, bland or simply so straightforward that they feel out of line. Though it´s one of the tiniest parts of this game, I still felt like it needed to be pointed out.
During the whole game, you won´t do anything else than fight the handful of bosses. Accessed through a “hub world”, each of them asks for a sacrifice before you can fight them, ranging from reduced health or items to new mechanics like exhaustion. Unfortunately, that´s also one of my biggest problems with Sinner Sacrifice for Redemption, it doesn´t feel good nor necessary to weaken the player. Since we come equipped with two swords, four items and a little auto health regeneration, it feels like we already have everything useful and valuable in our possession, so the game has to forcefully create this illusion of becoming stronger.
After slaying a boss, they grant nothing than more than increasing numbers. So I often wondered, why they didn´t just take away things like the greatsword and use them a trophy for slaying those tough enemies, removing the need for sacrifices at the same time. In a such a Dark Souls/boss rush game, the player is weaker than the others already, so why make it worse by forcefully punishing him for fighting? It just feels so forced, that it was a sign of mediocre game design in my eyes, rather than a unique twist on the “genre”.
Now let´s talk about the meat of Sinner Sacrifice for Redemption: The combat. Basically, the whole game consists of several boss arenas, with nothing in-between, making this very thing the core of the game. Similar to the Souls games, we´re equipped with two weapon configuration (shield and sword/greatsword) and several items like healing potions or firebombs, in order to grant you a chance against the powerful foes. Naturally, all of them have unique moves and traits too! For example, the king of a past empire is guarded by dozens of soldiers, while summoning more and more during the fight, while the shaman is attacking with poison and dark magic.
The game does a surprisingly great job at delivering unique, diverse boss fights since none really feels the same. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay feel is somewhat of a mixed feeling. Due to the fact, it aims for a high difficulty, bosses have huge health bars, devastating attacks and the overall challenge is high as ever. In exchange, the player has to feel like the whole underlying mechanics don´t put him at an even greater disadvantage through delayed executions. On the one hand, most of the time, attacks feel sharp, responsive and fast, making it a pretty enjoyable title, even parrying works like a charm. On the other hand, occasional dodges in-between attacks or the overall running speed of our figure tends to feel slow or even sluggish if executed too fast. Overall, it´s a surprisingly good experience with only rare interruptions, honestly.
This two-sided trend continues in the overall boss design since pretty much all of them offer neat designs and ideas, as well as the difficulty to carry a whole game with only eight of them. The king or princess, in particular, is really cool to fight, mainly because they make can execute their ideas really well, without ever feeling unfair. Unfortunately, there also are your fair share of mediocre bosses among them, that suffer from confusing mechanics, like moves that let them jump out of your camera lock and screen, without enough visual input to actively guess their next point of landing, making those moments more of a chore than anything else.
Another thing I never quite understood where the arrows and bombs, since they exist from the start and honestly deal a surprising amount of damage for just being there. It´s possible to deplete half a boss’s health bar when you hit all of them, a task not too difficult considering their fast animations. They almost feel a bit too powerful for being part of your everyday inventory and the only reason I can think of is that they can make fights a whole lot easier … I don´t know. Maybe it´s just me, but they feel so unnecessary in such a minimalistic boss rush title.
Otherwise, Sinner Sacrifice for Redemption is also a damn great looking title for an indie title aiming for a more visually impressive style. While the textures and environments may not be impressive by themselves, the really detailed models for both the player and bosses, combined with the vast amount of lightning effects from time to time, can create quite the spectacle. Given, sometimes the restrictions begin to show when they tried to animate thunder and ended up with little electric beams wandering the ground but overall, it looks good, really good. Animations are fluid, most attacks have a long enough wind-up, the designs are diverse and the whole colour palette doesn´t only vary between the arenas but also creates this bleak atmosphere. Even though I would´ve wished for a better performance than 4K@30-40fps with a GTX1070, it runs well enough.
Honestly, Sinner Sacrifice for Redemption is a pretty good game. Naturally, it has some of the flaws many would expect from an indie game tackling this structure, has a bit too much going on to reach Furi´s heights of greatness and isn´t a totally round product. Still, I enjoyed this trip, because the very core mechanics work great and can overshadow many of those flaws, creating a worthwhile boss rush experience for the price.
[A Review Code was provided by Another Indie]