A game about cleansing yourself by seeking redemption by defeating a physical form of the seven deadly sins should, justifiably, be a challenge, and that’s exactly what Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is. This gruelling boss-rush battle against over-the-top and brilliantly design bosses kept handing it to me over and over again. But despite having to continuously pick myself up and dust my armour off, I relished the opportunity to prove victorious over every one of the grotesque sins, all the way up to the slightly disappointing finale.
Now, you don’t have to look at Sinner for two long to instantly make the comparison to Dark Souls, not just in gameplay but also in its visual setting. And let’s not beat around the bush, the game is a strict souls-like, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If anything, Sinner takes some of the best parts of both Dark Souls and Bloodborne and delivers them in a no-nonsense boss-rush game – which works very well.
Overall there are eight bosses to take down, the seven deadly sins and a final boss, but more on them later. The bosses that represent the different sins are some of the best-designed bosses I’ve seen in a long time. Not because of their unique mechanics or overcomplicated design, but simply how well they play into their sinful persona; Angronn who represents wrath is intimidating oversized and threatens you with slow but devastating attacks, whereas Chanel who represents Lust moves with a delicate type of grace and is devastatingly swift. Every time I stepped into a new atonement for the first time I looked forward to seeing what carefully created monstrosity waited for me on the other side. I’m pleased to say that I was never disappointed with the physical form of any of the deadly sins, each offered a completely new approach to take them down, well, all but the final encounter.
I don’t want to delve into any spoilers here so I’ll tread carefully. Once you’ve defeated the deadly sins you open up the opportunity to take on one final challenge. There’s no denying that this final challenge is the most challenging, but unlike its counterparts, this isn’t due to well-designed attacks that need to precision to evade or an array of great looking animations you’ll need to learn. Instead, it’s simply because this boss continuously spams attack, they literally have no set pattern to learn. Now, if your thinking, well, it is the final boss, then, of course, I expected a tougher challenge, but what was so refreshing about the previous fights was how the game gave you everything to succeed, death was on you and only you. The final encounter seems to forget that and goes for a more ‘gung-ho’ approach, which ultimately meant that when I did defeat the final boss it felt more down to luck rather than skill, leaving a slightly sour taste in my mouth.
Now, enough on the final boss and potentially the only real flaw in the game. As I previously mentioned, all the sinful bosses are truly brilliant, hard, but brilliant. Despite their excellent design, they are not the stars of the show here, that comes down to the extremely tight gameplay. It’s no secret that so many games have tried to use the soul-like gameplay to create a challenge, and too often the true challenge lies in the poor controls or combat design. This is why it made me so happy the moment I realised developers Dark Star had absolutely nailed the gameplay mechanics; sidestepping is smooth and responsive, your shield blocks front-end attacks when needed and the evasive roll, well, simply perfection. An example of this is when fighting the disgusting Gluttony you’ll need to get close to evade their seriously powerful attacks, the hitboxes are that well designed that a perfectly timed roll will beautifully slip under the monsters arm and provide you with a perfect punishing opportunity.
This thoughtful design extends to almost all areas of the game, which is a great thing given the growing difficulty with every boss you defeat. To open up a portal to one of the sins you’ll need to make a sacrifice, these include collapsing when your stamina runs out, slower attack speed and loss of life. Defeating a boss will reward you with an increase in overall vitality, but won’t return your previous sacrifice. This ultimately results in you having to adapt to your new settings, fewer spears and bombs will result in you having to get close and personal, whereas collapsing when exhausted will mean you’ll have to be extra-carful with your stamina bar. Despite these sacrifices clearly making the next encounter that little bit harder, they never quite made the next fight unachievable.
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. From the word go the game provides you with everything you need to seek redemption against the wonderfully design sinful bosses. Unfortunately, the final encounter isn’t as excited as the journey to get there, but nether-the-less, seeking redemption in Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is a gruelling quest that I thoroughly enjoyed.