Title: Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption
Genre: Action Adventure, General
Developer: Another Indie
Publisher: Stride PR
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release: Oct 18, 2018
Remember Dark Souls? I certainly wish I didn’t. What I wouldn’t give to just be able to relive the unprecedented feeling of hesitant discovery that never subsided throughout my entire first play-through. I probably would’ve enjoyed Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption significantly more without prior knowledge of Dark Souls, but Sinner also came out in 2018 - a time in which multiple Dark Souls sequels, a prequel, a spin-off, and countless imitators already existed. This fact makes it all the more obvious that Sinner copies so much from the series it’s based on whole-cloth while not delivering as effectively on various aspects of the games it draws from. It isn’t a bad imitation, but it isn’t very noteworthy either thanks to its lack of innovation or originality in a genre that’s full of other pretenders to the throne.
The Tip and The Top
On paper, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is a fun twist on the soulsborne genre. It’s the same punishing hack-and-slash combat fans love with a different structural twist: you only go up against bosses, and you receive a new debuff before each one. Instead of gaining power with each baddie you best, you’ll be cursed with various ailments such as a smaller health bar or slower stamina replenishment as you begin the next boss. It doesn’t waste time beating around the bush as it unceremoniously plops you straight into your choice of boss to fight after an extremely short initial tutorial sequence. You choose the order in which you face the main seven bosses, so you can leave the ones you’re best at for last when you’re at your weakest. Each fight is preceded by a brief cutscene and transitions are quick which allows you to get right back to the boss-killing action that gets the punishing but fair difficulty right.
As a game that lifts its mechanics straight from Dark Souls, Sinner makes for a fun little challenge that controls quite well. While you’re wailing away on bosses with plentiful health bars, you have responsive command of your character and a dodge roll that feels great to time correctly. Your arsenal consists of a sword and shield, a larger two-handed sword, and throwable fire pots and spears that act as consumable offensive options. Utilizing the shield rewards you for perfectly timed parries while the slower two-handed sword lets you deal some more damage by sacrificing swiftness. It’s the same formula we’ve seen in countless games of this type, but they haven’t screwed it up here.
The boss design in Sinner isn’t too shabby despite its extreme lack of originality. There’s a big lava guy here and a plague doctor there, but no two bosses feel the same and they each inhabit unique albeit small locales. These locations are usually limited little arenas, but the ones that have little quirks are amusing. The aforementioned lava monster smashes the rocks beneath your feet which pushes you further back until your squeezed into a small islet amid the boiling lava beneath. It’s a fun encounter that’s fun to watch unfold, but those creative stage motifs aren’t utilized for most of the game’s small number of boss encounters.
The Flip and The Flop
By directly replicating so much from the Dark Souls series, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption introduces a bevy of issues by adhering to its exclusively boss-focused format. So much of this game is ripped straight from its Souls inspiration - the animations look the same, the health bars are the same, the consumable equipment is the same, your character’s armor is the same, most of the bosses look and behave the same, the general aesthetic is the same - nearly everything is the same, but the game’s structure isn’t. If you’re having trouble on a boss, you can’t better prepare by grinding for higher levels, utilizing more effective equipment, or spelunking for more items - you just have to try and try again until you succeed. There is a distinct lack of player choice or customization here which makes the boss fights feel less special than they would otherwise. When you lose a fight, you get to immediately retry without any penalty which deflates any tension that exists in the small series of encounters. You also can’t pause despite the fact that Sinner is entirely single-player. Why? Because that’s how Dark Souls did it I guess. So much of Sinner feels that way. It is the way it is because that’s how Dark Souls was. They squandered the opportunity to innovate with their novel new structure that was rife with potential.
Final Grade: B-
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is an unabashedly shameless Dark Souls boss rush ripoff. It’s got the genre’s trademark challenge and melee-focused arsenal that isn’t new or interesting, but it gets the job done. At under $20, it hits a value sweet spot - especially for those looking for a little taste of the soulsborne formula without the immensely inaccessible minutia that comes with the genre’s flagship titles. It doesn’t have much of anything to offer those who are content with replaying their franchise favorite, but Sinner does allow for some amusing little souls-inspired boss fights.
Review Code Provide By Stride PR