Yes, indeed, it is called SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption
Anyone who knows me, and complete strangers that overhear me screaming Dark Souls praises from rooftops, will know what a massive fan of the Dark Souls series (not you Dark Souls 2, sit down) and soulslike games I am. So it’s pretty obvious that when I saw the trailer for SINNER – Sacrifice for Redemption my interest was going to be piqued!
Now I think it’s fair to say that SINNER is taking more than a few notes of Dark Souls rulebook, the second controller preset is literally just the Dark Souls controls, but rather than trying to capture everything that makes the souls series special and possibly not pulling it all off, SINNER just takes one aspect and makes it as perfect as possible that being the boss fights.
All bosses, all the time!
SINNER’s gameplay is literally just constant boss fights. After a very short tutorial your player character is left in area surrounded by stone portals, each leading to a unique boss fight.
The boss rush aspect means that you can get straight into the action without having to do time draining boss runs to actually get to the challenge which is really ideal for the Switch as a portable console. Although I will say it is much better suited to be played on the big screen, it by no means runs any worse in hand held mode. It does however reduce your field of view which can cause problems against certain bosses.
Equipped with a short, quick sword, a big, slow sword, a shield and a handful healing items and projectiles, SINNER gives you a tool box full of tools from the start and no option to customise the player character in anyway. You have to learn how to use these tool for maximum effect and I really enjoyed that. There’s no pondering on what build you want your character to be, no hunting for specific weapons and levelling them up. Here’s what we’ve given you now go out there a kill you some bosses! Of course as soon as you starting getting comfortable with your toys. SINNER starts taking them away from you.
I grow weaker…
The bosses can be fought in any order but before challenging them you must sacrifice a part of your power, ranging from taking a hit to health and stamina or losing some of your consumable items, even having your shield shatter if you rely on blocking too much. As everyone knows however, if you’re blocking, you’re losing. It’s a great twist on the standard formula of becoming more powerful and fighting stronger enemies with more hit points, in SINNER the bosses, for the most part, are about the same strength and difficulty, the problem is you’re character is getting weaker after every success.
You can get this power back, but that means resurrecting the boss that took it away in the first place which causes an interesting dynamic to occur. Having trouble with one of the bosses and thinking that those extra items would be helpful, you’re welcome to get them back, but we warned you’ll have to re-kill the boss that stole power from you and now because of other bosses taking more away from you that’s gonna be a lot trickier than before.
Now of course if a game is only proposing one type of gameplay it really needs to have it down. Does SINNER pull of the tight, fluid combat that so many soulslike games (Lords of the Fallen I’m looking at you) have gotten wrong?
Yes, yes it does. Oh boy does it!
Get good scrub
It’s the standard stamina management is completely key type affair, but done absolutely flawlessly, the dodge roll rewards just the right amount of invulnerable frames, the weapons attack with the speed you expect and the hit boxes feel accurate and fair. Nothing feels worse in challenging games like this than unfair deaths due to either artificial difficulty or badly design bosses. SINNER boasts neither. Most deaths are pretty much going to be the players own fault for not reading a bosses attack correctly, or not paying heed to the great overlord that is the stamina bar. Or worse, getting greedy!
Design-wise it’s a pretty generic dark fantasy type affair but the boss rooms and bosses themselves are interesting enough to incite you into seeing just what is going to come next, especially given that there isn’t particularly much of a story going on giving you no real motivation on why you have to be fighting these bosses in the first place.
And that’s the main draw that kept me fighting these bosses over and over again, the thrill of learning bosses attacks and how to accurately counter them is a truly addictive and empowering experience. That run where you finally put all your knowledge of your enemies attacks and the areas hazards to perfect use and finally put them down, that’s a special kind of elation.
SINNER is a very coherent homage to the Dark Souls series whilst not trying too hard to copy every aspect of it, the uniqueness it brings to the table with taking powers away rather than granting new boons is a very interesting feature and I hope to see it being used more in the future.
For fans of the Soulslike games, this is a great addition to the collection, offering tight combat and serious challenges to tide us all over until Bloodborne 2! (I’m forever hopeful.)
- Tight and fluid combat
- Unique ind fun boss fights
- Interesting sacrifice mechanic
- Feeling like an absolute god when finally succeeding
- Generic design choices
- Some FOV issues in handheld mode