SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption wears its influences on its sleeve. Feeling both aesthetically and tonally like a FromSoftware game, SINNER borrows heavily from both the Souls series and Bloodborne, restricting it from truly establishing its distinct sense of world or lore. However the eight battles which make up SINNER’s boss-rush style format are creative, varied, and challenging, making this succinct experience feel like a distillation of the Souls series’ notoriously difficult, multi-tiered boss encounters.
The titular act of sacrifice functions as the game’s most original concept. From your hub world, each boss lies behind a gateway, but the opening of these portals requires an offering. Whether restricting your inventory space or decreasing your total stamina and vitality, this leveling down mechanic ups the challenge with each subsequent boss, adding a Mega-Man-esque tactical element to the order in which you chose to face them. While your ever-penalised character build increases the difficulty of these already challenging battles, unlockable stat enhancements, rewarded for defeating a boss, provide some balance. A New Game Plus mode, which yields a new arsenal of weapons, paired with a comprehensive trophy list that rewards creative play, adds life to this brief experience.
Based upon the seven deadly sins, each boss has a unique look and combat style which provide a showcase for some of the game’s most inventive touches. Camber Luce, the embodiment of gluttony, is a hulking beast with a mouth in his belly who fights you on a frozen lake. As your battle progresses the ice begins to fall away, decreasing the arena area and allowing him to escape into the waters below, only to reappear with devastating force. Meanwhile, the slothful Yordo hides behind his legion of soldiers, with them doing the majority of the fighting for him, encircling him in a phalanx formation and rushing you in a charge of spears.
These battles are diverse and excellently designed with the learning of attack patterns and effective use of inventory and stamina vital to success. Those that enjoy the closely matched dance of Souls combat will enjoy the deep, yet streamlined combat at play here, although the punishing difficulty level may put some off.
SINNER’s art design imbues these bosses with presence, whether due to sheer size, in the case of Angronn or Rhodes, or the intricate detail of Levin Indox’s shimmering metal dress or Camber Luce’s glistening belly mouth. Some of these boss designs are truly inspired and several surprises as these fights progress keep both the visual spectacle and combat fresh and exhilarating.
The tilt-shift effect of the game’s camera keeps the focus on the action of the battle and gives the whole game an odd dream-like quality, although this blurring effect can prove distracting and ugly at times. Unfortunately the game’s presentation is inconsistent, with the majority of environments being dull, empty battle arenas, while some uninspired, overly derivative boss designs and flat textures also hamper the experience.
The Souls-lite nature of the game’s boss only battles greatly limits its story and lore. Exposition establishes that player character Adam, an armoured grey humanoid with glowing eyes, has committed great sin and thus must seek redemption, but beyond this there is little narrative development. Without an overworld to flesh out or give deeper context to Adam’s story or the sinful bosses, this story feels overly simple and shallow. Each boss is prefaced with a contextualising cutscene, but these brief tales are more isolated vignettes of generic dark fantasy tropes rather than a coherent, cohesive narrative.
SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption is full of ideas, both frustratingly derivative and wondrously original. Its boss-centric structure is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness, providing a compelling proof of concept for a streamlined Souls game with daunting bosses and crushing, tactical combat. However, this leaves the game bereft of much needed world building and story substance.
For those seeking demanding combat and a gauntlet of diverse, creative boss battles, SINNER holds a lot to enjoy, but those looking for rich lore or a compelling story to invest in will be left disappointed.
SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption
SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption borrows heavily from its primary inspiration, the Souls series, by distilling the formula into a gauntlet of punishingly challenging boss battles. While some excellently designed battles, inspired art design, and unique mechanics, like the leveling down system, keep this concise experience exciting, shallow story elements paired with inconsistent presentation leave this Souls-lite boss-a-thon lacking.
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Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.