This title was reviewed on PS4, but is also available on PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
The first time I heard of Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption was in a gameplay video, and I have to admit that I was quite interested. It was very obviously inspired by Dark Souls in its core gameplay, but it seemed like it had a faster pace, which could make the game more challenging and satisfying as a result. Unfortunately, Sinner ends up falling flat for multiple reasons that we will explore together.
Starting up the game confirmed my expectation: it is faster than your average Souls game. It also uses the core of that classic recipe that made these games so famous: Light/Heavy attacks, stamina use, limited healing options, and hard-hitting enemies. Sinner is significantly different in the sense that it’s not an RPG at all, there is no XP, character build customization, a thing that frankly limits the interest of mimicking the Souls‘ gameplay. On top of that, there is barely any feedback on the hits you land, it feels like the characters puts no weight in their hits and there’s no impact as a result; this overall makes the combat weak and unrewarding. The control scheme also is kinda weird and since there is no explanation for it, you’re most likely going to waste some items in the process of figuring it out.
Another thing that differentiates Sinner from the Souls games is the way it’s structured. Instead of being an open world game, it’s a linear boss fighter. This isn’t a wrong design choice by itself, but I keep on asking myself, if you’re going to remove the open world, the level design, the customization and RPG aspects that are key to the Souls formula, why would you keep its way of handling combat? To me, it simply doesn’t work because this gameplay feels like it only works when paired with at least a couple of those elements. The combat could’ve redeemed itself if the bosses were done right, and unfortunately, they’re just okay. The lack of feedback and impact make these fights more of a chore than an epic battle.
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption has one strength: it has a strong, unique visual identity. There’s an eerie ambience that invades the game and helps with immersion, and sometimes even manages to cover up some of the issues with the game; it also gives motivation and curiosity to the player, you will want to see what’s next. It really hurts me to say that even though the art direction is unique, there were moments where it got really hurt by the technical weaknesses of the game. The most explicit example is the first boss, this monster has an attack during which he throws eyes at you. And those eyes look embarrassingly bad, breaking the immersion for a moment.
In the end, Sinner isn’t a bad game, it just suffers from strange design decisions. It can still be a decently enjoyable experience, but it will never be anything more than that. It might be a bit memorable thanks to its aesthetic, but replicating the Souls combat was really hard to pull off, and at the same time, in my opinion, a very poor decision. I can understand the intent behind that choice, but it doesn’t really work in the end. Still, Sinner functions well, isn’t bugged or unplayable, just flawed.