There is a fine line between a game being challenging and a game being cheesy. Sin Slayers, unfortunately, crosses that line, making for a rather frustrating playthrough. There are flashes of brilliance in the game, from levels being suited to each particular sin, to a soundtrack that manages to keep you invested in the game; but when it starts to feel like a gamble at crucial times, victories don’t feel earned, and losses are hard to swallow.
Run, Sinner Man
The premise of the game leaves you in a land that is bereft of much hope, one that is ruled by the 7 Lords of Sin, namely the 7 deadly sins from Christian teachings. You gather a group of heroes and fight through each land, trying to find a way out of the cursed place. Each dungeon is procedurally created each time you enter, making every runthrough a unique experience. Within, you fight your way through monsters, skirt deadly traps, and find altars that power your heroes up temporarily until you find the boss of the dungeon. Each land comes with two different pathways; the first leads to the Sin’s Lieutenant, whom you have to defeat before a second pathway opens that leads to the actual Lord of Sin.
Enemies within each dungeon correspond with some aspect to the sin of the land; Pigs that serve the Lord of Gluttony, or Knights and Templars that serve the Lord of Pride. Also, using certain menu options, like eating in the Land of Gluttony, would increase your Sin meter, causing certain field effects to occur once milestones on the Sin meter is reached. Effects include stronger enemies or bosses but lead to increased loot gains. It is a balancing act that needs to be kept in check, where having too much sin might cause the cons to outweigh the pros.
Battles are basically a series of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ games, where weaknesses are exploited again and again. Granted, you do have to find out what the enemy’s weaknesses are, but once you do, exploiting them over and over starts to make the gameplay feel a little stale and repetitive. Every character also has a mechanic called ‘Rage’ and building it up allows the characters to use more powerful attacks. New abilities are unlocked by using gems of knowledge, which gives characters more choices on the battlefield. One fun thing about combat though is the environment, where there are clickable objects that can give you items, should you be lucky enough. That, however, does play back into the whole gamble mechanic, which then starts to feel hit or miss.
There are 10 different heroes to choose from in the game to make up your party. They can be split up into three distinct classes: The wise, the strong and the dexterous. The wise consist of your mages, the strong are your tanks and the dexterous are the main damage dealers. You can mix and match your party members however you wish, but after a while it became clear that certain members are more indispensable than others once enemies start getting stronger.
There are so many elements in this game, including crafting, bounty hunting, and side quests to fill your time. While this can be a welcome distraction, oftentimes I found those elements to be irrelevant since many items that can be found on the field are craftable, rendering one or another service useless. Bounties also offer so little that fulfilling them really does nothing to justify them.
Time to see and hear those burning
Graphics are what passes for the norm nowadays, as indie games are going back to their 2D roots. Sprites look distinct from each other, although some monsters are clearly facsimiles of their other incarnations, just with a few added spikes and colour changes. Each character sprite clearly is unique from one another, and the artists have done their best to differentiate each world. From forests to graveyards, from cities to castles, each world feels different, and in a good way. However, as you start to progress further, some map art starts to look a little similar, like those between Pride and Greed.
The audio portions of this game does a good job. Atmospheric music that lulled me into its world, and heart pumping ones that made me want to fight my battles as slowly as I could so that I could savour every note. Skills and weapon hits sound suitably hefty, with the exception of a few here and there, but on the whole, a really solid piece of work. There are definitely some sound effects that could have been used in circumstances, but it did not take me out of the experience.
There was one major issue to note though. The game gives the player subtitles during cutscenes; however, on occasion, whatever is on screen does not correspond with what is being said, which can be a jarring experience. That completely took me out of the game, and struggled to pull me back in to care or pay attention to future cutscenes. If the subtitles had just coincided with what was said, it would have been a great experience, and this feels like such a wasted opportunity since a lot of the story is expounded in those cutscenes.