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This Tough Boss-Rush RPG Levels You Down Before Fighting a Boss

This Tough Boss-Rush RPG Levels You Down Before Fighting a Boss
From IGN - February 12, 2018
By Chloi Rad

Even though playing Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption can sometimes feel as awkward as its lengthy title is to say, the upcoming boss-rush action-RPG has potential thanks to an unforgiving level down system, which has you constantly juggling different strengths and weaknesses with each new battle. Pretty much everything you need to know about the look, tone, and themes of Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is right there in the title too. Its dark. It has religious undertones. Sacrifices will be made, and you will be redeemed for them. But despite a cool core idea, the execution of its early stages feels flat.

Sinner starts out in a gray, dreary hub world lined with rune-encrusted stones. With its almost cartoonishly-proportioned hero decked out in plate armor and a stub-horned helmet, the first impression I got in my hands-on demo was Demons Souls for Kidsa gloomy, Gothic take on medieval Europe with slightly more rounded edges. But no matter how cute its stylized little knight might be, Sinner is certainly not playing around.

Each time you fight a boss, accessible via the stones in the hub world, it asks you to make a sacrifice, but the choice of what to sacrifice isnt up to you. Taking on The Greed of Faiz Tilus, a teleporting, scythe-wielding crow demon, slashes a chunk off your health and stamina meters. Gluttonous Camber Luce, who dominates the Frozen Sea with two massive dual machetes, nerfs your healing rate and reduces health potions. The head-swapping, razor-skirted Envious Levin Undok limits your consumable items, like long-range electric spears, fire pots, and elemental buffs, which otherwise refill between battles.

With each boss I slayed, I received a boost in health, and its "essence" oozed out from the stone and into a dark pool in the middle of the hub world. My debuff was, it seems, permanent. For my demo, I opted to fight Levin Undok first, since I knew Id have the best chance of learning the ropes and actually surviving with my character at his most functional. By the time I fought the third and final boss in my demo build (though there is supposedly a fourth I was mysteriously unable to access, even after completing all three in a row), my character was weaker than when I first started, but my own improved skills rewardingly offset the disadvantages.

Since Sinner doesnt have minor enemies to fight between its major battles, youre forced to learn the ins and outs of its combat during these exacting boss fights. Its similarity to Dark Souls-style combat will make this simple enough for some players, but its straightforward enough for everyone else too. You have a light attack, a heavy attack, a charged version of the heavy attack, and variations on each if you execute them mid-sprint. In the build I played, I started out with a standard longsword and shield pairing and a wave-bladed greatsword that can only be used two-handedaccording to its Steam page, you will unlock more as the game goes on. Blocking or parrying with the shield and taking advantage of your dodge rolls invincibility frames are the best defense you have other than sprinting for dear life away from its projectile-loving early bosses.

Where Sinner falls flattest is in the actual feel of its combat. Unlike its obvious inspirations, Sinner feels awkwardly floaty and light. Theres a noticeable weight missing from your attacks, blocks, and parries, which makes adapting to the rhythm or flow of the fight less satisfying. Minimal and sometimes non-existent visual or audial feedback for taking damage makes fights even harder to adequately process. It might be unfair to hold Sinner up to the standards set by its influences, but what it feels like now is a stripped down take on Dark Souls-style melee with none of the spirit or force that makes that combat so dynamic.

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