‘It’s like Dark Souls’ has become a bit of a joke phrase to say amongst gamers in regards to the instant comparisons made to the series whenever any modicum of difficulty is present in a game. A few games are definitely worth the comparison though since it’s made very apparent there is real inspiration taken from the series in its gameplay and mechanics outside of having to think during combat. Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption puts its own spin on Souls-like gameplay.
Sinner is a boss rush game, so no hacking through minions or mini-bosses on your way to the big bad guy just to get slammed into the ground. Outside of the very brief tutorial (right out of a very well done transition from the new game option) you’re not given time to be introduced to anything besides what you have at your disposal. Everything must be learned on the go and there’s more to it than just the attack patterns of the bosses.
Each boss requires a sacrifice that is offered to a stone in the hub area before you go into the fight. What you sacrifice depends on the boss you want to face. For example: one boss might have you sacrifice a portion of your health bar while another takes your armour away so you can only recover health through items. Every sacrifice isn’t permanent however it is if you want to progress. Taking a sacrifice back before defeating a boss won’t matter but taking it back after their defeat will bring them back. Personally I liked the idea of the mechanic but in practice it wasn’t pulled off that well. It felt more like the game was punishing me for progressing and made the game way more frustrating in the way it probably wasn’t intended.
Besides a few buttons being swapped around for the controls and way the game plays is very similar to Dark Souls, even down to a similar UI. A second control scheme does allow an almost identical control scheme for those who are already familiar with the Souls series. There is no inventory system since your equipment is only consists of the two swords, shield, and few consumables you’re given to start with. The consumables refill every time you restart or leave a boss although with the sacrifices you may lose some completely. Rolling, parrying and stamina management are key. Obviously there is the difference of being purely a boss rush and there are no smaller enemies outside of the tutorial and those summoned by bosses.
The bosses themselves are each unique in their designs. Each one is based on one of the seven deadly sins and accompanied by an introductory cutscene that explains who they are and what they did to be associated with that sin. Most of the fights have their own little trick to them but since you have to sacrifice various pieces of equipment and stats, depending on when you face a boss you can but put massively at a disadvantage and this only gets worse the more of them you beat. Every boss has a sort of gimmick that is played in their fights, some of which are quite interesting.
One boss is very standard and coordinated attacks using his minions to attack you whereas others are more creative such as one that carries a second head with her and swaps heads, becoming a different variation of herself. Later on in the fight you have to fight both versions. Another boss feels like she’s straight out of Bloodborne with her fast paced attacks with dual swords, mobility and ranged attacks. Even her setting is very similar to Rom (for those of you that have played Bloodborne) having you fight in a sort of pocket dimension atop a giant lake. She harbours a nice surprise in her multiple phases. After each boss is defeated you get a health boost however your sacrifices always feel like they outweigh the boost in health you get.
Besides a couple of the bosses I felt that a lot of the arenas were very bland and lacked as much thought as the design of the bosses themselves. Besides a couple of the unique arenas such as one in a massive colosseum, another in a sort of distorted ballroom and the giant lake, the other designs felt bland such as a massive underground temple and a massive piece of arctic land where you can’t really judge where you are and hinders the fight since sinkholes open.