Smoke and Sacrifice (PC) Review

By Athanasios 26.06.2018

Review for Smoke and Sacrifice on PC

Smoke and Sacrifice is an indie action RPG that tries to blend together an emotive, dark narrative about a mother who was forced to sacrifice her firstborn child, with the gameplay of an open-world exploration game, and quite the heavy emphasis on crafting. The end result, while evidently a work of a team that respects its craft, is, unfortunately, in terrible need of some balancing and, even worse, completely forgets one of its most crucial elements.

One of the strongest instincts is, surely, the protection of children, something that most people can easily relate to, even if they aren't actually parents themselves. Smoke and Sacrifice takes that, and plays a pretty decent ball game with it in the beginning of this adventure, where a young mother named Sachi is forced by her people to sacrifice her firstborn to the mechanical Sun Tree; the bizarre object that allows the tiny patch of land she lives on to avoid dying from a mysterious blizzard, which seems to have engulfed everything.

Her tale begins from the day this sad exchange will have to be made, and where she will get to learn that there's a high chance her son is alive. It's a pretty intense intro that makes the player connect with her, wonder what lies behind this whole sacrifice shebang, and, consequently, get immersed into the dark world everything takes place into. Immediately after starting her odyssey, however, everything is thrown out of the window, partly because Sachi instantly turns from a painfully sad character into an unemotional robot that doesn't seem to be affected by what's happening.

Screenshot for Smoke and Sacrifice on PC

The main reason why the story portion is disappointing, however, is probably the major shift in focus at hand, as what started as an actual adventure, ends up being just a game. To be more specific, Smoke and Sacrifice is, above all, a survival title with tons of crafting, and with only a tiny amount of character interaction. Literally from the moment the introductory chapter ends, Sachi will spend the rest of her time finding crafting recipes, gathering resources, and finally crafting the required items... in order to repeat the whole process again, and again, and again.

Therefore, don't come in expecting something other than creating tools that will in turn help you create more tools. Unfortunately, the problems don't stop there. For starters, while this process is somewhat enjoyable, it becomes repetitive way too soon. The main problem, though, is none other than the extremely low durability of crafted objects. Okay, so you have made a net to catch fireflies? Right, have fun with it for about 15 swings or so, before it turns to ash. Made a neat, fully upgraded sword (more like a knife)? It will last for a handful of baddies.

Screenshot for Smoke and Sacrifice on PC

Oh, sure, all items, from tools, to weaponry, can be fixed, but that means that one must always be on the lookout for resources; resources that many times require using some other tools, which, as expected, must also be kept in top shape, too. Long story short, Smoke and Sacrifice is in some terrible need of heavy rebalancing, both in terms of item longevity, as well as the amount of items that are required to create something. Even with those issues taken care of, however, this isn't exactly free of problems.

Traversing this, otherwise, beautifully bleak underworld, is not very exciting, and that has a lot to do with how it feels more like a map where everything has been randomly sprinkled around, with absolutely no carefully hand-crafted points of interest to see. The day/night mechanic (or day/smoke) could help bring some character to it all, as the night supposedly makes things more dangerous, but, in essence, all it takes to survive is to find or craft a light source, which is insanely easy to do, not to mention that the night monsters aren't any more dangerous than the day ones.

Screenshot for Smoke and Sacrifice on PC

For all the flaws this has, though, Smoke and Sacrifice remains a somewhat enjoyable experience - but then comes the fighting business, which destroys everything. Death will show his bony head pretty often, not because this requires skill, though, but due to how aggravatingly clunky and unreliable the battle mechanic is, as it can make players feel as if they are controlling a character that trudges through a river of glue. Couple that with the fact that most enemies are boring damage sponges, and most will actually want to avoid fighting altogether.

Wrapping up, this had potential. It could be a dark-themed, 2.5D version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with far more crafting in it, as well as more story to enjoy. Sadly, the end result is more annoying than fun; first, because of how unbalanced the whole crafting aspect is and, secondly, because of how irritating fighting with monsters is. A rebalancing patch could surely improve things, but, as of now, it seems that this won't happen any time soon. Potential buyers are advised to wait if willing to check this out.

Screenshot for Smoke and Sacrifice on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

It will be hard to remain interested in Smoke and Sacrifice for more than a handful of hours. By then most will realise that what started as an emotive journey, ends up being an endless series of unbalanced crafting, unexciting exploration, and controller-breaking, clunky fighting.

Developer

Solar Sail Games

Publisher

Curve Digital

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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