Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption (Xbox One) Review

By Albert Lichi 23.10.2018 5

Review for Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption on Xbox One

The breakout hit that is the Dark Souls franchise (spawning from Demon's Souls) redefined the way developers approach action RPGs. Suddenly, gamers everywhere found themselves doing corpse-runs, using shoulder buttons to swing melee weapons, and cursing developers for absurd difficulty. Even 2D indie games started to lift the From Software formula and it basically became a meme whenever inarticulate game journalists would refer to anything slightly challenging as the "Dark Souls of X." Between the cyberpunk take with The Surge and even a feudal era Ni-Oh, there is likely no way the train is stopping anytime soon. Enter Darkstar Games, a mysterious Chinese developer made up of a handful of programmers and artists who sought to take the "soulslike" sub-genre and turn it on its head with Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption.

Of all the From Software "soulslikes" and imitators, there is still nothing quite like Demon's Souls. It was unique for emphasising on crafting an experience instead of constantly trying to top itself with harder bosses who all require similar strategy. Many may consider it a gimmick, but it was what helped everyone fall in love with souls in the first place. Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is similar in that is also focuses on an experience but goes about it in an entirely novel and risky way.

It would be easy to assume that this is going to be a Chinese knock-off of Demon's Souls. Many of the character animations even look suspiciously similar. For one, this is a boss-rush game with only eight bosses and no actual levels to explore or plunder. Secondly, there is no RPG character building mechanics - only character destruction. Sinner is not going to be for everyone, most Dark Souls fans included. This is a game that goes against what most people want in an action RPG and that is character growth and progression. Instead of growing more and more powerful with experience with every enemy defeated, Adam the protagonist gets increasingly more battered and beaten down. Realistically, this is probably what it would be like if a warrior, armed to the teeth, fought these abhorrent abominations. Fighting any of these bosses, each of which represents one of the seven deadly sins, requires Adam to give something up; it can be a permanent reduction of HP or stamina to weakening weapons. No matter what, Adam has to make a terrible decision in order to progress and that is the experience of Sinner.

Screenshot for Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption on Xbox One

Being a boss-rush game where the protagonist only gets weaker is a hard sell for people expecting this to be an epic adventure. Sinner ends up having more in common with something like Cuphead. It is mostly made up of boss fights and is extremely difficult. Traditionally, "soulslikes" get easier with more progress thanks to upgrades, stat boosts, and an increasingly more powerful selection of abilities. Sinner only gets harder and harder to a crushingly gut-wrenchingly pace with every boss defeated. Usually, a victory comes with a huge wave of relief. Sacrifice for Redemption's victories are felt with a palpable sense of dread and inevitability as the next battle will begin in minutes, where the terrifying pressure and sweat-inducing tension will start all over again. This is the experience Darkstar Games wants people to pay their hard earned money on.

After coming to terms with the inevitable destruction of the player's avatar and adopting a fiercely spartan mentality, Sinner shines. Darkstar likely did not have a lot to work with, but what it does manage looks striking and obviously inspired by Demon's Souls. The sin bosses have some intricate character designs and prove to have their own utilities that may not be apparent upon initial inspection. There is a surprising amount of interactivity with these heavies that even From Software has not even considered, like how large slow projectiles can be parried back. Sinner is still not above being cheap and unfair; certain bosses have a one-hit kill move that they save until a certain phase, which can be a good way to waste players' time. Sure, it may look cool and teach a lesson... but to introduce an insta-death attack after fighting for 20 minutes can be extremely discouraging. There are some unusual artistic quirks, like how human characters have proportions that make them resemble children instead of adults. The choice is weird and may not make much sense, but after a while it does add to the flavour and makes Sinner stand out from all the other copycats.

After it is all over, Sinner proves just how sadistic it can be by introducing the appropriately named "Nightmare Mode." This is not for the faint of heart and is almost laughable in how absurdly hard it is. Outside of a couple of unlockable boss weapons, there is not much else as far as content goes. The narrative Darkstar Games aims for is one about cycles and repetition, which feeds into the New Game Plus. The issue is that there are just not enough bosses to go around to mix things up. Even the achievements are designed to be anti-achievements since how a majority of them are earned by failing under certain conditions. A player who has the fewest achievements with a completed game file is how to measure a true master of combat. This kind of bizarre and intentional design is what makes Sinner: Sacrifice For Redemption so fun to play.

Screenshot for Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is an experiment that was inevitable. Somebody was going to eventually make a boss-rush anti-soulslike, and Darkstar Games did a great job realising the potential by perverting traditional RPG character building and betraying achievement conventions. It may wear the skin of a "soulslike," but in actuality there really is nothing quite like it. With an unbelievably high difficulty, and with a small pool of unique bosses, Sinner has cult gem written all over it, and only those who desire something totally different should even dare take this challenge.




Another Indie





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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   


Favorite boss?

Can't a fella drink in peace?


Same here

Can't a fella drink in peace?

i have a feeling her design was heavily inspired from that queen with detachable heads from the Wizard of Oz sequel that came out in the 80s.

what an incredible battle.

Insanoflex said:

what an incredible battle.

Those damn chandeliers, though... arghhh!

Can't a fella drink in peace?

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