Why Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Is More Than a Dark Souls Clone

Why Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Is More Than a Dark Souls Clone

Yes Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption looks quite a bit like Dark Souls. Yes the bosses and movesets, weapons, spells all seem like they’re ripped from the embers of Lordran, Drangleic and Lothric. But, what if there’s more to this game than meets the eye? We don’t know incredibly much, but if you look closely, there may be something to this game after all. Let’s take a look at how Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption may be more than just a Dark Souls clone.

Why Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Is More Than a Dark Souls Clone

The Art Direction

Let’s start with the game’s art direction, which for obvious reasons is the first thing we see in the game. It’s clear that the game has taken a visual look and direction that is a departure from the the dark realism of Dark Souls. Initially the character model seems janky, but once you glance through some of the game’s screenshots, the animation style is actually contextual. The bosses shown also possess this distortion, and it winds up giving the game a dark, cartoony feel, similar to the Nightmare before Christmas movie. Adding to that is the patina of cel-shading in the game which works with the cartoon like models. While initially jarring, it winds up appropriately matching the subject matter. It’s quite a departure from Dark Souls, and at a longer look, it seems quite intentional.

sinner sacrifice of redemption

The Subject Matter

That subject matter brings us to the next point. This game is heavily built on biblical references, with a series of 7 bosses you will face, all themed around 1 of the 7 deadly sins. For those far removed from Sunday school instruction, those sins are: gluttony, lust, greed, pride, envy, wrath, and sloth. As touched on in the last paragraph, that type of biblical subject matter lends itself well to that gothic fantasy art direction. Tackling the concept of these sins gives the game a quite clear focus unlike that of Dark Souls. Yes Dark Souls immerses itself in philosophical concepts, dabbling in Jungian archetypal themes, and in other ways making allusions to Nordic religions. But it never clearly broaches into dogma and its related concepts like penitence. This specificity is something we don’t see a whole lot in gaming in general, with designers usually content to create new pantheons of gods. Occasionally you get a game like Dante’s Inferno that touches upon those themes of salvation and penance.

sinner sacrifice for redemption

With the sins dictating the boss and no doubt the level design, the game is likely going to have its own distinct feel. It’s probably going to be a more clear and serious musing. We’re familiar with the subject matter, unlike in Souls where we must hunt for every clue and still make best guesses. When it comes to the deadly sins, we know what they are, we know what they mean, we know who decreed them and why. From that starting point the musing is less about “what” as it is in Dark Souls and more about “why”. Why are we making these choices? Why are riddled with guilt? In Dark Souls we rarely touch on dogma and that’s because we still don’t have a clear picture as to what the religion even looked like, much less practiced.

sinner sacrifice of redemption

The Gameplay

Ah, the beloved boss rush, where have you gone? A staple of Japanese game development, it’s a feature we see all too rarely it seems. And that’s puzzling because when done right, it’s incredibly fun and addicting and decidedly not Dark Souls. In fact, a rush mode is a feature commonly asked for from Souls fans, at least upon defeating the game. Some have compared Sinner to Shadow of the Colossus and that’s partially true, in that it seems the challenge is specifically, if not solely the bosses. But it probably has more in common with something like the Everfall in Dragon’s Dogma. The Everfall is a multi-leveled dungeon, divided into floors all themed around a certain dark emotion: anxiety, remorse, lament, etc. Sound familiar? Most levels in the Everfall are a quick jaunt through some lesser foes followed by a boss fight, and some are just straight up a boss fight, like the Ur-dragon. But once you can access the Everfall at endgame, you can take on these challenges over and over and over again to your masochistic heart’s content. In a format like this, the challenge is always about the larger than life boss, and trims away some of the fat (and meat) of tradtional exploration gameplay. It’s certainly not Dark Souls, and reaches further back into early hardcore gaming convention.

sinner sacrifice of redemption

Deleveling prior to taking on one of these bosses is absolutely distinct from Dark Souls and could be the most intriguing mechanic of the game. It represents an intersection between the game’s spiritual premise and it’s gameplay. Humbling yourself by weakening yourself prior to taking on a challenge. Sure you can hamper yourself in Dark Souls before a big fight, like using Power Within, but there’s always a positive trade off, usually in the form of more attack power. But outright weakening yourself, and increasing the challenge? Sounds interesting. It presents a choice to make carefully and is extremely in line with the self flagellation of religious dogma. Will you cut off your nose? Hand? Will you pluck out an eye to atone for your sins? Chilling and spiritually hefty. I like it.

sinner sacrifice of redemption

Not So Similar?

Yes, Sinner takes heavy inpsiration from Dark Souls, but even so, there’s reason to believe that the game may eventually stand on its own and even be a good time. It’s clear it’s not just a bootleg reskin of From Software’s masterpiece, re-packaged to the point of a quick buck. In that case, I’d proclaim plagiarism. But that’s not the case, and it’s something to monitor closely. Sure, the game could come out as rubbish in a dreg heap, but so could any AAA game. Need I jog anyone’s memory of some recent duds? But the point is, succeed or fail, Sinner is already more of its own entity than people may realize.

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Editor at Fextralife. I look for the substantial in gaming and I try to connect video games to the emotions and stories they elicit. I love all things culture and history and have an odd fondness for the planet Jupiter. I think my dogs are pretty awesome too.

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10 comments on “Why Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Is More Than a Dark Souls Clone”

  1. Rangrok says:

    Reminds me of when people used to call first-person shooters Doom clones. Can’t we just assume souls-like is a genre now? It seems pointless, if not counter-productive, to accuse all these games of ripping off Fromsoft.

  2. Avatar qeter says:

    I’ve seen people vehemently hate the souls-like label. I’ve seen people love games for falling under its umbrella. I’ve seen others calling those same games ripoffs. I think things should just be judged in their own merits.

  3. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Yeah I think we’ve had threads dedicated to discussing the influences of games, and they end up so blended together it’s hard to tell what feature was where first sometimes.

    Everything should be judged on its own merits, like you said, but that’s not easy for people who like to categorize things and draw imaginary lines.

  4. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    I think you need both an objective look and the comparisons to analyze.

    The more game reviews I do, the more apparent it becomes how important it is to be able to cite similarities.

    I can take a thousand words to describe Immortal Planet’s look, or I can call it a less colorful Transistor and get the same point across.

    That said, I don’t like the term ”clone” because that has a ”rip off” vibe. And most games are influenced or similar at most.

  5. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    Also, I really like the aesthetics in this game. Definitely be keeping an eye on it

  6. Rangrok says:

    I agree with this sentiment. If you read most experienced film critics, they tend to draw parallels to other films in their reviews. It’s not meant to accuse them of ripping each other off or being unoriginal, rather it’s to help characterize the film. Heck, how many descriptions of Dark Souls 1’s level design include the term "Metroidvania"? It’s not meant as an insult, it’s just "if you like Metroidvania level design, you will find it in Dark Souls."

    At this point, why can’t the same be applied to souls-like gameplay? It just seems counter-productive to argue "is Sinner a clone of Dark Souls or not?" when you can just say "Sinner is a souls-like game. Here’s some info about it that makes it worth keeping an eye on."

  7. Phantorang says:

    Who cares what it is, as long as it is a great game! And if it is as good as Dark Souls, I am very happy to say I am definitely going to buy it! :)

  8. Avatar Toshin says:

    I wonder what’s with the number of dislikes on that video… I’d say its because of the graphics more than anything.

    Tbh, the game looks pretty decent for an indie game and the mechanics are quite similar to a souls game.

    This game has caught my interest, thanks for sharing!

  9. Jet1337 says:

    It looks like it uses Borderlands-style cell shading.

  10. DxV04 says:

    Very good preview!

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