After Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption teased its Souls-meets-Shadow of the Colossus-meets the Divine Comedy makeup a few weeks back I was intrigued. Like a page torn straight from Miyazaki's scrap book, its towering bosses, pithy protagonist and dodge rolling combat echoed that of Lordran and beyond - however its sacrificial mechanics sounded cool and unique.
At Gamescom, I took the game's early alpha for a spin, and sat down with its publisher Another Indie to discuss what it's all about.
"The name of the game is boss-battling," Ajay from Another Indie tells me. "There are seven people in the Dark Star Games team in Shanghai, who've worked with bigger companies like Konami and Sega, Ubisoft and Blizzard. The Chinese industry has changed a lot in recent years, too.
"Two years ago, they lifted the ban from consoles—it was 15 years without—and at the same time Steam localised its store. In short: a growing indie scene that wasn't possible before has come to the fore. Dark Star are big fans of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls and they want to have a very narrow scope, where they make great boss battles."
Ajay tells me that despite being fans of Hidetaka Miyazaki's esteemed nightmarescapes, committing their time-consuming worlds is something the Dark Star team has in the face of family and work life. As such, Sinner hopes to be more focused in its approach without sacrificing depth. Instead, you sacrifice skills.
"The central mechanic forces you to sacrifice certain skills. As I say, each boss is equally difficult in its own way, but it's you who becomes weaker and weaker each time, depending on which skill you choose to sacrifice," Ajay tells me. "Each boss will require one sacrifice , but one of the game's core mechanics means if you battle a boss and discover a new ability later on that might help defeat a previous enemy, you can track back, and try again.
"This should give the game more depth and with a smaller team allow it to be more focused at the same time. You have two weapons, healing items, bosses that have different powers and abilities, and different arenas to fight them in."
My brief playthrough admittedly did feel a lot like a less accomplished Dark Souls, despite Ajay stressing Sinner will stand on its own two feet come release. As a fan of the Souls games, it's worth pointing out that this is hardly an issue for me and, while still a little rough around the edges, one boss battle with the twin-headed 'Countess' was haunting and terrifying and wonderful all at once.
Speaking to Another Indie's Ian Garner at PAX last weekend, our Steven learned more about this duplicitous baddie in moving picture form:
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is due at some point in 2018.