Religion and videogames has always felt like an odd combination. Other mediums have had their religious epics but gaming just struggles to pull one together. Saga of Sins hasn’t quite got those lofty ambitions but this effort from Bonus Level Entertainment does use a Christian backdrop to deliver a decent morality tale.
The story on offer is one that’s not without twists. Our protagonist Cecil has returned from the crusades to find his home of Sinwell ravaged by plague. Uriel, his mentor assumes the disease is borne from sin so he must cleanse the populous to save the town. Whilst it’s not a spectacular narrative, it does at least diverge a little from standard religious fables. It takes a while to get there but the conclusion (of which there are several endings) do feel earned.
Saga of Sins have a very distinctive look. Characters almost appear like puppets with some obvious points of articulation and the colour palette appears to mimic stained glass windows very well. To hammer home the point there is some stylish vignetting on display which, after a time, loses its impact. There’s plenty of life to it and you can see the heavy medieval influence. At first I thought it primitive but there’s a substantial amount of detail on offer.
Backgrounds continue this with each quarter of Sinwell given the right amount of attention. Whilst these areas are there to simply give saints and sinners a place to stand, they look lived in and I sensed these places were busy, in spite of the plague. Voice acting is largely competent although I find our main hero to be the weakest of the bunch. His Scottish whimper just doesn’t match the rest of the cast’s confidence.
Everyone is voice acted but dialogue is also displayed in a period appropriate scrawl that looks a touch clumsy. Something about the text size looks a little second hand and there’s a lot of screen obscured to let the script play out. I do think using the village as a hub allows for some breathing space between levels. This can still be circumvented with fast travel but Sinwell never felt large enough to really slow the pace down.
Not every one of Sinwell’s inhabitants are sinners with innocent parties sprinkled in amongst the townsfolk. Cecil has the power to enter the minds of each one with sinners offering the game’s main levels. Each sinner has a specific sin associated with them and the level design does well to leverage that fact. Hearts feature prominently in lust whilst greed showcases some lavish palace designs. It’s a great way to keep proceedings varied and there’s opportunities taken to experiment with gameplay.
Gameplay is primarily about platforming and combat. The former is reliable and occasionally requires some tight manoeuvres. You begin capably with a single jump which soon upgrades to a double. Platforms stand out well from the backgrounds and it’s always clear what your objective usually is.
Combat is not tricky but progression through the game is gated by a skill-tree. Abilities are unlocked by collecting coins from defeated enemies. Money is plentiful but I did take a chance to grind towards the end. Unlocks usually allow your weapons to become more effective and boost your health pool. I didn’t feel invincible near the end but I found the main levels to be fairly comfortable.
Each sin has a boss which, when defeated, grants you a shard of stained glass. These allow you to restore your beloved chapel and, in turn, deliver you new creatures to use in battle. These creatures come in some elemental varieties but they all seem serviceable against the rank and file enemies. To Saga of Sins’ credit, players are encouraged to mix it up with each creature having additional abilities for solving puzzles. You can light up lanterns, break cracks with a deathly howl or scale walls as an eagle.
By the time you gain the chance to revisit levels, these extra goodies have been in plain sight. It’s rewarding to retrace those steps for chests and loot to further improve your skills. It also extends the life of a game that is fairly swift to run through. There’s several endings with a couple being locked behind additional content. These are easy enough to figure out and, by the time I could pursue that, I had plenty of tools to make the grind more palatable.
Boss fights display some ingenuity with some testing your ability to platform under time pressures. Others play with perspective or your ability to switch between weapons at will. Even if I find the base platforming to be fairly lenient, there’s been some great care taken to present a handful of clever ideas.
Saga of Sins is a really well-considered effort that uses the 7 deadly sins motif effectively. I don’t think the visual style will mesh with everyone but I did find it interesting within the medieval setting. Some of the voice acting is a little flat, particularly Cecil but the environments are detailed and the story pushes things along at a steady pace. I’ve been surprised by the execution and enjoyed this, despite the small complaints.
+ Solid combat with really clever level design.
+ Platforming is lenient with plenty of mobility.
+ The story offers a couple of intriguing twists.
- The text boxes used for dialogue can look a little chunky.
- Unlocking the extra endings requires a fair amount of backtracking.