I for one, did not have action/platformer/exorcist/side-scroller on my 2023 gaming bingo card. If you perchance did, then Saga of Sins is the game to fill that particular niche.
Developed by Bonus Level Entertainment, Saga of Sins puts us in control of Cecil, a cleric just returned from the crusades to his hometown of Sinwell, a name that might well explain why all its inhabitants are deeply troubled souls. Upon returning we are greeted by a very sinister-looking monk named Brother Ulric. We are charged with purging Sinwell of the sin it does so well and collecting apples stolen by the devil from the Garden of Eden.
To do so we must enter the minds of our fellow villagers and traverse the demonic landscape, battling various demons and overcoming whatever obstacles we are confronted with. Now, as a lowly cleric this would seem somewhat difficult, luckily for us, we have the ability to transform into mythical beasts to help us fight. Early game you are restricted to the form of a werewolf. However, once you progress through the game, you will unlock more forms to battle with.
The overall aesthetic of the world is quite beautiful, taking its inspiration from stained-glass windows in churches and cathedrals, the segmented and vibrant world is impressive whether you’re milling about Sinwell or delving into a villager’s mind. The sound effects left a bit more to be desired however, whilst not inherently bad, they’re just a little basic and without specifically listening out for them for this review I likely wouldn’t have noticed them at all.
There are 31 villagers whose minds must be cleansed of sin. There is a formulaic feel to the levels within a certain sin (i.e. gluttony, wrath, lust) although each sin does feel distinct. The mechanics are crisp if a little basic and each new creature form you unlock does allow you to repeat dungeons to search for extra rewards in a Metroidvania sort of way. But whilst the game does a lot to prevent the gameplay from becoming stale, it doesn’t really succeed as after 5 levels I found myself bored of the same routine. Each sin has three levels, two regular and one boss. This does mean that you’ll be advancing at a fairly rapid pace as the levels themselves might only take a few minutes to complete and the bosses are not exactly blessed (get it?) with a large health bar.
All you do in-game is clear these levels, with basic mechanics and honestly, easy challenges, and that comes from someone who usually sucks at these things initially, but I had no issues clearing any of the levels I came across. So if you’re a hardcore platforming fan then maybe this isn’t for you.
Going hand in hand with the lack of challenge is the skill tree, this is incredibly basic and feels almost tacked on. But worse than that is that with very little effort and very early on in the game you can unlock the entire thing, giving you an honestly unfair advantage over the enemies you encounter. Now instead of a challenge, combat feels more like a pattern-recognition game with the solution being all too easy.
All of this leads to Saga of Sins being a very short game. I’d say if the repetitive gameplay loop doesn’t get you down then finishing Saga of Sins within a few hours is completely possible. Which honestly is a shame as the concept here has more potential than has been realised. An exorcism game in which you battle the Seven Deadly Sins screams Persona at me, and yet as an avid Persona fan, I never felt any of the deadliness, rather just apathy although I suppose Sloth would be more appropriate here.